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cacoethes scribendi
09-24-2012, 02:00 AM
Please forgive this question, I'm sure it has been suffered before, but.... when a manuscript is complete, why wouldn't the author just send it to all of the big publishing houses in one shot? Then, if there are no takers, move onto second tier publishers and repeat the process? Then, lower tiers. After 1 year, if no progress, just self-publish, even though first publishing rights will then be unavailable to future interested parties.

I'm sure I reveal a raft of misunderstandings about how the process and the industry works, but this is a starting point. Many thanks in advance.:e2shower:

Siri Kirpal
09-24-2012, 02:24 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Two reasons: 1) You can't get into the big publishing houses without an agent. 2) Each time someone makes a suggestion, you can improve your ms, which means you don't want to blow all your big options at once.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

mirandashell
09-24-2012, 02:26 AM
Also, publishing houses get thousands of subs every year. They need a way to get through them. That's why they have submission guidlines. If you don't follow them, your MS will go straight in the bin.

cacoethes scribendi
09-24-2012, 02:50 AM
Two reasons: 1) You can't get into the big publishing houses without an agent. 2) Each time someone makes a suggestion, you can improve your ms, which means you don't want to blow all your big options at once.


Many thanks for this reply. I see. Makes sense. What is the likelihood that the rejecting publisher makes a suggestion?

cacoethes scribendi
09-24-2012, 02:55 AM
Also, publishing houses get thousands of subs every year. They need a way to get through them. That's why they have submission guidlines. If you don't follow them, your MS will go straight in the bin.

Thank you for this reply. So, to have any chance at all of getting into the big publishing houses, an agent is required. If I understand well, agents usually only take a fee if they manage to sell a book. Is that correct?

buz
09-24-2012, 03:01 AM
Thank you for this reply. So, to have any chance at all of getting into the big publishing houses, an agent is required. If I understand well, agents usually only take a fee if they manage to sell a book. Is that correct?

Yep.

Little Ming
09-24-2012, 03:05 AM
Agents get paid a percentage of what the author makes. Author makes nothing, agent makes nothing. Any agent who wants you to pay upfront needs to be investigated because that's not the way things work.

As already mentioned, most big publishers do not take unagented submissions, but even the ones that still do, like Tor, can take up to two years to respond. And some of these publishers do not allow simultaneous submissions, which means you can only submit to one publisher at a time. Even if you were able to submit to all the big publishers on your own it might take a decade to get through them all.

cacoethes scribendi
09-24-2012, 03:20 AM
Yep. OK, thanks.


Agents get paid a percentage of what the author makes. Author makes nothing, agent makes nothing. Any agent who wants you to pay upfront needs to be investigated because that's not the way things work.

As already mentioned, most big publishers do not take unagented submissions, but even the ones that still do, like Tor, can take up to two years to respond. And some of these publishers do not allow simultaneous submissions, which means you can only submit to one publisher at a time. Even if you were able to submit to all the big publishers on your own it might take a decade to get through them all.

Thank you, that's clear.

So, when I think my MS is finished, incorporating advice from critters / beta-readers, then best to go hunting for an agent.

Then, I will hope that some of the agents I contact, will give suggestions for further improvement (unless they think my book doesn't even merit a detailed reply).

Does that sound like a sensible plan?

BenPanced
09-24-2012, 03:22 AM
Many thanks for this reply. I see. Makes sense. What is the likelihood that the rejecting publisher makes a suggestion?
If the manuscript is unsolicited, two things can happen to it: it'll get returned to the author unread or it'll get thrown away. Chances are almost 100% nobody'll read it to make any comments or suggestions for improvement.

buz
09-24-2012, 03:25 AM
So, when I think my MS is finished, incorporating advice from critters / beta-readers, then best to go hunting for an agent.

Then, I will hope that some of the agents I contact, will give suggestions for further improvement (unless they think my book doesn't even merit a detailed reply).

Does that sound like a sensible plan?

