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stargazer11
06-25-2012, 05:11 PM
Hello everyone: Before I get to my questions about searching for an agent, let me briefly tell you about myself. I am a first time author who recently completed my first book. It took me two years to write and edit, and I am very proud of my work. Two Months ago, I started the query process after months of rewriting it over numerous times. Like most writers, and I hope 'most writers', I do not have a referral; nor do I know how to get a referral. So I decided to take the path most agents will tell you to do: Research other authors whose work is similiar to yours, then query that agent. Sounds good in theory, right? Not so much for my case...

After spending weeks at the library, tossing books over my shoulder checking through the acknowledments, I found about ten books similiar to mine. I queried just about all of them so far, and with much dismay... no luck. They either send my back a form rejection letter, or they don't respond at all. By the way, most of them do not respond... Since I don't have a referral, I thought that by doing it this way, like all agents suggest, this will work in my favor just as good as a referral, but its not. I am starting to realize researching books similiar to yours is a stasis quo answer all agents give to writers when they start the query proccess. But it seems to fail... Why would an agent want 'another story' that is similiar to a past client they represented before?

That's like saying to an agent: Hey... my story is just like Harry Potter. And since you took J.K. Rowlings book, it only makes sense for you to take mine. But appartently, agents don't seem to want similair works they represented before. They consider it 'over and done with'... So whats the point of doing research of similar books to yours if it doesn't work??? By the way, my story is not like Harry Potter. I used it as an example.

I do not doubt my query letter. Not only did it go through the ringer with me, my editor also gave it her approval. And if that wasn't enough, I met an editor from Randon House at a writers conference, and he was nice enough to give me his opinion and told me how to make it better. When it was all said and done, my query was considered 'a good query' from two editors and myself. So I see nothing wrong with my query...

Another questions about agent hunting.

1) Since I have no referral, and I exhausted my researched books, is there another way to find an agent quick? I don't want to be like others I read about where it took him/her over a year to find an agent. I would like to have an agent before the world ends on December 21, 2012.

2) Does anyone know of any agents looking for fictional novels about autism that combines elements of self-help nonfiction?

3) If the query process fails, what would be another route to take other than self-publishing? Is submitting directily to the publisher a step than can be used?

4) I query in small batches of 5 before sending out another 5, 4-6 weeks later. Is that a good stragedy, or should I send out more than 5 at any given time?

5) If an agent rejects me, is it okay to submit the same query to another agent, at the same agency?

6) If an agent does not respond, does that mean they rejected it?

7) Is there a site where I can post my query online, where agents can go to and see whats out there, in addition to sending it out by mail?

8) How can a first time author stand out in a stack of query letters if he/she does not have a referral or past publishing history? Agents seem more interested in referrals and your credentials first, then the story cames last...

These are just some of my questions. Any responses are greatly appreciated... Thanks...

Elizabeth Holloway
06-25-2012, 06:32 PM
Hi Stargazer and :welcome: to AW! This is a wonderful community of writers and publishing professionals, so poke around the different forums and get acquainted. You'll be surprised how much you will learn!


Hello everyone: Before I get to my questions about searching for an agent, let me briefly tell you about myself. I am a first time author who recently completed my first book. It took me two years to write and edit, and I am very proud of my work. Two Months ago, I started the query process after months of rewriting it over numerous times. Like most writers, and I hope 'most writers', I do not have a referral; nor do I know how to get a referral. So I decided to take the path most agents will tell you to do: Research other authors whose work is similiar <-- Similar is the operative word, here. Not exactly like your work, similar to your work (same genre, similar characters, common themes). to yours, then query that agent. Sounds good in theory, right? Not so much for my case...

