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suestrong315
02-12-2013, 06:27 AM
I've heard that if the beginnng of the query is bad, the agent won't read the rest of it. So if they query is decent, but let's say the synopsis is poor, will the agent really read the first 1-50 pages attached (bc agents vary) or do they get half way through the synopsis and say "nevermind" and send a form rejection letter?

What makes a query/synopsis/fist X amount of pages worthy of a personal rejection? And when an agent says "not this time" does that mean in let's say 6-12 months, with serious revisions, it's okay to try again?

Siri Kirpal
02-12-2013, 08:13 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Some agents answer questions here, but not many.

If they don't like what they see, then no, they don't continue. Whether a decent query would prompt one to overlook a poor synopsis and continue on to the pages, depends on the agent. Some do, and some don't.

Ditto with revisions. Some agents won't look at them. Some will.

As for why a personal rejection as opposed to silence or a form, that too depends on the agent. But usually. in my experience, it's gee-I-like-this-but-I-don't-love-it-enough-to-take-it-on OR something's just outside their comfort zone in one way or another.

Hope that helps. Once you've reached 50 posts, you can post your query in Query Letter Hell and let folks look it over. And you can then also post your first chapter or first 1000 words or so in the relevant section of Share Your Work.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

buz
02-12-2013, 08:25 AM
I've heard that if the beginnng of the query is bad, the agent won't read the rest of it. So if they query is decent, but let's say the synopsis is poor, will the agent really read the first 1-50 pages attached (bc agents vary) or do they get half way through the synopsis and say "nevermind" and send a form rejection letter?

An agent stops reading when they decide that they don't want to take on the project. This can happen at any point. However, some agents start reading at different places--I have heard of some who go straight to the sample pages first--but there's no way of knowing, really.


What makes a query/synopsis/fist X amount of pages worthy of a personal rejection? An agent will write a personal rejection if they feel like it. There aren't specific criteria, and it seems it's getting increasingly unsafe to send personal rejections (information age and all that), so they are quite rare for queries. Personal rejections are given more often for full manuscripts/requested material than unsolicited queries.


And when an agent says "not this time" does that mean in let's say 6-12 months, with serious revisions, it's okay to try again?If the agent specifically asks you to revise and resubmit, then yes. If they do not explicitly ask you to do that, you generally don't resubmit, unless there is very extensive revamping of the manuscript and query and some significant time has passed. (This is all general guidelines-type stuff; there are exceptions.)

shaldna
02-12-2013, 02:20 PM
An agent stops reading when they decide that they don't want to take on the project. This can happen at any point. However, some agents start reading at different places--I have heard of some who go straight to the sample pages first--but there's no way of knowing, really.

I was just going to say this. Each person is different, but basically they will read for as long as your story is capturing their attention.

quicklime
02-12-2013, 05:55 PM
a lot depends on how bad, and at what point.

I might read an entire lackluster query through, in case something convinces me otherwise (as an imaginary agent) but if I see an opening like "Call me Vladimir, and fear me: I am a Vampyre." I'm out. If I see a closing paragraph about how someone's book will reinvent reading for the masses and is the smartest thriller to come along in decades, I'm out. If I see a few sentences like "Allana, only has one want, to become the, next great macician of Ethermere." I'm out.

Old Hack
02-12-2013, 07:05 PM
When I was editing full-time, I worked on non-fiction.

If I received anything that wasn't non-fiction, of the specific kind we worked with, I'd reject it as soon as I realised that. Which usually meant without reading any of the work.

I've seen many writers say they're going to submit to everyone they can find, even to publishers which aren't appropriate for their work, just in case someone takes a shine to their submission. It's not going to happen, and it wastes everyone's time and money.

blacbird
02-14-2013, 09:56 AM
When you go to a bookstore, how much of any given book do you read before you decide that's not the one for you and go looking for another?

caw

Jamesaritchie
02-14-2013, 07:06 PM
An agent or editors reads until the writer puts up a stop sign. This stop sign can be at the end of the first sentence, or halfway through a full novel, but just as when driving, it means STOP!.

JSSchley
02-14-2013, 08:14 PM
An agent reads as much as s/he needs to in order to make a decision.

Read Query Shark (http://queryshark.blogspot.com)--often, Janet Reid will write in her critique exactly the point she would've decided to send a rejection letter. Sometimes, it's after a single sentence.

It's sobering, but useful.

Writeoncon (http://www.writeoncon.com) has also hosted several "live slush pile" events, where an agent goes through the submitted queries and comments on all the things that really go through her (I say her because they've all been female) head as she's reading. Again, really useful to see where they stop and *why.*

Also, when I used to be a publishing peon who was the first eyes on the slushpile, my first go was genre. The house I worked for published commercial nonfiction, so if the letter began, "I'm seeking publication for my novel," out the door it went. Same thing if the writing was horrible. If it was something akin to what we published and the writing was passable, then I sent it up the chain.

Anne Lyle
02-15-2013, 08:05 PM
I've heard that if the beginnng of the query is bad, the agent won't read the rest of it. So if they query is decent, but let's say the synopsis is poor, will the agent really read the first 1-50 pages attached (bc agents vary) or do they get half way through the synopsis and say "nevermind" and send a form rejection letter?

Well,

a) These days most US agents (and some UK ones) only want a query letter to begin with - no pages or synopsis;

b) I've heard a lot of agents say they read the sample pages first, before the synopsis, because that gives them a far better idea of how good a writer you are. If they like the opening, a synopsis gives them an overview of the plot and an idea of whether the rest of the story is likely to work.

I'm not sure what use this information is, tbh. You write your best and send it in - the agent's habits aren't going to make a jot of difference. Generally you'll never find out at what point they stopped.

The hard fact is, if your writing doesn't grab the agent in the first page or so, you'll get a rejection, because there are too many good manuscripts out there to persevere with a weak opening. If they make it to page 50 and still love it, a not-quite-perfect synopsis probably won't be a deal-breaker.

Jamesaritchie
02-16-2013, 11:48 PM
I don't think it' s ever good to send a query without including three to five sample pages. It's rare to find an agent that actually says not to send ample pages. Miss Snark always called sending these pages an unwritten rule. She's right.

An agent that gets pissed because you include from three to five pages is not an agent anyone should want to work with. These pages save the writer time, save the agent time, and often save a poor query from rejection.