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Kevin Nelson
12-26-2013, 11:26 AM
So I've been compiling a list of agents. I've graded them into A, B, C, D, and AVOID. The grade is mainly based on their track record and client list, with particular emphasis on whether they represent big names within my own genre.

I know the standard advice is to start at the top and work down. That would mean submitting first to the agents in my A-list. But I can't escape the nagging feeling that, no matter how careful I am, there may be a bit of a learning curve for me. After I get a little experience sending out queries, I may figure out a way to make them a little better. So I wonder if I should start out by querying the B-list, and then save the A-list until I have slightly more querying experience.

If I got an offer of representation from an agent in the B-list, would it be all right to delay my response until I heard back from more A-list agents?

Any advice or thoughts would be welcome.

zenjenn
12-26-2013, 11:35 AM
I started with A list and now I wish I hadn't, because I'm always making improvements. Now I have queries out to agents I'd love to have, but I feel they have sub-par sample pages. Then again, from the statistics I've seen, getting an offer of representation from a highly-queried agent without a referral is like winning the lottery, so maybe it's better to burn those bridges now and offer my most improved-upon work to the agents most likely to respond.

I guess it depends in part on your behavior as an author. My style is that I carefully craft each query and consider each agent like a gawd-damned snowflake. I'm just a little OCD like that. And then with each rejection, I reexamine my sample chapters and make improvements.

It doesn't matter HOW polished my work is, I always feel the need to make an improvement after a rejection. A coping mechanism, perhaps?

However, if your style is to just highly polish and walk away, might as well query the big guns first. Who knows? Maybe it's your day for a lottery win!

Chris P
12-26-2013, 12:05 PM
I think you are shooting yourself in the foot if you approach your intial querying as practice for the "better" agents later on. First, what happens if a sub-par agent bites? Are you going to turn him or her down so you can query your A list? I suspect it will be too tempting to take the offer in the hand, and for me impatience has been my biggest mistake. On the flip side, if your query doesn't interest a B-list agent, you have no way of knowing when you are ready to start querying your A-list. How will you judge this progress?

I'm not telling you what to do, and I have failed utterly at getting an agent. This is just what I think about in my own querying.

zenjenn
12-26-2013, 12:35 PM
Well, for us new writers, I think snagging ANY agent that can get your manuscript in front of publishers is a win. And newer agents with a smaller client list may actually serve a new author better, be more responsive, more emotionally invested in you, etc.

Being OCD as I am, I often check agent twitter feeds, blogs, etc. It is clear to me that there are agents that, whether big names or not, possess a personality and attitude that I would enjoy working with MUCH moreso than others. Those are the ones I gravitate towards querying first.

All that said, I know nothing. Just sharing some thoughts. :D

cornflake
12-26-2013, 01:22 PM
Basically seconding what Chris said - why burn any agents if you can avoid it?

I wouldn't go in presuming you'll adjust, improve, etc. I'd work on the query hard before ever sending it out. If, with a decent number of agents, I wasn't getting a 20% or so request rate, I'd stop, pull it, and reconsider, because at that point you kind of have to, imo, but the perpetual tweaking thing I personally don't get.

zenjenn
12-26-2013, 03:08 PM
Well, I'm new at this, but when I see agents say they have gone through 40,000 queries in one year, I don't see how anyone can reasonably expect a 20% request rate? Unless like 95% of queries seriously SUCK.

Then again there are a lot of abysmal published books, so the whole industry confuses me a bit. I guess for this first novel I'm considering it a learning process.

Kerosene
12-26-2013, 03:32 PM
The only reason why I could see someone starting with their "b list" is if they're unsure that their work will interest their top agents, and want to test the waters. But, like Chris and Corn said, why risk losing possible bites to test it?

Why query agents without your best foot forward? Why doubt your work?
I see the preparation stage as the most important. Work as hard as you can on the book. Edit, revise, rewrite as much as possible. Get opinions (SYW section, alpha/beta reading). Build your craft and make your work into something agents have to bite at. Then, work your query like crazy in QLH so you don't have second thoughts on if it's good or not.
Only after all of that, when you have no doubt that your work will interest an agent or editor, query and submit to the tippy-top of your list first. Why? Because you want those agents/editors/publishers more, right? Then, work your way down. If you get offers from agents you don't want over those on top of the list, then you can alert the agents that you really want--who haven't gotten back to you--and that might push them a bit.

