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View Full Version : the art of nudging your agent (alternate title: is this weird?)



bookishjen
12-11-2013, 11:52 PM
hello everyone

I signed with my agent almost three months ago -- I selected her as opposed to other offering agents because she seemed like a pretty amazing individual but especially because she was super-enthusiastic about my MS and said -- repeatedly, without my asking or prodding -- that she wanted to send it out right away ("i don't want to rush you," an email she wrote to me says, "but I just can't wait to send this out."). Once I accepted she told me that she would be sending it out in the next couple of days.

Cut to: it's been nearly three months and to my understanding it's still not been sent out -- I last touched base with her about six weeks ago, and only then because I hadn't yet received a countersigned representation agreement. At that time, she said she'd been incredibly busy and hadn't had the opportunity to compile a list of editors yet but that as soon as she did she would send it to me. I have not heard from her since -- other than when I received the countersigned agreement in the mail.

I am new to all of this, but do realize that the publishing world is specialized. Normally, I would email her and politely ask where things are and what she might expect. But I don't know if that is something acceptable to do. I don't want to come off badly if I don't have to -- I really just want to know what the status is. I also can't help but (internally) wonder if maybe she's lost interest in the project, in which case I wish she would simply tell me so that I could pursue the project with someone else (or at least know what the story is, so to speak).

I do know that writers are not really encouraged to be picky or demanding and get that it's within the realm of possibility that I just have to suck it up and deal. And I definitely understand that not all agented manuscripts find a home; I'm just hoping it's reasonable to expect that it would at least be sent out.

It would be helpful to get some guidance -- is this situation at all common? and when faced with a situation like this is it acceptable/useful to nudge your agent? Any insight would be invaluable to a newbie like me. Thank you so much!

Perks
12-12-2013, 12:08 AM
I am new to all of this, but do realize that the publishing world is specialized. Normally, I would email her and politely ask where things are and what she might expect.

That sounds perfectly reasonable to me. Keep it short and professional and don't fall all over yourself apologizing for your existence. (I know we sometimes feel like doing this, but don't ask me how I know.)

Just ask!

I very much doubt your worst fears are coming to flower, but if somehow that were the case, better to know now.

Again, don't ask me how I know this.

amergina
12-12-2013, 12:11 AM
I'm also in the Just Ask camp. :)

Email your agent. There *should* be open lines of communication!

heza
12-12-2013, 12:36 AM
It's been a month and a half since you last heard word? I don't think it would be unreasonable to email at this point. Every week? Sure, that'd be annoying, but it's been more than a month.

I know it makes you nervous to appear high maintenance, but you're not querying. You're under contract; this agent reps you. You shouldn't be a pest on a weekly basis, but don't be afraid to communicate with your agent at reasonable intervals if you have questions.

If it makes you feel bad calling it a nudge, then just think of it as checking the status so you can stay informed.

triceretops
12-12-2013, 03:19 AM
Not unreasonable to email at this point. That's a rather long wait, judging from the prior enthusiasm. However, it is not uncommon for an agent to get side-tracked with another situation that needs immediate attention, like a sale, preempt or the hint of an auction. It took my agent over 40 days to compile a list for a second round and begin her subs to the biggies. I just had to bear with it.

I swear, this industry is glacier slow, rife with miscommunications or lack thereof. Tighten your seat belt, knowing that you are in for a long, sometimes slow ride.

tri

MandyHubbard
12-12-2013, 04:14 AM
Wait, you signed almost THREE MONTHS AGO, and to your knowledge the book hasn't even been sent out--and if it has, you have no submission list?

I would call her up and ask if it has been sent out.

And if it has not, I would sever the agreement andgo talk to one of the other agents.

This is a hint at your future relationship with her. If she can't even send out your material for three months, do you want to know how long it takes her to negotaite your contract? mail the funds? Read your next work so that it can be submitted?