After spending weeks at the library, tossing books over my shoulder checking through the acknowledments, I found about ten books similiar to mine. I queried just about all of them so far, and with much dismay... no luck. They either send my back a form rejection letter, or they don't respond at all. By the way, most of them do not respond... Since I don't have a referral, I thought that by doing it this way, like all agents suggest, this will work in my favor just as good as a referral, but its not. I am starting to realize researching books similiar to yours is a stasis quo answer all agents give to writers when they start the query proccess. But it seems to fail... Why would an agent want 'another story' that is similiar to a past client they represented before? Okay. Agents want books that they can sell, which means books that appeal to a market they are familiar with. When they say to research similar novels, they mean that if you write epic-fantasy, you should research epic-fantasy writers, if you write mysteries, look into mystery writers. This does NOT mean you should shop your crime novel about a shampoo salesman who finds a body in a vat of conditioner to an agent who already has an author who wrote a story about a shampoo salesman who finds a body in a vat of conditioner.

That's like saying to an agent: Hey... my story is just like Harry Potter. And since you took J.K. Rowlings book, it only makes sense for you to take mine. But appartently, agents don't seem to want similair works they represented before. They consider it 'over and done with'... So whats the point of doing research of similar books to yours if it doesn't work??? By the way, my story is not like Harry Potter. I used it as an example.

I do not doubt my query letter. Not only did it go through the ringer with me, my editor also gave it her approval. And if that wasn't enough, I met an editor from Randon House at a writers conference, and he was nice enough to give me his opinion and told me how to make it better. When it was all said and done, my query was considered 'a good query' from two editors and myself. So I see nothing wrong with my query...
Have you been to our Query Letter Hell forum? They work wonders. Really. I've seen queries that the writer thought were SUPER-amazing-GREAT, but were getting ZERO agent bites, go through Query Letter Hell and go on to get offers of representation (myself included). You need 50 posts before you can post your own query letter there, but even reading the struggles of others and critiquing a few yourself is quite a learning experience.

Another questions about agent hunting.

1) Since I have no referral You don't need one., and I exhausted my researched books, is there another way to find an agent quick? No. There is NOTHING quick in publishing. I don't want to be like others I read about where it took him/her over a year Make that 3 years and 2 books, for me. to find an agent I'm sorry, but I'm a little offended by this. What makes you so much better than the rest of us?. I would like to have an agent before the world ends on December 21, 2012.

2) Does anyone know of any agents looking for fictional novels <-- If you are using this phrase in your query letter, it might be part of your problem. It's a BIG turn off for agents. A novel, by definition, is fictional. The phrase 'fictional novel' is redundant and incredibly annoying to agents. about autism that combines elements of self-help nonfiction? Sorry, I don't. You will have to research agents and query widely.

3) If the query process fails, what would be another route to take other than self-publishing? Is submitting directily to the publisher a step than can be used? Yes, but make sure you have queried EVERY agent who will be a good fit for your book before you approach publishers. You will cut your agent off at the knees if you've already queried the same publishers they want to submit to. There are HUNDREDS of agents out there. Do your research. Check out QueryTracker.com and AgentQuery.com. And ALWAYS double check their credibility at Preditors and Editors and our Bewares forum, here on AW.

4) I query in small batches of 5 before sending out another 5, 4-6 weeks later. Is that a good stragedy, or should I send out more than 5 at any given time? That's how I do it. :)

5) If an agent rejects me, is it okay to submit the same query to another agent, at the same agency? It depends on the agency. Look it up on their website. They will usually specify one way or the other. But, you should NEVER query two agents at the same agency, at the same time.

6) If an agent does not respond, does that mean they rejected it? Usually. I give the agency the time their website states they will respond by and if I hear nothing, I assume it's a no.

7) Is there a site where I can post my query online, where agents can go to and see whats out there, in addition to sending it out by mail? Officially? I don't think so. You just have to do it the old fashioned way: Write an AWESOME book with an AMAZING query letter and query widely.

8) How can a first time author stand out in a stack of query letters if he/she does not have a referral or past publishing history? Write an AWESOME book and an AMAZING query letter. That's the secret. Period. There is no secret passage into publishing. No magic seed that will grow a stalk through the doors of HarperCollins. Be patient. Work on your craft. And write a story people want to read. Agents seem more interested in referrals and your credentials first, then the story cames last...Not true at all. My novel was plucked out of the slushpile with ZERO referrals and NO credentials. And I KNOW there are many other writers on this forum with similar stories. It is ALL about the book. Referrals and credentials can help, but in the end it's the story that matters.