Putputt
12-26-2013, 03:53 PM
Mr. Putt knows a lot more about statistics and math and risk analysis and floopflarp. When I was querying, I told him I wanted to query in batches of ten. He then suggested that out of those ten, 3 to 4 of the agents should be from the A-list and the rest should be from the B-list (I only split the agents I found into two lists). That way, I wouldn't be burning through my A-list in case there was a problem with my query. It worked well for me. My A-list is shorter than my B-list, so by the end of the querying phase, I'd gone through every agent on the A-list and had about 5 agents left on the B-list.

Zenjenn - 20% is a reasonable expectation to have, especially if your query has gone through QLH. :) Before QLH, my success rate was a bit above 10%. After that, it was closer to 30%. I wouldn't be surprised if 95% of queries that agents receive don't make the cut. Many writers don't follow the guidelines, so a lot of queries get cut based on that alone.

zenjenn
12-26-2013, 04:14 PM
Hmm. This is very enlightening. I'm glad I joined this forum! :D

Chris P
12-26-2013, 05:07 PM
Zenjenn - 20% is a reasonable expectation to have, especially if your query has gone through QLH. :) Before QLH, my success rate was a bit above 10%. After that, it was closer to 30%. I wouldn't be surprised if 95% of queries that agents receive don't make the cut. Many writers don't follow the guidelines, so a lot of queries get cut based on that alone.

Are you serious? Wow, do I ever feel inadequate! My current query has gone through several rounds of QLH, and I would be thrilled beyond knowing if I had a 10% request rate. Wonder what I'm doing wrong? [okay, that's rhetorical, since I don't want to threadjack to OP]

zenjenn
12-26-2013, 05:21 PM
Just knowing that it is possible to get a 10-30% request rate is very useful. Unless Putputt has publication creds or referrals that are making him stand out (do you, Putputt?), that means that if the writing quality + marketability is there, you WILL requests from agents. That's very useful to know, and if it's true, that means if we're not getting any requests, something's wrong.

That's OK, this is a learning experience. And we're not surgeons; we can tear apart our babies and put them back together, or just create a whole new one. No harm done. If Putputt's information is valid, than a 100% rejection rate isn't noise, it's useful.

I know it's a bit of a hijack from the OP, but I would really love to hear others weigh in on this. I really just looked at the staggering numbers of queries agents go through and assumed there was a lottery aspect to it as well. And maybe there is? Learning!

WeaselFire
12-26-2013, 05:34 PM
You should always start with your least wanted agents, that way the top agents have more room for my material. :)

Seriously, if you don't have the confidence to submit to your A list yet, then you're not ready to query anyone.

Jeff

Putputt
12-26-2013, 05:40 PM
Are you serious? Wow, do I ever feel inadequate! My current query has gone through several rounds of QLH, and I would be thrilled beyond knowing if I had a 10% request rate. Wonder what I'm doing wrong? [okay, that's rhetorical, since I don't want to threadjack to OP]

It might be the genre and category? My book is YA fantasy, and I got a lot of comments along the lines of "I love that your MC is a fat girl who is having all these adventures!" so it might just be that. I've seen amaaazing queries on QLH that haven't received many bites because of the market, so it does depend on that too.


Just knowing that it is possible to get a 10-30% request rate is very useful. Unless Putputt has publication creds or referrals that are making him stand out (do you, Putputt?), that means that if the writing quality + marketability is there, you WILL requests from agents. That's very useful to know, and if it's true, that means if we're not getting any requests, something's wrong.

That's OK, this is a learning experience. And we're not surgeons; we can tear apart our babies and put them back together, or just create a whole new one. No harm done. If Putputt's information is valid, than a 100% rejection rate isn't noise, it's useful.

I know it's a bit of a hijack from the OP, but I would really love to hear others weigh in on this.

No publication credits or referrals. :) I wrote about my querying process here (http://jsutanto.wordpress.com/2013/12/01/my-second-ride-on-the-query-go-round/).