Unless she has a good reason- like oh hey i'm sorry I found out of i have cancer/there's been a death in the family/etc-- you've had an agent for three months in name only, and if she hasn't shopped it you could still go with the other agent(s) in stead.

bookishjen
12-12-2013, 04:43 AM
All of these comments are really helpful. MandyHubbard, I have to say I have thought about calling her up for the very reasons you say. The way she has acted has not sat well with me, not in her unresponsiveness (I get that people are busy) but in what now seems like disingenuousness at the outset. I was set to accept with a different agent when I received this long enthusiastic email in which she said she wanted to send it out the following week. I did not ask or prod, this was her suggestion. I asked if she wanted to me make any changes to the MS, she said no, that it was ready to go. I come from an industry where if you say you're going to do something, you sort of have to do it, and so as you suggest, her conduct has made me think about what this would mean for other aspects of the representation relationship.

I am very torn because when I met her I truly liked her, she is an agent with reputable clients, she seemed very smart and personable. And so there's a part of me that hopes it's as triceratops suggests, that maybe she got waylaid by something else. And it's possible I am engaging in wishful thinking because I am uneasy about going back to the agents I rejected, as I wonder if they may think I'm difficult or wishy-washy. But everyone's advice here is correct, I should ask, and so I will.

Quickbread
12-12-2013, 09:15 AM
bookishjen, there's no reason to feel bad about going back to other agents. (As long as you've terminated with your current agent first and follow your contract requirements.) It happens. Relationships and agents don't always pan out the way we hope they will. If you're professional and brief in saying it wasn't a good fit, I'm guessing it won't be a problem for most agents, especially if they were enthusiastic about your project.

The timing is a bit concerning to me, too, probably because it reminds me of my ex-agent, from whom I never got a signed agency agreement even after I asked for it directly. I got a submission list a couple of months later, and then he went dark. He never followed up on my request for a call nor my polite once-a-month email inquiries about my submission status. Turns out he wasn't pitching it anywhere at all. My ex-agent was probably the exception because he was busy exiting the business (unbeknownst to me). But still I learned that slow agents are just slow. Unresponsive agents are just unresponsive. There's no changing their communication style. You have to decide what you're comfortable with. After a non-responder, I also learned I don't tolerate it well. (And I thought I would be fine with it.)

Good luck! I hope things turn out well with your agent.

Old Hack
12-12-2013, 11:53 AM
Wait, you signed almost THREE MONTHS AGO, and to your knowledge the book hasn't even been sent out--and if it has, you have no submission list?

I would call her up and ask if it has been sent out.

And if it has not, I would sever the agreement andgo talk to one of the other agents.

That seems far too swift and extreme a reaction to me.

The last three months have been a bit busy in the publishing world. There might well be reasonable explanations for the delay.

Cathy C
12-12-2013, 04:00 PM
I have to agree with Old Hack. The publishing world runs in "seasons". If you signed on three months ago, you signed during the unofficial "post-summer" flurry of activity. The summer months in NYC are filled with short days (keeping electricity costs in buildings down) and staff vacations. September returns the pub business back to a sort of frantic activity to make up for the lost months.Then things start to slow down again for the holiday months (November & December) and pick back up come January.

My advice is to let the holiday go by and email the agent in January. My bet is that if the agent is worth her salt, she realized her early delay (for whatever reason) likely caused a situation where the ms. would get buried in the holiday rubble on editors' desks. The solution? Wait to submit until January when minds and desks are clear again. :)

I'm not excusing the early delay, but a couple more weeks won't hurt anything in the scheme of things. And, if you're still unsatisfied come January, you're in a prime reading time for other agents too.

Barbara R.
12-12-2013, 04:28 PM
She should have sent it out already. If there's no editing involved, then the book doesn't need to sit on her shelves for months while she tries to find 10 minutes to sit down and plan her strategy.

That said, agents do get frantically busy and things fall between the cracks. They travel a lot, too---many attend at least a couple of international book fairs a year, each of which requires a month of work before and after. You don't want to be pissy, but you don't want to be silent, either. I had a student once who went with an agent I recommended. The agent loved her novel but couldn't quite figure out how to sell it. Because my student was timid and unsure of herself and never nudged, it ended up with a whole year passing and no submissions made. What a waste. My student ended up taking the book back and finding another agent, who sold it to Random House in short order.