When your MS is finished, write the query. Incorporate advice from critters on the query. Research agents. Send off queries, and possibly synopses, depending on what the specific agents require you to send. If you want, you can skip the agents and only send to publishing houses that take on unagented manuscripts, but this will limit your submissions pool and could take a while. (Well, it's gonna take a while anyway...)

The agents, if they reject you, will most often reject you with a non-response or form rejection. You can't infer anything from this, unfortunately. Occasionally, an agent might give feedback when they reject you, but this is not the norm--if you do get feedback, be grateful, and improve based on that feedback. Just don't depend on getting it. :D

Little Ming
09-24-2012, 03:38 AM
...

Then, I will hope that some of the agents I contact, will give suggestions for further improvement (unless they think my book doesn't even merit a detailed reply).



Don't count on it. Agents can get over a hundred submissions a week, plus many already have a full client list that they need to take care of. Most simply don't have the time to give feedback to non-clients.

cacoethes scribendi
09-24-2012, 03:40 AM
If the manuscript is unsolicited, two things can happen to it: it'll get returned to the author unread or it'll get thrown away. Chances are almost 100% nobody'll read it to make any comments or suggestions for improvement.

Thanks. Does unsolicited mean sent directly, cutting out the agent?

Do you know what is the likelihood of receiving feedback for solicited work?:)

cacoethes scribendi
09-24-2012, 03:44 AM
Don't count on it. Agents can get over a hundred submissions a week, plus many already have a full client list that they need to take care of. Most simply don't have the time to give feedback to non-clients.

Ah, I see. OK, thanks.

Jersey Chick
09-24-2012, 03:45 AM
Unsolicited means the agent didn't request material (a lot of agents will accept the 1st three chapters along with a query, or you can send the first five pages if there is no specific sub guideline.) When an agent responds to a query by asking for more material, that is when it's considered solicited.

You might receive feedback on solicited material, but it isn't necessarily a given.

cacoethes scribendi
09-24-2012, 03:48 AM
When your MS is finished, write the query. Incorporate advice from critters on the query. Research agents. Send off queries, and possibly synopses, depending on what the specific agents require you to send. If you want, you can skip the agents and only send to publishing houses that take on unagented manuscripts, but this will limit your submissions pool and could take a while. (Well, it's gonna take a while anyway...)

The agents, if they reject you, will most often reject you with a non-response or form rejection. You can't infer anything from this, unfortunately. Occasionally, an agent might give feedback when they reject you, but this is not the norm--if you do get feedback, be grateful, and improve based on that feedback. Just don't depend on getting it. :D

Many thanks for this advice.

Sorry for expanding the question's scope, but what is a good way to research agents? :)

Cyia
09-24-2012, 03:55 AM
You're not likely to get feedback, period. It's getting hectic and scary out there for agents, and their best recourse is to simply say "no thank you" or only respond if they're asking for additional pages. (You usually only send 5-10 pages with a query.)

To find an agent, go to Query Tracker or Agent Query (both free) and use their system to put in your genre and age group (if you're writing for kids or teens), then get the list it generates and come back here or to Preditors and Editors and see what the reputation of each agent on the list is. There's a nifty search feature at the top of the forum, so it shouldn't be too difficult to find any agent on your list.

For help with your query, you can either read some of the queries posted here in Share Your Work, or read the archives of Query Shark, and when your query's done, you can post it here for feedback.

And, since your location shows France, I'd like to mention that you don't have to restrict yourself to French (or even European) agents, unless you specifically want someone based in that market. American, Canadian, and British agents will accept queries and clients outside their own countries.

Jersey Chick
09-24-2012, 03:56 AM
One way to search is AgentQuery (http://www.agentquery.com/). There's also B&BC right here on AW. Depending on what you write, RWA has a list, as other writers' organizations might.

KSelwonk
09-24-2012, 09:31 AM
Don't self pub right away! take it from me, it sucks... Never allow any company that requires money up front to publish your book, and don't be too quick to give up on querying, or let it intimidate you. The publishing world is scary, but we help you do it right... bleh..

cacoethes scribendi
09-24-2012, 01:02 PM
You're not likely to get feedback, period. It's getting hectic and scary out there for agents, and their best recourse is to simply say "no thank you" or only respond if they're asking for additional pages. (You usually only send 5-10 pages with a query.)