The quality of the writing does matter, but from what I've read on agents' blogs, it also depends a LOT on the market. For example: Kristin Nelson's post on what she rejected in Jan of this year (http://pubrants.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/what-ive-said-no-to-lately.html). Regardless of the market though, I think 100% rejection rate does mean it's time to rethink the query.

buz
12-26-2013, 06:01 PM
Well, I'm new at this, but when I see agents say they have gone through 40,000 queries in one year, I don't see how anyone can reasonably expect a 20% request rate? Unless like 95% of queries seriously SUCK.



They do.

Well, maybe not 95% exactly, but the majority of slush fiction queries are incoherent, or don't seem to have a plot, or have basic writing issues, or don't follow submissions guidelines, or aren't for a genre the agent represents, or are just "I wrote a book and it's a great book it will sell like Harry Potter and Hunger Games also I will await your eager interest okay byyyyeee" or have other blatant problems :)

Chris P
12-26-2013, 06:22 PM
It might be the genre and category? My book is YA fantasy, and I got a lot of comments along the lines of "I love that your MC is a fat girl who is having all these adventures!" so it might just be that. I've seen amaaazing queries on QLH that haven't received many bites because of the market, so it does depend on that too.

Whatta ya mean? Middle-age middle-class white dudes aren't hot sellers? :D


No publication credits or referrals. :) I wrote about my querying process here (http://jsutanto.wordpress.com/2013/12/01/my-second-ride-on-the-query-go-round/).

The quality of the writing does matter, but from what I've read on agents' blogs, it also depends a LOT on the market. For example: Kristin Nelson's post on what she rejected in Jan of this year (http://pubrants.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/what-ive-said-no-to-lately.html). Regardless of the market though, I think 100% rejection rate does mean it's time to rethink the query.Thanks for those links! You've helped kick my butt in gear.

Kerosene
12-26-2013, 06:45 PM
Well, maybe not 95% exactly, but the majority of slush fiction queries are incoherent, or don't seem to have a plot, or have basic writing issues, or don't follow submissions guidelines,

I've heard agents say about half of the queries they've received are for work they wouldn't represent. Like a SFF fiction agent receiving non-fic, thriller, contemporary romance, ect.

As we're on the subject: Slush Pile Hell. (http://slushpilehell.tumblr.com/)

GinJones
12-26-2013, 07:40 PM
FWIW, Agent Janet Reid answered a similar question here:

http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/2013/12/question-which-way-points-up.html

midazolam
12-26-2013, 07:46 PM
I definitely wouldn't start from the top down, ie. querying all your A-list agents first. I liked the suggestion of querying a mix of your A and B agents. Your response rate will give you a sense of how well your query is working.

Sure, you can do everything you possibly can to polish your query, but sometimes (and for reasons you may not understand or foresee), your query just isn't working for people. Or maybe it's your pages. But at least you can step back, revise, and try again - and some of your top agents will still be available to query, since you haven't burned the opportunity.

slhuang
12-26-2013, 07:51 PM
Well, I'm new at this, but when I see agents say they have gone through 40,000 queries in one year, I don't see how anyone can reasonably expect a 20% request rate?


I know it's a bit of a hijack from the OP, but I would really love to hear others weigh in on this. I really just looked at the staggering numbers of queries agents go through and assumed there was a lottery aspect to it as well. And maybe there is? Learning!The lottery aspect is why you get a 20% success rate on a kickass query and not a 100% success rate (and "lottery" in this case means different tastes, market sensibilities, and, yes, a little luck, but not as much as you'd think). Being a math nerd :), I've pointed this out to writers before who've had the same impression you do: your chances aren't 1 in 40,000, because it's not random. Agents aren't blindfolding themselves and pulling out of the mailbag to decide what to request; they're actually reading the queries. ;) So everything you do to improve your query, first pages, and full ms means you're increasing your odds, and if all of those do kick ass, you have a decent, non-lottery-esque chance at getting through the process.

(Note: As Putputt said, there ARE factors like market that can work against you, and there IS some luck involved. But you can improve your own odds tremendously.)