These are just some of my questions. Any responses are greatly appreciated... Thanks...

I hope you stick around and check out all that AW has to offer. This is a fantastic community. Even though I mostly lurk, I've learned so much here over the years, I don't want to think of where I'd be without this place!
Welcome aboard!

heyjude
06-25-2012, 07:28 PM
:welcome: stargazer. Beth gave you super good advice. I just wanted to add:

I'd be leery of inserting self-help material into fiction. Most people read fiction to escape. Any kind of "and here's how you, the reader, should be handling things" would definitely yank me out of that.

Also, what's the rush? Publishing is slow. Agonizingly slow. Take your time and enjoy the ride.

Theo81
06-25-2012, 08:58 PM
Hello everyone: Before I get to my questions about searching for an agent, let me briefly tell you about myself. I am a first time author who recently completed my first book. It took me two years to write and edit, and I am very proud of my work. Two Months ago, I started the query process after months of rewriting it over numerous times. Like most writers, and I hope 'most writers', I do not have a referral; nor do I know how to get a referral. So I decided to take the path most agents will tell you to do: Research other authors whose work is similiar to yours, then query that agent. Sounds good in theory, right? Not so much for my case...

Have you got a genre? Go to AgentQuery or QueryTracker, look up agents who rep that genre. Research them.

After spending weeks at the library, tossing books over my shoulder checking through the acknowledments, I found about ten books similiar to mine. I queried just about all of them so far, and with much dismay... no luck. They either send my back a form rejection letter, or they don't respond at all. By the way, most of them do not respond... Since I don't have a referral, I thought that by doing it this way, like all agents suggest, this will work in my favor just as good as a referral, but its not. I am starting to realize researching books similiar to yours is a stasis quo answer all agents give to writers when they start the query proccess. But it seems to fail... Why would an agent want 'another story' that is similiar to a past client they represented before?

That's like saying to an agent: Hey... my story is just like Harry Potter. And since you took J.K. Rowlings book, it only makes sense for you to take mine. But appartently, agents don't seem to want similair works they represented before. They consider it 'over and done with'... So whats the point of doing research of similar books to yours if it doesn't work??? By the way, my story is not like Harry Potter. I used it as an example.

I do not doubt my query letter. Not only did it go through the ringer with me, my editor also gave it her approval. And if that wasn't enough, I met an editor from Randon House at a writers conference, and he was nice enough to give me his opinion and told me how to make it better. When it was all said and done, my query was considered 'a good query' from two editors and myself. So I see nothing wrong with my query...

Give your query to the squirrels in QLH. Editors do not see queries. AGENTS see queries. Stephen King may be a great writer, but he's not a go to guy for agent hunting advice. You may be right, but I'm going to assume you're not. I'm mean.

Another questions about agent hunting.

1) Since I have no referral, and I exhausted my researched books, is there another way to find an agent quick? I don't want to be like others I read about where it took him/her over a year to find an agent. I would like to have an agent before the world ends on December 21, 2012.

No. Publishing is glacial. Even if you have a referral, the agent will not know this until they read your query. Get used to it.

2) Does anyone know of any agents looking for fictional novels about autism that combines elements of self-help nonfiction?

Did you call it a fiction novel, or a fictional novel in your Q? I'd reject you just for that. All novels are fiction. And if I want to read a self-help book, I'll ... well, *I'll* hit my head against something until the feeling goes away, but hopefully you get my point. Then again, maybe you've got an "inspirational" novel. I hate them, but I hate everything.

3) If the query process fails, what would be another route to take other than self-publishing? Is submitting directily to the publisher a step than can be used?

Yes. There are plenty of publishers out there. Make sure you research them thoroughly in our bewares section before you send your work out. There are plenty of clueless amateurs out there.


4) I query in small batches of 5 before sending out another 5, 4-6 weeks later. Is that a good stragedy, or should I send out more than 5 at any given time?

Makes little difference. The only advantage with doing it in small batches is that it allows you to change the query without burning through your agent list.