To find an agent, go to Query Tracker or Agent Query (both free) and use their system to put in your genre and age group (if you're writing for kids or teens), then get the list it generates and come back here or to Preditors and Editors and see what the reputation of each agent on the list is. There's a nifty search feature at the top of the forum, so it shouldn't be too difficult to find any agent on your list.

For help with your query, you can either read some of the queries posted here in Share Your Work, or read the archives of Query Shark, and when your query's done, you can post it here for feedback.

And, since your location shows France, I'd like to mention that you don't have to restrict yourself to French (or even European) agents, unless you specifically want someone based in that market. American, Canadian, and British agents will accept queries and clients outside their own countries.

Super advice, thank you.

It's comforting also to know that agents will work with clients beyond their own borders.

I am getting ahead of myself of course, but is it worth targeting geographically disparate agents in the hope that one may think that the MS is suited to his/her local region?

Are there legal barriers forcing publishers to use only local agents?
If one agent likes the MS and succeeds in getting it published in one region, could the same agent try to publish elsewhere?

cacoethes scribendi
09-24-2012, 01:07 PM
Don't self pub right away! take it from me, it sucks... Never allow any company that requires money up front to publish your book, and don't be too quick to give up on querying, or let it intimidate you. The publishing world is scary, but we help you do it right... bleh..

Thanks for the encouragement. What problem did you encounter with self-publishing? I understand that once it's done, first publishing rights are gone and publishing houses are unlikely to but your book unless it is a masterpiece (which we shouldn't bank on, right?). Did you find other pitfalls?

waylander
09-24-2012, 01:14 PM
Are there legal barriers forcing publishers to use only local agents?
If one agent likes the MS and succeeds in getting it published in one region, could the same agent try to publish elsewhere?

No such barriers exist afaik
Agents absolutely will pursue foreign markets rights, especially if the book does well in its first market.

cacoethes scribendi
09-24-2012, 02:09 PM
Unsolicited means the agent didn't request material (a lot of agents will accept the 1st three chapters along with a query, or you can send the first five pages if there is no specific sub guideline.) When an agent responds to a query by asking for more material, that is when it's considered solicited.

You might receive feedback on solicited material, but it isn't necessarily a given.

OK, understood. Thanks.

Cyia
09-24-2012, 02:24 PM
The difference in geography comes down to foreign vs domestic rights when a book is sold.

If your agent is based in the states, then sales to an American publisher will be "domestic" regardless of where you live. Since the American standard for domestic sales is 15% commission to your agent, that's the split for those sales - 15% to your agent and 85% to you. If the book sells to the UK, France, Japan, wherever, then those are "foreign" sales. That involves a sub-agent, who gets 5% commission on top of your agent's, which makes your portion 80% on those sales.

The difference in having an agent in a different country comes in determining which country is considered your "domestic" country for the sake of sales. Sign with an agent in the UK, and UK sales become your domestic sales while sales to the US become foreign.

cacoethes scribendi
09-24-2012, 02:54 PM
The difference in geography comes down to foreign vs domestic rights when a book is sold.

If your agent is based in the states, then sales to an American publisher will be "domestic" regardless of where you live. Since the American standard for domestic sales is 15% commission to your agent, that's the split for those sales - 15% to your agent and 85% to you. If the book sells to the UK, France, Japan, wherever, then those are "foreign" sales. That involves a sub-agent, who gets 5% commission on top of your agent's, which makes your portion 80% on those sales.

The difference in having an agent in a different country comes in determining which country is considered your "domestic" country for the sake of sales. Sign with an agent in the UK, and UK sales become your domestic sales while sales to the US become foreign.

A great point.

If I understand, one's relationship with a good agent can make a huge difference over time. Therefore, I suppose that jumping ship and using another agent in foreign markets to save the sub-agent fee, would be taken as disloyalty by the original agent?