I also want to note that a query should be considered "successful" if it's getting you requests. I've seen other AWers point out before that the purpose of a query is to get requests and then it's up to the ms. So if you're getting rejected at the query stage, the problem is the QL and not (probably) the ms, but if you're getting rejected at the request stage, you have a successful QL but the ms needs work.


Just knowing that it is possible to get a 10-30% request rate is very useful. Unless Putputt has publication creds or referrals that are making him stand out (do you, Putputt?), that means that if the writing quality + marketability is there, you WILL requests from agents. That's very useful to know, and if it's true, that means if we're not getting any requests, something's wrong.

It's definitely true. :) Putputt's been very open about her query process here on AW, and I encourage you to read her blog post and to consider what she says to be quite well-informed. She's extremely well-researched and put a lot of time and hard work into doing the query process right. :D

And, to my knowledge, she did not have a sekrit handshake (DID YOU, PUTPUTT? YOU CAN TELL US! :D) or anything like that. When (when! Whenwhenwhen) she gets a contract, this novel will be her debut. And y'all should buy it the day it comes out because I was lucky enough to beta and it's excellent. :D

What were we talking about again? Oh, yeah. Queries!


If Putputt's information is valid, than a 100% rejection rate isn't noise, it's useful.Yup.

I strongly, strongly, strongly recommend to zenjenn and anyone else that y'all vet your QLs here before sending them out. And if you're still not getting requests after that, you can come back and brainstorm with the squirrels on a rewrite. (Oh, and if this is your first QL, the fastest way to learn is by critting other queries. *hands over QLH pamphlet* *yes this is a sales pitch* *or possibly an attempt to inculcate you into a new religion* *you know you waaaant to*)


Whatta ya mean? Middle-age middle-class white dudes aren't hot sellers? :D


Well, to be FAIR, they are. ;) *points to every action TV show ever made, all of which star 40-ish white guys* *points to every action thriller ever published except Alex Cross, all of which star 40-ish white guys* *points to almost every hard science fiction novel . . .* &c. :D

I'm just glad people are starting to look for other types of protagonists. :D

(By the way, why am I speaking semi-authoritatively about queries?! I'm self-publishing! I know nothing! SOMEONE COME ALONG AND CONTRADICT ME! Dear lord, AW makes me learn by osmosis. Well, that and hanging out in QLH. Why do I do that again?? Those people are insane! They're on crack! They BRAINWASHED me! Heeeeelp! "Dear Agent, I'm trapped in a place called Query Letter Hell and I don't want to leeeeeave send help . . .")

DahlELama
12-26-2013, 07:54 PM
Seriously, if you don't have the confidence to submit to your A list yet, then you're not ready to query anyone.


This. Which isn't to say that you should run out your entire A-list in one shot, but if you're already stepping out there under the assumption your work isn't good enough to land a top choice, then what's the point? All agents are not created equal; agents can't get your work read simply by virtue of calling themselves agents. If editors don't know them, they can simply ignore their calls or emails, or drop their stuff to the bottom of the pile. It's worth taking the time to find the right agent for your work and put your best foot forward with them.

I can kinda go on about this ad nauseam because it's the sort of thing I've blogged about a lot. Here are longer thoughts on that if you're interested: http://dailydahlia.wordpress.com/2013/06/26/querying-and-best-practices/

Thedrellum
12-26-2013, 08:10 PM
Also, remember that your query isn't going to "work" for every agent, as every agent has different interests and are looking for different things, even if they cover the same genre.

FWIW, I don't think you should query any agent that you're not interested in having represent you. It wastes the agent's time and your own and--re: my paragraph above--there's no guarantee that testing your query on your B- or C-list choices will give you any proof that your query will work for you top choices.

Of course all this comes from a person who took four years and four novels to get an agent, and made many mistakes along the way. But if you want an agent you'll actually be proud of, then when your query fails, write a new novel and start again.

Medievalist
12-26-2013, 08:22 PM
Always start at the top. BUT

Don't query until your ms. is ready.

Get betas.

Revise your query via QLH.