5) If an agent rejects me, is it okay to submit the same query to another agent, at the same agency?

Yes, unless otherwise stated.

6) If an agent does not respond, does that mean they rejected it?

Usually, yes. It's okay to send a "nudge" email after three months, but unfortunately we just have to suck it up. It narks me something chronic (unless they clearly have a "no response means no" policy) but thems the kicks.

7) Is there a site where I can post my query online, where agents can go to and see whats out there, in addition to sending it out by mail?

Theoretically, yes. They are known as YADS (Yet another display site). No reputable agent goes to a website to find new authors. They have massive piles of slush in their office already. Whatever any of these places claim, they are not a shortcut, they are a waste of time you could be spending writing your next novel.

8) How can a first time author stand out in a stack of query letters if he/she does not have a referral or past publishing history? Agents seem more interested in referrals and your credentials first, then the story cames last...

Wrong. A great story well written comes first, always. It doesn't matter about referrals if you can barely manage to spell your own name correctly.

These are just some of my questions. Any responses are greatly appreciated... Thanks...

Go and visit QLH, here (password is Vista). If your query doesn't look like the ones in there, hold off querying any more agents until you've got your post count to 50 (hopefully by critting the queries in there, not bygaming the system). Maybe hold off anyway. 10 agents is not that many, but I've seen a lot of people who think they have a steller Q, only to find out they don't.

stargazer11
06-25-2012, 11:20 PM
Thanks for all the advice my fellow writers. And just so you all know, I did not state 'fictional novel' in my query. I already know it's redundant and sounds silly... I simply considered it, a 'novel' in the query. Since my editor thinks my story branches into other genres, including nonfiction, we both agreed to query it as a novel. The agent can decide what category it fits...


It amazes me just how patient someone has to be at this stage of the game. Especially since I have no patience... I find myself pacing in circles, checking my email 10 times a day, hoping to hear good news from an agent requesting to read my material. I try to concentrate on writing short stories in the meantime, but it is hard to write if my mind is focused on trying to find an agent; and constantly worrying in the process.


I will look in the query letter hell form... I already been to query shark and Miss Snarks query letter blog sight for information, though I never posted my query on the board. Those sights also dissect young, hopeful writers query letters and gives reasons why they will accept it or reject it. I will look into it soon...


Thanks guys...

Miss Plum
06-26-2012, 04:57 AM
stargazer,

The impatience thing has a cure: start your next project. Get obsessed, get compulsive, get dreamy. The thing you're querying will recede.

Old Hack
06-26-2012, 10:03 AM
Since my editor thinks my story branches into other genres, including nonfiction, we both agreed to query it as a novel. The agent can decide what category it fits...

You really don't need an editor at this stage. I hope you're not paying this one: if you're pursuing trade publication, you'll get one for free once you have that contract in hand.

stargazer11
06-26-2012, 05:23 PM
Thanks Miss Plum... I will try, but for me... easier said than done. But I know you are right.

By the way, who do I access query letter hell forum? I do not see a listing for it here? Also, why do I have to make 50 post before I can have my query reviewed?

Thanks fellow writers...

angeluscado
06-26-2012, 05:43 PM
why do I have to make 50 post before I can have my query reviewed?

It's to encourage people to become an active, contributing member of the community before they ask for critiques. The AW Writing Lab (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=160) is where you need to go for your Share Your Work goodness - it's the second to last section of the forums. You can post critiques of other people's work right now, but you can't post your own yet.

quicklime
06-26-2012, 08:09 PM
2 disclaimers:
1. anything I have to say has been covered....however, sometimes having several sources helps, as things sink in differently. When I was in grad school, if I had issues with a particular section of material I would find several books whioch covered it and read them all instead of just reading the assigned textbook four times, for example. So, maybe an additional voice will say things in a manner which clicks differently for you. BUT, it has been covered already.

2. I'm blunt. Not mean, but sometimes people disagree with that distinction. I give the advice/critiques I would want personally, which is direct and without a bunch of hand-waving or window-dressing.



