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HuntfortheWildborn
01-15-2012, 06:34 AM
I've been doing a bit of research on querying agents. I'm not ready to start yet, but it never hurts to build up a bit of knowledge of these things well in advance. But today I've come accross something very contradictory.

Miss Snark (and others) says very clearly that agents expect not to have exclusivity in the querying stage. 'Query widely'.... its plastered all over her blog. And a multiude of other places I've read.

But then, when searching for agencies in Australia, I come across this...
"Make sure that we are the only agents who are currently considering your work. Our time is precious, and we do not wish to spend hours reading your submission, only to find that some other agent has just accepted it. To repeat: if some other agent is currently considering your work, you must NOT send it to us."

There are a few Aussie agencies that say this (bolded in red, so it can't really be ignored). I haven't had a proper look at international agencies so I don't know if this is specific to my country or not.

Sooooo... does this mean??????


ALSO, Miss Snark and others say not much annoys them more than people phoning to check whether it is okay to submit or not....

from the same site...
Second, phone us on _______ to check that we wish to see your work. Some kinds of writing are not of interest to us: children’s books by previously unpublished authors, screenplays, plays, poetry or individual short stories, for example.

it then goes on to say that if they wish to see your work, you can send in a submission.

:e2drown::e2drown:

Drachen Jager
01-15-2012, 08:53 AM
It is generally considered bad etiquette (among authors anyhow) for agencies to require exclusivity on a query. Most of us grant non-retroactive exclusivity on reads if it's requested AND the timeline is hard (ie. if you have multiple submissions out you say those will stay out, you won't withdraw them, but you'll wait before submitting anything further for x days or weeks (usually 2 weeks or less)).

My advice is that unless there is a very good reason why you'd want that agency over all the others, leave them for last. Once your other options are exhausted, try them, being last in line is their just returns for adopting an unfair policy.

HuntfortheWildborn
01-15-2012, 09:09 AM
That is what I was kind of thinking. Plus, imagine how long the whole process would take if you only ever queried one at a time! Unless you were very lucky and got it in, say, the first three agents, it would take YEARS to get as far as you should get in 6 months....

Anne Lyle
01-15-2012, 09:17 AM
But then, when searching for agencies in Australia, I come across this...
"Make sure that we are the only agents who are currently considering your work. Our time is precious, and we do not wish to spend hours reading your submission, only to find that some other agent has just accepted it. To repeat: if some other agent is currently considering your work, you must NOT send it to us."

When an agent says "considering your work", that's industry code for "reading your full manuscript" :)

Just about everyone accepts simultaneous querying - it would be unreasonable not to - but many prefer to have an exclusive on a full. Even then, it's wise to agree a turnaround time so that they don't keep you hanging for months and months.




ALSO, Miss Snark and others say not much annoys them more than people phoning to check whether it is okay to submit or not....

from the same site...
Second, phone us on _______ to check that we wish to see your work. Some kinds of writing are not of interest to us: children’s books by previously unpublished authors, screenplays, plays, poetry or individual short stories, for example.


If they specifically say to phone them, go ahead and phone them. (Why would they lie on their own website???) If they don't mention phoning, DON'T DO IT.

Australian publishing practices seem to be very different from US/UK ones - maybe geography (small inhabited areas a long way apart) and culture come into play?

HuntfortheWildborn
01-15-2012, 09:49 AM
I don't know if the practices themselves are different, but there is certainly a lot less choice. Especially when working with YA, or Fantasy, or indeed a miture of the two like I am. We don't have a huge amount of agents (or publishing houses for that matter, beside the big names) here, and a LOT of the ones we do have specifically say no fantasy, or no YA, or they don't say they don't do them but they do say they only work in this, this and this.

Tis very annoying.

Drachen Jager
01-15-2012, 10:06 AM
Get an American agent, that's where most of the publishing is done in the English speaking world anyhow. Unless you're writing Aussie-centric material that wouldn't be of interest to Americans of course.

I have an American agent and I know of at least one Aussie on these boards who has an American agent.