You liked the agent. She liked your book. The relationship is worth saving if possible. My suggestion would be to email her--phoning is confrontational--and pointing out what you did here--that's it's been 3 months and she originally indicated that the ms. would go out at once. Ask her to move forward and to keep you informed of submissions. If she ignores that email, then you'll have to take it further---call her and ask if she's still interested, or just take the book back.

I'd wait till after the new year, though. Lots of people are on vacation, including editors.

Good luck.

oakbark
12-12-2013, 07:40 PM
hello everyone
I also can't help but (internally) wonder if maybe she's lost interest in the project

I am not represented but in my view an agent is like a manager with all the connections, the know of what works and what not, good with the pep-talk and even better with brutal honesty. Agents represent writers, you, not individual projects.



I would call now, with a mindset that it might take more time. Touch base, see what's what.

Still, no communication for 3 months if your book is ready..

If bogged down in other stuff, the agent could at least have gotten back with a "working on it" message. I would call. Be nice though.

I suppose you did your research before you signed? The agent is representing other writers and logging sales.., right?

MandyHubbard
12-12-2013, 08:08 PM
Here's the thing. YES, agents get busy. I often say my workload is like a grocery store conveyor belt-- I can clear items off but it just moves again and more is added to the other end.

I will never NOT be busy.

If this agent has extenuating circumstances--something's happened since signing that bogged her down-- okay. But if she can't offer anything but "I got busy" then it's time to realize she WILL ALWAYS be busy. And you're the new client--she knew what her workload was when she offered.

Here's how it would go if it were me:

ME: Oh hi, X! I'm just calling as I hadn't heard from you in awhile. Were you able to get my book out on submissions?
If the answer is: Oh, um, hm.... well, no, not yet, I'm hoping too soon!
Then, I say: Oh. Uh, it's been three months and you were all ready to go in September. What's been the hold up?
if the answer is: Oh, I've just been really swamped. Lots of X, Y, Z....
Then i say: Okay. At this point, I think it would simply be best if we part ways. No harm, no foul, but I'm really looking for something different from my relationship with my agent. I hope you understand.

Of course if in this convo, instead, she's like, "god I'm so sorry, I know I haven't been able to get it out, I totally understand your frustration, X has happened and it's just thrown me for a loop, but I'm getting caught up now.."

That's a different situation. If all she has to offer is that her agenting duties are SO busy that she can't even send out your book, I would not stay.

Maybe some of you think that's rash, but there is nothing about this agent's job that is going to drastically change. What's happening now will CONTINUE to happen.


I have to agree with Old Hack. The publishing world runs in "seasons". If you signed on three months ago, you signed during the unofficial "post-summer" flurry of activity. The summer months in NYC are filled with short days (keeping electricity costs in buildings down) and staff vacations. September returns the pub business back to a sort of frantic activity to make up for the lost months.Then things start to slow down again for the holiday months (November & December) and pick back up come January.



Submissions slow slightly, and agents tend not to submit the week OF Christmas, New years, Thanksgiving, etc, but other than that we're still working year round and I've sold books every single month of the year. Nov/Dec isn't really that slow-- I just closed a deal on Tuesday and am expecting an offer on something else today.


In the summer, it might take an extra week for an offer to come in because someone's boss is out but by and large, it's business as usual.

Not every day is shorter-- generally it's simply a half day on fridays at most publishers. It would be ridiculous to do less work all summer and then go crazy all fall trying to make up for it. My clients send me books, I read them, edit them, get them out on submissions, and sell them. I negotiate contracts, chase payments, etc. All year round.

Basically, either the agent has a good reason or it's a bunch of excuses and she's got too much on her plate.

This is all my personal opinion and how *I* would want to be treated as a client, and how I strive to operate as an agent. My clients deserve communication. And yes, sometimes I get busier than usual, but I let them know I'm hoping to get to their MS by X date.