Hello everyone: Before I get to my questions about searching for an agent, let me briefly tell you about myself. I am a first time author who recently completed my first book. It took me two years to write and edit, and I am very proud of my work. Two Months ago, I started the query process after months of rewriting it over numerous times. Like most writers, and I hope 'most writers', I do not have a referral; nor do I know how to get a referral. So I decided to take the path most agents will tell you to do: Research other authors whose work is similiar to yours, then query that agent. Sounds good in theory, right? Not so much for my case... well, we don't know this, at all.....First, when they say research similar agents, what does that mean to you? To me, it means "books of a similar tone and pacing" in most cases. So as an example, "White Crosses" and "Dead Silver" are both about crime and betrayal in Montana. Good idea to query the same agent then, right? Well, maybe not. White Crosses is a literary book that moves at a pace that would make a glacier look reckless, where Silver is gritty noir-ish stuff....I'd send that to the same pool as Piccirilli's more recent stuff, which would both go to folks who agented folks like Carver, if he was still writing his dark stuff...and Crosses would go someplace else completely. So, are you sending your children's book on ferrets to a guy who reps an author who once wrote a collection of ferret erotica? Or to the agent who never repped a ferret book, but does have several big names in children's animal fiction in his, ahem, stable?

Second, the purpose of this entire notion is to get you seeking agents who handle stuff similar to your own, so you aren't sending your 18th-century period romance to the guy who agents Dan Brown just because you wanted to sell like Da Vinci Code. It is meant to target your search...it is no guarantee of success, and if there is anything wrong with the book, the query, the "degree of fit", the agent's mood that one day, even, you can still be rejected. Seeking the right agents means you're not wasting your time pitching to the wrong ones; it doesn't mean you're guaranteed entry, and the odds are still steep.

After spending weeks at the library, tossing books over my shoulder checking through the acknowledments, I found about ten books similiar to mine. I queried just about all of them so far, and with much dismay... no luck. They either send my back a form rejection letter, or they don't respond at all. By the way, most of them do not respond...
1. 10 queries is a very small pool; most of the folks here who have gotten agents had more than 10 rejections, I would guess. That doesn't mean "do nothing, proceed as you had been" but it means it is a bit early to draw concrete conclusions

2. as mentioned above, "similar" in what? If you have a submarine thriller so you pulled every novel on submarines you could find, for example, you might want to re-work your list of agents.

Since I don't have a referral, I thought that by doing it this way, like all agents suggest, this will work in my favor just as good as a referral, but its not.
whoa...the italics suggest a sort of snitty entitlement--did you mean them to? Probably not, but now's as good a time as any then to bring this up: Impressions count. Immensely. So, if you did something at all like this in the query, you may have unwittingly turned an agent off.

All that said, no, a targeted search is VERY MUCH like a referral; both can tilt the odds, slightly. That is all, neither is a "golden ticket" and you seem to believe they are. A targeted search gets your query to the agents most likely to represent your book successfully...that is all. A recommendation says someone else is willing to vouch for you...that is all. Neither are going to rescue a shit query, only put a small bit of breeze at the back of a borderline one. So, you don't need a recommendation, it is only a (slight) helper. What you need is a query and story an agent wants.

I am starting to realize researching books similiar to yours is a stasis quo answer all agents give to writers when they start the query proccess. it isn't, and you are starting to sound more bitter still--again, if you're looking to learn, this is a great time to start considering what subtext you leave, intentional or otherwise. And suggesting a person figure out who represents their genre and send to them, instead of randomly, is neither groundbreaking nor some sort of secret disinformation campaign...it is little more than common sense, on par with suggesting when you go out for milk, you narrow your search to grocers and possibly gas stations, rather than including tire stores, furniture centers, etc... But it seems to fail... Why would an agent want 'another story' that is similiar to a past client they represented before? because it is their genre and the place they are best connected to....agents develop and cultivate a "brand" as well as a list of contacts most relevant to what they do. It'd be a very bad sign if your agent repped scattershot or tried repping some new area with each project, because it would suggest they were not developing the relationships with editors you'd hope. They don't want derivative crap, but if "similar" means more romance for a romance agent, well, yes, they would want "similar".