Sure, try for an agent down there if you want, but you don't need to limit your options.

Pyekett
01-15-2012, 04:40 PM
Think of it this way: the query letter is like a resume, but reading a partial or full manuscript is more like an interview. "Considering your work" means, essentially, "interviewing you."

It doesn't take hours to scan a resume or query letter. It takes minutes. More likely seconds, if you time it out. But to seriously consider the text itself is a time investment, and they don't want to do that if you are interviewing at several places.

richcapo
01-15-2012, 06:21 PM
I've had very strong results cold calling agents, believe it or not. My first book was accepted in full for review at St. Martin's after I sent a humorous email to an editor there who shared numerous interests with me. I also called an editor at Random house who is an alumnus of the university I attended, and he agreed to read it in full, as well.

After that I cold called many agents and told them about St. Martin's and Random House -- a relatively small chunk asked for my fulls -- including one who published a book by a fellow Freemason. While all passed on the book; most invited me to send my forthcoming work directly to them in full -- including the editors at St. Martin's and Random House -- which I have done. Numerous agents who read partials also invited me to submit my next book directly to them in full. I imagine the fact that I will soon be hosting the first of likely many readings at the Masonic lodges of the DC area, to which all contacted agents have been invited, played a significant role in convincing them to solicit my full.

I now have thirty fulls of my second book under consideration. Hopefully something will come of that.

So under some circumstances it is possible to succeed (to whatever extent) with cold calling.

Anne Lyle
01-15-2012, 07:10 PM
So being a Mason had nothing to do with it, Rich? ;)

richcapo
01-15-2012, 07:11 PM
So being a Mason had nothing to do with it, Rich? ;)Please re-read what I wrote.

Anne Lyle
01-15-2012, 08:15 PM
I read what you wrote. I was attempting humour - clearly I failed.

Pyekett
01-15-2012, 08:29 PM
I think that generally cold-calling without a specific outside connection is a bad idea, and I would advise newcomers to think carefully about this first. Read what the agents say themselves, too -- there are plenty of blogs out there and people who post here in the field. Mind you, I don't think of connections related to the work and craft itself as being "external." If you meet someone at conference or workshop and they offer to read your work, or if you send a query referencing that sort of meeting, it doesn't seem as if it would engender the same reaction.

Cold-calling with a connection is--I am given to understand--more likely to get some courtesy and friendliness (as opposed to a verbal kick in the head), but I don't know that it translates to a more straightforward path to publication. I would be hesitant to do so myself because I don't want to be put in the literary agent equivalent of the "friend" category rather than "lover." Friends are people you are nice to because maybe you like them, maybe your mother introduced you, or maybe you see them at the local birdwatching society meetings. Lovers are the ones who keep you up at night, and they are the ones you actively pursue.

I can't speak to anyone else's experiences, and I wouldn't want to. My own are confusing enough. But I do know that I want to trust in my own work. I want to do it well enough that I never feel or imply that it cannot stand on its own, and I fear (rightly or wrongly) the "Oh, Christ" reaction I imagine crosses an agent or editor's mind all too often when there is a cold call. I feel (again, rightly or wrongly) that deviations from expected form signal my own insecurity, and at that point, I figure my job is to address the insecurity by writing better.

richcapo
01-15-2012, 08:33 PM
I think that generally cold-calling without a specific outside connection is a bad idea.I agree, which is why I wrote "under some circumstances" and detailed those circumstances that enabled me to garner full requests via cold calling.

Pyekett
01-15-2012, 08:34 PM
Yep. Was not disagreeing with you, richcapo, just continuing the discussion.

Miguelito
01-15-2012, 08:36 PM
I read what you wrote. I was attempting humour - clearly I failed.

You didn't fail. I certainly got it. And laughed.

Drachen Jager
01-15-2012, 10:07 PM
I read what you wrote. I was attempting humour - clearly I failed.

I think it was funny to just about everyone but your target.