Putputt
12-26-2013, 08:30 PM
The lottery aspect is why you get a 20% success rate on a kickass query and not a 100% success rate (and "lottery" in this case means different tastes, market sensibilities, and, yes, a little luck, but not as much as you'd think). Being a math nerd :), I've pointed this out to writers before who've had the same impression you do: your chances aren't 1 in 40,000, because it's not random. Agents aren't blindfolding themselves and pulling out of the mailbag to decide what to request; they're actually reading the queries. ;) So everything you do to improve your query, first pages, and full ms means you're increasing your odds, and if all of those do kick ass, you have a decent, non-lottery-esque chance at getting through the process.

I want to cuddle the bolded part so hard. :D It's true, querying isn't random, which is why, even with 40,000 queries, your chances aren't going to 1/40,000.



It's definitely true. :) Putputt's been very open about her query process here on AW, and I encourage you to read her blog post and to consider what she says to be quite well-informed. She's extremely well-researched and put a lot of time and hard work into doing the query process right. :D

And, to my knowledge, she did not have a sekrit handshake (DID YOU, PUTPUTT? YOU CAN TELL US! :D) or anything like that. When (when! Whenwhenwhen) she gets a contract, this novel will be her debut. And y'all should buy it the day it comes out because I was lucky enough to beta and it's excellent. :D

Yew are too sweet! :Hug2: I'll give you your payment thru Paypal.

There's no sekrit handshake. I just attached a pic of sexy hippo bewbs to the query... (Okay, I didn't do that. Don't attach anything to the query. :D)



I strongly, strongly, strongly recommend to zenjenn and anyone else that y'all vet your QLs here before sending them out. And if you're still not getting requests after that, you can come back and brainstorm with the squirrels on a rewrite. (Oh, and if this is your first QL, the fastest way to learn is by critting other queries. *hands over QLH pamphlet* *yes this is a sales pitch* *or possibly an attempt to inculcate you into a new religion* *you know you waaaant to*)

Yep. I think pretty much everything there is to know about queries is on QLH or right here in Ask Agent. *hugs QLH super hard*



Well, to be FAIR, they are. ;) *points to every action TV show ever made, all of which star 40-ish white guys* *points to every action thriller ever published except Alex Cross, all of which star 40-ish white guys* *points to almost every hard science fiction novel . . .* &c. :D

I'm just glad people are starting to look for other types of protagonists. :D



That's a good point, but I wonder if the appeal of 40-ish white guys is as strong in books as it is in TV shows, or if there is a difference in the size of the targeted market? <---Did that sentence make ANY sense or is it obvious that I'm just farting through my mouth now?

*sinks back into the mud, waits for someone who actually understands market demographics to come in*

ETA:



FWIW, I don't think you should query any agent that you're not interested in having represent you. It wastes the agent's time and your own and--re: my paragraph above--there's no guarantee that testing your query on your B- or C-list choices will give you any proof that your query will work for you top choices.


I agree with this. All of the agents I queried are agents I would have been very happy to work with. The only difference between the agents on my A and B-lists was that the A-list agents were ones who blogged regularly, so I felt as though I "knew" them and would get along well with them. But the agents on both lists have solid sales records, and when the offers came in, I took my time considering each and every one of them. I actually culled a couple of A-list agents first because we didn't click the way I thought we would before culling a couple of B-list agents...so...yanno, so much for lists... :D

zenjenn
12-26-2013, 09:22 PM
<3 You rock!

Off to QLH! I missed that forum. This place is huge and overwhelming to noobs like me. :)

DoNoKharms
12-26-2013, 09:26 PM
I know it's a bit of a hijack from the OP, but I would really love to hear others weigh in on this. I really just looked at the staggering numbers of queries agents go through and assumed there was a lottery aspect to it as well. And maybe there is? Learning!

I think my experience showed both that it's very much not a lottery, but also that refining your query letter is ridiculously important.

The first iteration of my query had a request rate of 0% (out of 6). I took a breath, stopped sending, and put myself through the QLH grinder. The revised iteration had a request rate of 30% (out of 10), and got me two great offers. The crazy thing is, the versions weren't radically different: I didn't do a scrap-and-redo, I just improved the content and detail and honed the conflict. Personal grading-wise, I'd say I got it from a B+ to an A-. But you can see that even that level of revision had a really significant effect on my response rate.