That's like saying to an agent: Hey... my story is just like Harry Potter. And since you took J.K. Rowlings book, it only makes sense for you to take mine. there's your problem. It only makes sense to take a good book, not the next one with a sorting hat. You seem to be approaching this with some flaws in reasoning that are tying you in knots. But appartently, agents don't seem to want similair works they represented before. They consider it 'over and done with'... you're confusing an agent's area and trends....boy-wizards got beat to death as everyone tried riding Harry's coattails. So did vampires with Twilight. That doesn't mean horror agents no longer want horror, or even vampire books...it means the vampire theme is a saturated market, and you now need to kick serious ass. If an agent told you HP was "over and done with" they mean you can't write Shmarry Rotter, Boy Wizard, not that they are now only repping romance and bionic ninja-monkey booksSo whats the point of doing research of similar books to yours if it doesn't work??? it does. Your failure is suspect from the other things you have said, but in either case, a single failure doesn't disprove the argument.......THOUSANDS of queries, if not more, that go to the right folks still get rejected EVERY DAY. By the way, my story is not like Harry Potter. I used it as an example.

I do not doubt my query letter. perhaps you should. or your first five pages. or your selection of agents. Because if all went swimmingly, you would be far less likely to be here venting. Now, you need to decide if you want to rant or to do the hard things, like reconsidering things you wanted to believe were done and perfected. Like that query. Not only did it go through the ringer with me, my editor also gave it her approval. who is your editor? If it is grandma, I"m unimpressed. If it is your english teacher, I'm unimpressed. As Theo mentioned, editors do not write query letters, even editors at major houses. And a spell-check guy...well, even less so. And if that wasn't enough, I met an editor from Randon House at a writers conference, and he was nice enough to give me his opinion and told me how to make it better. When it was all said and done, my query was considered 'a good query' from two editors and myself. So I see nothing wrong with my query... I'm not all that interested in if YOU see, and these people are somewhat nebulous....what do agents say? They seem to say "no". Now, they are saying no because of the query, the writing, or some common sending error, so I would think it prudent to consider all 3, no?

Another questions about agent hunting.

1) Since I have no referral, and I exhausted my researched books, is there another way to find an agent quick? I don't want to be like others I read about where it took him/her over a year to find an agent. I would like to have an agent before the world ends on December 21, 2012. there are many ways to find an agent quickly. One is write a GREAT query and book. An easier, and faster one, is to find a really bad agent nobody with a great query and book wants. But there aren't many ways to game or shortcut the system--you can do these things fast or you can do them well, but you choose one or the other.

2) Does anyone know of any agents looking for fictional novels about autism that combines elements of self-help nonfiction? Agents generally rep genre and "tone" within genre, not keywords.....for example, you'd be very unlikely to want the same agent for Rain Man as for a psychological thriller where an autistic boy holds the key.

3) If the query process fails, what would be another route to take other than self-publishing? Is submitting directily to the publisher a step than can be used? it can, but if the pace of agent hunting bothers you....this is gonna give you fits

4) I query in small batches of 5 before sending out another 5, 4-6 weeks later. Is that a good stragedy, or should I send out more than 5 at any given time? 5-10....the more you send the faster you burn through agents if anything is substandard in the initial rounds.

5) If an agent rejects me, is it okay to submit the same query to another agent, at the same agency? usually--check guidelines

6) If an agent does not respond, does that mean they rejected it? eventually, yes.

7) Is there a site where I can post my query online, where agents can go to and see whats out there, in addition to sending it out by mail? as mentioned, yes, but agents already hire folks to read the queries coming to THEM, so they don't do a lot of random searching.

8) How can a first time author stand out in a stack of query letters if he/she does not have a referral or past publishing history? kill it. Absolutely kill it. Agents seem more interested in referrals and your credentials first, then the story cames last...absolutely, positively, 1000% disagree with this. Yes, I disagree so thoroughly even the laws of basic math no longer apply. Agents want something they can sell. Referrals suggest someone else thinks you have potential, past history proves you've sold and built a name.....neither trump story.