Obviously the client/agent relationship is a personal choice/preference, so if you guys want to be patient and forigiving over 3 months of nothing being done and just accept that as status quo, it's your prerogative.

goddessofgliese
12-12-2013, 09:59 PM
Three months without a single submission? Oh lord, that is way too long. Your book is ready for submission! I agree with everyone that suggests you confront her (politely).


ME: Oh hi, X! I'm just calling as I hadn't heard from you in awhile. Were you able to get my book out on submissions?
If the answer is: Oh, um, hm.... well, no, not yet, I'm hoping too soon!
Then, I say: Oh. Uh, it's been three months and you were all ready to go in September. What's been the hold up?
if the answer is: Oh, I've just been really swamped. Lots of X, Y, Z....
Then i say: Okay. At this point, I think it would simply be best if we part ways. No harm, no foul, but I'm really looking for something different from my relationship with my agent. I hope you understand.


Hmm, perhaps ask her exactly when she can start the submission. If she gives you an ambiguous answer or any sorts of excuses or if she can't start right away, it's time to say goodbye.

bookishjen
12-12-2013, 11:10 PM
There's so much that's helpful here, thank you so much to all of you for weighing in. It sort of makes me feel better that the opinions have been varying so much, as I have wavered on this from one end to the other.

oakbark, I did do my research and she is quite a reputable agent. I think I might be learning that "reputable" and "responsive" are two very different things. :)

I don't want to do anything rash, but I also think it's a bit much to wait until January to simply ask what the deal is. It may very well be that her expectation is to send it out in January (on an exact date, as goddessofgliese says) but given what everyone's said I think after all this time its reasonable to want to know that now. If she can't provide any real answers, I think I will explore my options. The horror stories listed above are awful, and I don't want to be another one if I don't have to.

Again, everyone, thank you so much.

Gravity
12-13-2013, 02:53 AM
Book, quick question: have you ever used a realtor to sell your house? If so, then you know they don't get paid a cent until closing.

That's why the best ones hustle; they're salespeople. More to the point, they're YOUR salesperson. You've entered into a business arrangement with them to accomplish a certain task. Should they succeed, you're going to pay them a percentage of the sale of the property; should they NOT succeed, you cut them loose, and find someone who will.

At its core, the agent/author relationship is one of business. It's wonderful if you find one who'll guide your career, listen to your woes, cheer you when you're down, and rejoice with you when you're up.

But as we say down South, all that don't feed the bulldog. Because at the end of the day, if they're unable (or unwilling) to sell your MS to a reputable house, then no one is making money.

Call your agent and get to the bottom of this. Sooner rather than later. Tick-tock, and all that.

Cricket18
12-13-2013, 07:35 AM
Way too long.

I seriously wonder if we have/had the same agent. She signed me in July/August, told me would go out "right away," because there was just a quick CE to make sure the ms was clean.

We went out at the end of November. She kept telling me how busy she was, but would get to it "soon."

She is a "big agent" and her sales records are some of the best in the business. She never shared the sub list with me, and in late January, I nudged because I hadn't heard anything.

They all passed. All 5 of them. So after nearly 7 months, this is where I was at. There's more to the story, and I won't bore you with the details, but I see your situation as a red flag as it mirrors mine.

Good luck and keep us posted. :)

bookishjen
12-13-2013, 11:16 PM
I hear you, Gravity. I live in the concrete jungle of NYC, so have never sold a home, and in terms of feeding the bulldog up here we say something far less artful but similar in sentiment: that and $2.50 will get you on the subway. If this woman was selling my home I would have switched realtors by now, I've sent her an email and am mentally preparing myself for the possible reality that it is not going to work out between us. I'll be sure to keep everyone posted.

Cricket, your story is really unfortunate and unfair, and i really appreciate your sharing it. I sometimes wonder if in waiting so long agents forget what it is they're actually representing. I imagine editors can sense an agent's excitement about a project and if she has left it sitting around for months it's hard to imagine she can convey the same excitement at the outset. Pure conjecture, I know, but I really hope you were ultimately able to find your work a home. It does sound exactly like my situation.

goddessofgliese
12-14-2013, 12:04 AM
I guess those "big agents" aren't always reliable. The agents who just start out probably will work much harder to sell your work.

cricket & bookishjen, sorry to hear about your stories and good luck!