Maybe it is even illegal? Perhaps in the original agreement, there would be a clause saying that if the book is successful and is to move into foreign markets, then the original agent must be given the option to implement this?

Yes, I know I'm getting very far ahead now :)

cacoethes scribendi
09-24-2012, 02:56 PM
No such barriers exist afaik
Agents absolutely will pursue foreign markets rights, especially if the book does well in its first market.

That's good to know, thanks.

Old Hack
09-24-2012, 03:54 PM
I suppose that jumping ship and using another agent in foreign markets to save the sub-agent fee, would be taken as disloyalty by the original agent?

Your contract with your agent wouldn't allow this, and you'd not benefit by doing it: you'd have to find agents in each of the various territories who were willing to take you on, which would be difficult; and once they found that you already had representation in your home market they'd almost certainly refuse to work with you.

quicklime
09-24-2012, 04:55 PM
Many thanks for this reply. I see. Makes sense. What is the likelihood that the rejecting publisher makes a suggestion?


near zero. they may have rejected a hundred, or more, books that day, so unless they like it enough to tell you how to fix it so they can buy it, they don't tell you what is wrong.

waylander
09-24-2012, 05:11 PM
If you start receiving individualised rejections, perhaps commenting on some aspect of the sample chapters the agent/editor didn't like, then you know you are getting close.

cacoethes scribendi
09-24-2012, 07:10 PM
If you start receiving individualised rejections, perhaps commenting on some aspect of the sample chapters the agent/editor didn't like, then you know you are getting close.

Thanks for this insight, it's nice to have an idea of what milestones lie along the way :)

cacoethes scribendi
09-24-2012, 07:58 PM
near zero. they may have rejected a hundred, or more, books that day, so unless they like it enough to tell you how to fix it so they can buy it, they don't tell you what is wrong.

Ah. If an agent is interested and thinks a book is worth promoting, would he/she normally inform you of the submissions made to publishers, or does it all just go into a black hole?

cacoethes scribendi
09-24-2012, 08:02 PM
Your contract with your agent wouldn't allow this, and you'd not benefit by doing it: you'd have to find agents in each of the various territories who were willing to take you on, which would be difficult; and once they found that you already had representation in your home market they'd almost certainly refuse to work with you.

Thanks. I'm not a bad person, but I just had to ask :)

Little Ming
09-24-2012, 08:36 PM
cacoethes scribendi, I encourage you to do more research on your own instead of asking all these individual questions. Most of them have been asked and answered multiple times, and it seems to me that you are not very familiar with how things work or some of the industry terms. It makes it harder for members to have to reread this entire thread to figure out what you are asking.

For example:


Ah. If an agent is interested and thinks a book is worth promoting, agents don't "promote" books. Agents "sell" books to publishers. Publishers have their own department to "promote" books. would he/she normally inform you of the submissions made to publishers, I'm confused by your question, because going back through the thread, it seems like this question originated from whether a rejecting publisher would make a "suggestion" (not sure what you mean by suggestion), but here you are asking about agents in the same context. Publishers and agents play different roles, so I'm not sure how you want to answer this question. or does it all just go into a black hole?

I'm not sure what you are asking in this question. As many have already told you, agents are unlikely to give detailed feedback to a non-client. It is possible that if an agent feels you are very, very close you might get some feedback, but again, don't count on it.

I don't know what you mean " inform you of the submissions made to publishers." If you are not a client, why would an agent inform you of their business-dealings?

I'm not trying to be mean, but I really think you will learn a lot more if you just read around. Even just reading random threads can teach you a lot about publishing that you never thought of. :)

Cyia
09-24-2012, 09:45 PM
If you sign with an agent - and only if - they will then submit the book to editors (at publishers) they think will be interested. Some agents only tell you if you get an offer, others will pass along any and all communications from those editors. You'd need to talk to your agent up front to determine which method you'd prefer and how your agent prefers to work.

Agents should NEVER be speaking to publishers about books or authors they don't represent. It taints the submission waters for the author if they sign somewhere else.