These are just some of my questions. Any responses are greatly appreciated... Thanks...

stargazer,

I would check out QLH. I'd also put your first chapter or 2 in SYW.

I think you are making a very large mistake of "if they don't want mine, I must have been told a bunch of lies". Most of what you heard is almost ridiculously common-sense, and is in fact true. If you're still failing, you need to look at what's going on at your end of things. I strongly suspect either you've found the wrong agents, or you have something to fix in the query and/or sample pages.

Quick

quicklime
06-26-2012, 08:11 PM
Also, why do I have to make 50 post before I can have my query reviewed?

Thanks fellow writers...



as mentioned, to make sure you're actually giving something back, instead of just popping by long enough to strip-mine someone else's help and run.

toomanycarbs
07-03-2012, 08:04 PM
:

I'd be leery of inserting self-help material into fiction. Most people read fiction to escape. Any kind of "and here's how you, the reader, should be handling things" would definitely yank me out of that.



^ this. The worst thing is to feel that an author is being condescending to his/her readers.

stargazer11
07-08-2012, 02:47 AM
Got it... Thanks everyone

James D. Macdonald
07-08-2012, 04:02 AM
"If you want to send a message call Western Union." -- Attributed to Samuel Goldwyn

Sooner or later someone is going to say this, so it might as well be me. If you haven't read Slushkiller, now's the time.

A note on querying multiple agents at the same agency: Make sure they explicitly say this is okay. For many agencies a pass by one is a pass by all.

The advice to start on your next project right now is the best writing advice you're ever going to get. Heed it.

whirlaway
07-08-2012, 06:07 AM
1) Since I have no referral, and I exhausted my researched books, is there another way to find an agent quick? I don't want to be like others I read about where it took him/her over a year to find an agent. I would like to have an agent before the world ends on December 21, 2012.
Impatience for a novelist is like swallowing a snake. Sure, it'll get you moving but it'll bite your a** in the end.

3) If the query process fails, what would be another route to take other than self-publishing?
Miss Snark says don't give up till you've queried 100 agents. If you've queried that many, try writing another novel. Then, go back to the first one and revise based on what you learned writing the second one.

4) I query in small batches of 5 before sending out another 5, 4-6 weeks later. Is that a good stragedy, or should I send out more than 5 at any given time?
I agree with others here. I myself tossed out buckets of queries at a time. I'd sent out about 30 queries before a helpful agent pointed out to me (in a rejection letter) a potential faux pas in my query letter. I revised accordingly, but I'd already lost my chance with 29 of those agents who saw the original query.


6) If an agent does not respond, does that mean they rejected it?
Possibly--check the submission guidelines on the agency's website to see if they mention whether they *always* respond to queries or if they *only* respond to queries if interested. Check their response times (querytracker.net is a great resource for this). Have you waited long enough to assume a rejection?
But...it could be, if you snailed the query, that you forgot to enclose a #10 SASE.
Or...it could be, if you emailed the query, that you misspelled their email address (you did check right before you queried, right?).
Or...it could be that something in the subject line of your equery caused it to go straight into their spam folder.
Or...it could be, that when you sent the query they were temporarily closed to queries that day (You did check the agency website the day you queried to make sure, right?)
Keep good records. Double-check. Triple-check. Accept that some days, no matter how careful you are, you will make mistakes. That's okay. Everyone does.

7) Is there a site where I can post my query online, where agents can go to and see whats out there, in addition to sending it out by mail?
Miss Snark's First Victim hosts contests where agents read queries:
http://misssnarksfirstvictim.blogspot.ca/p/secret-agent.html

Sometimes the querytracker.net blog has contests (although they don't seem to be too frequent):
http://querytracker.blogspot.ca/p/latest-contest.html

8) How can a first time author stand out in a stack of query letters if he/she does not have a referral or past publishing history? Agents seem more interested in referrals and your credentials first, then the story cames last...
I have a boatload of short story credits and won a few international $$ awards, too. Still didn't land me an agent. Still got loads and loads of form rejections. Maybe short story credits are the icing on the cake--but not much good if the cake (novel) isn't to the agent's taste. You will still get booted. On the other hand, really good cake is fine without the icing.
And plus--what everyone else said.