Quickbread
12-14-2013, 01:45 AM
I think many seasoned agents work really hard, too, and invest a lot of time with their authors. But yeah, bigger isn't always better. They all have different working styles, with greater and lesser degrees of hand-holding, collaboration and responsiveness. A friend of mine, a newer midlist author, recently landed one of the most powerful agents in the business. While the agent's impressive list implies that he'd be unapproachable and overly busy, he and my friend talk all the time and collaborate closely on his new manuscript.

I know another writer who had a very impressive agent that did nothing for him. But that agent went on to sell a major bestseller for another writer. And I know yet another writer who was totally blown off by the same agent that a friend of mine has -- and loves. He's sold two of her novels to the Big Five. While my first agent was busy blowing me off, he was making deals for other writers. I guess it's just very individual.

Good luck, bookishjen. You sound like you've got a good handle on the situation. I hope your agent gives you a reasonable explanation for the delay.

Jumping Jim
12-15-2013, 05:20 PM
I'd take Agent Mandy's advice, but instead of just calling her I'd set something up first - I'd email to see if she would be available for a brief phone conversation Tuesday at 11:30 am (or whatever time is convenient to you). Here's what could happen:

- She doesn't respond to your email. I'd call Tuesday at 11:30 but I'd bet she doesn't take your call. If so, time to move on to another agent.

-Her assistant responds to your email and says your agent will not be available, but that she will contact you shortly. If I got this response, I'd still call Tuesday at 11:30.

-She responds to your email and agrees to Tuesday at 11:30 or offers an alternative time. You then call her and have the conversation Mandy suggested.

-Because she wants to avoid talking to you on the phone, she A) gives you an update via email that answers all your outstanding questions and gives you a timeline for next steps, B) gives you some vague answer that answers nothing and solves nothing, or C) tells you the market's changed or she's not as enthusiastic as she was or that your manuscript needs to be revised in some way. A is the only good answer here.

Lastly - look at how much time and energy you (and us) are putting into what should be a routine communication between an agent and a writer. Let's assume you are a talented artist, and your work is significant. Your mind and your time should be focused on your work. Shouldn't your agent be helping you?

maryland
12-15-2013, 07:13 PM
In a sad way, I am pleased to see that others are going through the same experience! Mine is perhaps even worse, and I am glad to join this thread. Last spring a publisher asked me to send in a collection of short stories, after reading some published (and prizewinning )stories.
Print and CD versions posted on 30th June. Silence. I emailed a polite query at the end of November. Nothing.
CreateSpace beckons if nothing happens by the end of January. What else can be done, as this is blocking the way for the next collection?

bookishjen
12-18-2013, 05:14 PM
Just an update: I did finally make contact, it seems the book has been submitted (or, quite possibly, is now being submitted/prepared for submission as a result of my nudge), we had a lengthy telephone call where she went over the submissions list with me in detail. We also agreed on a timeline in terms of our communications, i.e. if I don't hear from her by X date, I should get in touch.

So, we'll see what happens. I don't love that all of this happened -- I feel as though there are two possibilities: either we got off to a bad start but now things are now righting themselves and everyone lives happily ever after, or I have just prolonged disaster. I am hoping its the former, but do not foreclose the possibility of the latter. I do think as a general matter her work style is slow, and can't imagine it can change simply because I want it to.

A big thank you for all of your very good insight and advice. I am glad that I reached out when I did, I think it would have driven me a little nuts to have to go through the holidays not knowing what was going on.

Old Hack
12-18-2013, 10:40 PM
Jen, I've heard from so many writers who don't talk to their agents when there's a problem: and that causes more problems, because it means the agents can't do anything to help.

You've done the right thing. I hope it works out well for you.