Anne Lyle
01-15-2012, 11:03 PM
I was trying to be polite in my reply, in accordance with forum rules.

Pyekett
01-16-2012, 01:01 AM
I got it as well, Anne Lyle.

logan9a
01-16-2012, 01:11 PM
I think it was funny to just about everyone but your target.

I'm a FNG and I got it...

Bron
01-16-2012, 02:40 PM
Actually I've visited the website of the agent in question, and I got the impression that they did require exclusivity even on queries. We do seem to do things a little differently Down Under. I think it's due to the smaller population and small number of agents, which has resulted in less competition and an acceptance of practices that elsewhere would be frowned upon. I can't help but think this will change as the publishing industry becomes more global and writers realise that things like exclusives are not good nor even standard. And I should note that not all agents are like this, it's just that there are so few of them that the ones that do things like this tend to stick out.

In the meantime, do what I'm doing and put agents like that at the bottom of your list. And as someone else said, query international agents as well The fact that you're writing fantasy will help you out there, as your MS won't be Aussie-centric and only appeal to Australian audiences.

Pyekett
01-16-2012, 03:23 PM
Ah. I googled the text and found A-L-M (not linking because I don't want to draw them back to this site).

It looks like they don't even do query letters, per se. That is, they do not want a brief note in lieu of the document itself, but rather you start with a phone call and then "If we ask to see a sample of your writing, post a copy of a one-to-two-page synopsis of your book, together with copies of some pages from two sample chapters (up to a maximum of fifty pages total), to our office."

That is really quite strange.

Anne Lyle
01-16-2012, 04:52 PM
"If we ask to see a sample of your writing, post a copy of a one-to-two-page synopsis of your book, together with copies of some pages from two sample chapters (up to a maximum of fifty pages total), to our office."

That is really quite strange.

A lot of UK agents ask for a partial (sample chapters and synopsis) up front, rather than a query letter. The only strange part to me is that they are using the phone for the initial query stage - most agents nowadays are snowed under with queries!

Maybe they've found that fewer people phone than would email, as it's more intimidating - but it's also more intrusive and time-consuming, IMHO. Still, it's their business...

Pyekett
01-16-2012, 04:59 PM
A lot of UK agents ask for a partial (sample chapters and synopsis) up front, rather than a query letter.

I remember this now. I knew it at one time, but apparently no longer. I am hopelessly North-Americacentric. Rats.


Still, it's their business...

Yep.

HuntfortheWildborn
01-18-2012, 04:05 AM
Wow, thanks everyone... this thread sure has given me a lot to think about now. I think I will query internationally as well. I have a tiny bit of a pet peeve in this genre that *almost* everything is 'americanised' even if written by a non-american author, because they think that americans don't want to read about anything else but themselves. This really cheeses me off because WE have to read about them, so why shouldn't they get to read about US??? But you are all right, fantasy does open it up a lot. I'm going to start researching specific agents and make a list, and ones that have silly rules like this one are going at the bottom.

XD

Anne Lyle
01-18-2012, 11:51 AM
There is a lot of Americanisation, sure, particularly in fantasy set in the here-and-now, but even US agents are open to other stuff if it's good enough. One of my stablemates at Angry Robot writes books set in modern-day England but has a US agent - he ended up selling the series to a UK publisher who puts out books in both the UK and US...

HuntfortheWildborn
01-18-2012, 06:07 PM
That is the kind of information that makes me feel good about this industry :) thanks for sharing XD

J.Reid
01-22-2012, 07:06 AM
Please do not cold call agents or editors. This is absolutely the worst way to make contact with anyone. Everyone who gets these calls either says "get the hell off my phone" OR "sure send it" which is the nicer person's way of saying "get off my phone." There is NO circumstance under which it is acceptable to cold call an agent. None.

Anne Lyle
01-22-2012, 12:17 PM
There is NO circumstance under which it is acceptable to cold call an agent. None.

There's one: when it explicitly says on their website to call them. Which is the case with some Australian agents, as the OP makes clear.

In the UK and US, I agree. Do not call.