Tromboli
07-08-2012, 06:49 AM
It's not that you should query an agent who represents a very similar book to yours, it's that you should query agents who represent your genre (and hopefully share some interests/style) and it CAN be good to mention successful books in the market that yours is comparable to. That way 1. the agent knows you did your research and know the market and 2. it shows them where your novel may fit (sometimes an agent won't take something on because they think it may not sell. If you show them something that DID sell it might give them more hope. But only some) But mind you if you get something that is TOO close it could back fire.
The bottom line is don't rely on it.

Just about any agent will tell you writing and story matter most (some agents say they look at writing quality first, some will say it's story and character. That's just personal opinion.) Editors look at things a little different.


And I know others mentioned this above but you have some wrong expectations about the industry. It is HARD to get an agent. Most writers query 50-100 agents before they land one (some have taken 300 or so). And most don't ever have luck on a first novel. It takes two or three. (I'm not saying you can't get an agent by december. But that's its hard to do so don't get your hopes up)

You need to clear your head a little, humble yourself. Agents are busy and sometimes it can take 8 months for an agent to read your manuscript, they have clients to work with and they are their first priority. They are doing you a favor. Think about it like that and you will be much closer to someone they will WANT to work with.

P.s. you can mention a book represented by an agent, but more or less one that has a similar tone, or style, or theme etc. Or just one you really liked. This just shows you did your research and queried them for a reason.

Sage
07-08-2012, 07:00 AM
With my first days of querying agents, I took that "find one that reps a book similar to yours" as literal truth. I had an agent I liked and I found a book she repped that sounded similar to mine. Then I mentioned all the ways in which it was similar. Male protag, magic based on music, portal, an animal companion, etc. When people told me that it sounded like the same book from my query, I didn't understand. I was supposed to find something similar. Obviously this agent liked these elements.

I never actually queried that book (it is justifiably trunked, as most first novels are) and by the time I actually got around to querying, I understood what "similar" meant. It means genre and tone and certain general elements ("she likes dark, edgy YA, and I have dark, edgy YA").

As for searching for agents, use Agent Query and Query Tracker (be careful of QT, though. It's easy to get obsessive). Browse agents' blogs and twitter, where they often give wishlists. Research their websites. You just have to do the research, but it doesn't have to be as extensive as reading every book every agent ever represented.

bearilou
07-08-2012, 05:41 PM
I want to chime in with an observation I've made regarding twitter. I follow a few agents who will tweet 10/12 query impressions, usually once a week.

The following things were the most often noted reasons why a query was given a pass.

1) the writing was not up to par
2) ms was not a genre what the agent represents
3) query didn't capture their attention

I've watched these agents for a few months now and really, those are the three biggest (and many times, the ONLY) reason they passed.

Nothing is mentioned about referrals. Nothing is mentioned about derivative. Nothing is mentioned about past publishing histories.

Your query really should sparkle. Your query should reflect the genre and match up with the agent's interests. Those are, from all that I read, the biggest things.

...well, aside from writing a kick-ass book!



Miss Snark says don't give up till you've queried 100 agents. If you've queried that many, try writing another novel. Then, go back to the first one and revise based on what you learned writing the second one.

I miss Miss Snark.

And conventional wisdom advises us writers that while we are querying, we are also writing our next book!

Old Hack
07-08-2012, 07:02 PM
I want to chime in with an observation I've made regarding twitter. I follow a few agents who will tweet 10/12 query impressions, usually once a week.

The following things were the most often noted reasons why a query was given a pass.

1) the writing was not up to par
2) ms was not a genre what the agent represents
3) query didn't capture their attention

When I was terrorised by my own slush pile, almost all of the submissions I received failed on one or both of those first two points. Usually on both.

stargazer11
07-15-2012, 01:44 AM
Thanks guys...