Scarlett_AU
12-20-2013, 03:36 PM
Bookishjen and others, I know I really shouldn't say this but I am so glad that I am not/was not the only one losing my mind and sleep over this whole unresponsive agent saga.
I signed up with a fairly well-known agent and was given a list of changes over the phone when we first chatted. The agent did seem to have a clear sense of direction and I was super thrilled. It took 2 months to get the notes. I made the changes in a month and sent them back. I heard nothing for a few weeks - which became 2 months. I nudged, mailed and called till I got through. I got an email saying would have my second set of edits before the end of the year, so I am still waiting.I see what this agent has done for other writers' careers and it is awesome stuff. In the meanwhile, I just chew my nails and wonder if she has changed her mind/she see flaws in my writing/whether I did something wrong etc etc - ah, my fragile and frail mind!
I don't know if I am being reasonable or paranoid. Obviously, I am new to all of this and while I have heard that this industry is slow, I don't have any yardstick and I don't want to come across as pushy/annoying.
Can you kind people please pass some advice? What should I do in a situation like this?
Thanks so much everyone.
S

goddessofgliese
12-20-2013, 10:04 PM
I got an email saying would have my second set of edits before the end of the year, so I am still waiting.

When did you receive this email?

Scarlett_AU
12-21-2013, 03:56 AM
When did you receive this email?

I was supposed to get those notes sometime in Oct. After nudging, I was told at the start of the month that I would get them by the end of the year. I reckon that because of past history where I was promised something and I had to nudge the agent everytime, I am rather paranoid that this date too shall pass. :(

goddessofgliese
12-23-2013, 07:30 PM
I was supposed to get those notes sometime in Oct. After nudging, I was told at the start of the month that I would get them by the end of the year. I reckon that because of past history where I was promised something and I had to nudge the agent everytime, I am rather paranoid that this date too shall pass. :(

I suggest you wait till the end of the year. I hope it works out this time without you nudging again. If you don't receive the promised email, ask on the forum again! But I suggest you start a new thread. You'll get more response that way.

TerryRodgers
01-07-2014, 10:21 PM
Submissions slow slightly, and agents tend not to submit the week OF Christmas, New years, Thanksgiving, etc, but other than that we're still working year round and I've sold books every single month of the year. Nov/Dec isn't really that slow-- I just closed a deal on Tuesday and am expecting an offer on something else today.


In the summer, it might take an extra week for an offer to come in because someone's boss is out but by and large, it's business as usual.

Not every day is shorter-- generally it's simply a half day on fridays at most publishers. It would be ridiculous to do less work all summer and then go crazy all fall trying to make up for it. My clients send me books, I read them, edit them, get them out on submissions, and sell them. I negotiate contracts, chase payments, etc. All year round.


Thank you for this part, Mandy. There are so many wrong stories out there that make people think agents and publishers work 6 months out of the year. I'm glad to see it is absolutely not true.

MokoBunny
06-17-2014, 09:03 AM
My agent sent out some submissions. We got some good feedback and were waiting to hear back from the other editors. That was back in February... I've been putting off emailing my agent thinking they'll get back to me if they hear something. But would it be a good idea to email anyway just to check in?

brs18041
06-17-2014, 12:22 PM
My agent sent out some submissions. We got some good feedback and were waiting to hear back from the other editors. That was back in February... I've been putting off emailing my agent thinking they'll get back to me if they hear something. But would it be a good idea to email anyway just to check in?

It's been four months. Definitely check in. You have nothing to lose by checking in -- it's not at all unreasonable to have a conversation with your agent within that time period.

I personally can't go 2-3 weeks without asking for an update (especially since my agent has promised taking additional steps that haven't been followed through on). My agent has a ton of clients and the squeaky wheels get the grease, so I need to make sure I'm one of the squeaky wheels.

Honestly, I find it interesting/strange that authors are so hesitant to contact their agents (myself included -- I hover over the send button for a half hour every time I email mine). I also find it downright bizarre that it seems to be appropriate for agents to ignore their clients. It's definitely the most stressful business relationship I've ever entered.

MandyHubbard
06-17-2014, 11:26 PM
Honestly, I find it interesting/strange that authors are so hesitant to contact their agents (myself included -- I hover over the send button for a half hour every time I email mine). I also find it downright bizarre that it seems to be appropriate for agents to ignore their clients. It's definitely the most stressful business relationship I've ever entered.