Old Hack
09-24-2012, 10:09 PM
cacoethes scribendi, I encourage you to do more research on your own instead of asking all these individual questions.

I agree with the need for writers to do their own research but sometimes things that seem obvious to those of us who already know all this stuff are not at all obvious to those who don't have the same expertise that we have, nor is it always easy to understand what it is, exactly, we need to learn, or the questions we need to ask.

I thought that this thread was developing into a really useful primer on how publishing works for new writers, to be honest. And I'm surprised by your reaction to it (and no, I really don't intend that to be mean or critical, it's just an observation).

Little Ming
09-24-2012, 10:21 PM
I agree with the need for writers to do their own research but sometimes things that seem obvious to those of us who already know all this stuff are not at all obvious to those who don't have the same expertise that we have, nor is it always easy to understand what it is, exactly, we need to learn, or the questions we need to ask.

I thought that this thread was developing into a really useful primer on how publishing works for new writers, to be honest. And I'm surprised by your reaction to it (and no, I really don't intend that to be mean or critical, it's just an observation).

It might just be me, but I felt like some of the same questions (or variations of the same questions) were being asked and answered, i.e. the will agents/publishers give detailed feedback question. Of course, that might just be because many members, myself included, answered the same question, so it felt like it was becoming repetitive.

I'll bow out now. :)

Old Hack
09-24-2012, 10:46 PM
No, Ming, don't disappear. You're useful and helpful and fine. I think that after we've been here for a while we start to see questions being repeated and it can get old: but it's important that we keep answering and helping where we can, as those questions are new to the people asking them and they need help, just like we did once.

(Except for me, of course: I've always known everything, obviously.)

cacoethes scribendi
09-25-2012, 03:34 AM
it seems to me that you are not very familiar with how things work or some of the industry terms.

This is certainly true and I flag this in the message which started the thread. I hope it doesn't preclude me from asking questions however. I feel encouraged by the fact that I received such constructive and well-informed advice.



It makes it harder for members to have to reread this entire thread to figure out what you are asking. For example:

I don't know what you mean " inform you of the submissions made to publishers." If you are not a client, why would an agent inform you of their business-dealings?

This is based on the assumption that an agent has accepted an author as a client. My question is whether agents openly inform authors of the efforts they are making, or if the industry culture doesn't lend itself to this.



agents don't "promote" books. Agents "sell" books to publishers. Publishers have their own department to "promote" books.

Definition of promote (source:
http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/promote?q=promote)
verb
[with object]
1support or actively encourage (a cause, venture, etc.); further the progress of:
give publicity to (a product, organization, or venture) so as to increase sales or public awareness:

I'm new to this, so I rely on generic terms which I believe are accurate and hope experienced people will see past this :) I meant that if the agent likes the book, he engages with the author and promotes it to the publisher, who, if she buys it, promotes it to booksellers, who in turn (if they engage), promote it to readers. I hope that's broadly true?


It might just be me, but I felt like some of the same questions (or variations of the same questions) were being asked and answered, i.e. the will agents/publishers give detailed feedback question. Of course, that might just be because many members, myself included, answered the same question, so it felt like it was becoming repetitive.


I feel fairly sure that I didn't ask the same question twice and that each question I asked was built on information provided in this thread. In a few cases, several people kindly provided answers to the same question and I wished to thank them individually as the discussion progressed. Each contribution enriched my understanding of the process and I wished to acknowledge that.

:Sun:

cacoethes scribendi
09-26-2012, 05:33 AM
Some agents only tell you if you get an offer, others will pass along any and all communications from those editors. You'd need to talk to your agent up front to determine which method you'd prefer and how your agent prefers to work.

Thanks, will do (if I get that far). I asked the question because in some service industries, the service providers avoid open communication with clients, sometimes admittedly with good reason. I have no reference in the literary agency business of course. A commission only arrangement should act to motivate agents I would think, but personally, I would like to know what is being done on my behalf. I would try to have the discussion early in the process as you suggest. :)