I'm an agent, and even *I* find it interesting/strange/odd that authors are so hesitant to contact their own agents. I often get emails from clients going, "I'm trying not to be needy, but i was wondering if you've heard anything..." And then I reply, "You're my CLIENT, you're not being needy..."

I try very hard to be relaxed and communicative and welcome client contact but there are still clients who worry about "bothering" me.

It is NOT actually apropriate for an agent to ignore clients. Do we get busy sometimes and not contact a client for awhile? Absolutely. But if you email to ask a question it should not go unanswered. I do think there are agents who bite off more than they can chew, or whose general business model is to just sign a TON Of things and shop them all widely in one big blast and move to the next thing. And in some cases that means they're not actively managing careers and communicating well. I knew of an agent who'd been at it a year or so and had 90 clients. I know of a very big name agent whose emails are typically one sentence to his clients, and he's got well over 100 of them.

Agenting styles vary, so that's why I reccomend talking to clients to find out what to expect, and determine if that style works for you.

marin
09-14-2014, 02:01 AM
I'm a new poster, long-time lurker, and I will start here with my question... I had a similar problem to the initial poster -- long stretches with no contact at all from an agent. I sent two emails with no answer at all. Finally after 6 months, I sent an email saying I would move on to query other agents unless I heard otherwise. Her only response was an email with the briefest of apologies and feedback from editors she'd shopped my ms to. I'm thrilled to get feedback from the editors, and I'm more than okay with moving on, but here's my follow on question... How do I proceed? In the almost-year she had my ms, I've written another novel that's ready to query. Is the initial ms too shopworn to query? If I do query it, do I mention it's been shopped to three editors by a previous agent? Do I mention this in the query or later (I've seen different advice different places)? Can I query the two ms (to different agents) at the same time?

Aggy B.
09-14-2014, 02:18 AM
If it's only been to three editors, then I would say there are plenty of other folks a new agent could send it to.

You can query two different novels at the same time, but that can be confusing. Especially if they're different genres (which they may not be). And at some point you would have to tell agents "I've been querying this other thing to and so-and-so is looking at it." Folks do query more than one project at at time, but usually there is a period when only one book is out, then the second one is added to the rotation after the first book fails to find representation.

I would suggest querying the new one and then, when you get to the talking about things stage with another agent, you can also talk about the first book.

Alternately, if you had more than one offer when you'd queried the first book you might approach that agent(s) and tell them you are looking for representation again. (Assuming they would be someone you want to work with, of course.)

If the first novel only went to three editors it should have a lot of life left in it. However, your newer one could be a stronger book and a better candidate for finding a new agent. (It's unusual not to improve as a writer the more you write.)

You'll also want to be certain that the first agent has given you a complete list of the places your book was submitted to, and find out if she has a "previous contact" clause that would mean she'd get paid if the book was sold to any of those pubs within X amount of time of breaking off the client relationship with you.

Best of luck!

Siri Kirpal
09-14-2014, 02:35 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

The thread "what would you do?" by brs[and a string of numbers I've forgotten] has answers to some of this. Pay especial attention to the post by Jennifer Laugham (I hope I spelled that last name accurately); it's brilliant.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Quickbread
09-14-2014, 04:28 AM
If it was only three editors, that's nothing. There's a lot of submission life left in the manuscript, and I doubt it would deter an agent who felt it was marketable. An agent might pop in with some different first-hand insight, but I think you can feel free requerying the first one if you've ended your agent relationship.

I was in a similar situation with my manuscript. My first agent had shown it to four editors, and when I got my second agent, she said it was a non-issue because she didn't even feel they were the right editors for the work, and also because we agreed to work on a manuscript revision.

When I was requerying, I was advised by a Big Five editor to simply query it and not mention the previous agent or submission history until I got an offer and could discuss it with the agent on the phone. I definitely agree with Aggy, if you had multiple interested agents the first time around, that's the best place to start.

(But be sure you have the names of those editors. That's imperative.)