Chris P
12-26-2013, 10:06 PM
Well, to be FAIR, they are. ;) *points to every action TV show ever made, all of which star 40-ish white guys* *points to every action thriller ever published except Alex Cross, all of which star 40-ish white guys* *points to almost every hard science fiction novel . . .* &c. :D


*thinks back to the last five movies I watched.* Point taken.

However, don't think "Casino Royale," think "Steel Magnolias with Middle-age Middle-class White Dudes with Insecurities" and you got my novel. Tom Perrotta's making that work for him (and his agent's already turned me down), so there is a market, just a small one it seems. Someday I'll pick a winnable fight! :)

Quickbread
12-27-2013, 04:41 AM
I think Putputt's approach of querying a mix of A and B agents is wise. It's good to save some As in case you want to revise your query, your sample pages, or even your entire manuscript. But I wouldn't even bother going past the Bs.

I'll also add that an agent you might think is an A agent (tons of sales, biggest author names, etc.) may not always be the best agent for a new writer to work with, and sometimes a B agent (fewer sales, less years of experience, etc.) could turn out to actually be a better long-term match. You can't really know from statistics and sales alone. So a mix is good.

I think the response rate you can expect depends entirely on what genre you write. I was getting about an 8-10% response rate on my literary novel query, which people here told me was a solid rate. But after I revamped my query in QLH, that went up to about 15%, which I was thrilled with. From everything I've read, anywhere around 12% is a great response for literary fiction.

ap123
12-27-2013, 05:05 AM
I'll also add that an agent you might think is an A agent (tons of sales, biggest author names, etc.) may not always be the best agent for a new writer to work with, and sometimes a B agent (fewer sales, less years of experience, etc.) could turn out to actually be a better long-term match. You can't really know from statistics and sales alone. So a mix is good.


I agree with Quickbread. Assuming the agents on all of your lists are reputable, the top "A" list agent for any given writer is the one who believes in your book and will work their hardest to sell it.

*I say this as someone who is as yet unagented, so grain of salt and all that.

CrastersBabies
12-27-2013, 06:21 AM
Well, I'm new at this, but when I see agents say they have gone through 40,000 queries in one year, I don't see how anyone can reasonably expect a 20% request rate? Unless like 95% of queries seriously SUCK.

Then again there are a lot of abysmal published books, so the whole industry confuses me a bit. I guess for this first novel I'm considering it a learning process.

The agents I've spoken with would attest to the fact that yes, 95% of queries suck. And they suck a lot. One agent I spoke with said that that 95% includes:

People who don't bother reading submission guidelines. This means people who don't read that some agents want a query letter, others want a query plus a synopsis, or the first thirty pages. This means people who send hand-written books directly to the agency in a box tied with a yellow ribbon. This means people who show up in person. This also means folks who don't see on the submission page that X agency doesn't take Thrillers or Horror and they send a thriller or a horror.

It includes people who do not proofread or spellcheck their query letters.

It includes people who don't know how to write a query letter. (Just google "bad query letters" for examples there.)

It includes people who overwrite on the word-count. By 100,000 words.

Once you've waded through all of these, I'd wager that saying 5% are left who have not made the above mistakes is a pretty solid estimation. I think that if you can simply follow the rules, you're already sling-shotting yourself into that 5% territory. And that's a pretty cool place to be.

But then you have to have a solid query with a story that captures the agent's attention. (And so on and so on.)

:)

Kevin Nelson
12-27-2013, 07:08 AM
Thanks to everyone who answered--I've definitely gotten some good information here.

My query has already been through QLH once, but maybe I'll send the revised version through as well.

tko
01-09-2014, 07:08 PM
Best agents first or last. I've thought about it, and either position has a good argument behind it. No way to make an intelligent choice.

So . . . drum roll . . . I've been doing it randomly. Groups of ten say, a random mix of agents, top to middle. Don't burn all your top agents at once. This way you get enough statistical feedback to know if your query is working, and have saved some agents for later if you have a brainstorm for a better query.

I don't believe you can ever submit your best query. No matter how hard you try, you can always come up with something better later on.

Ephiny0
01-11-2014, 03:56 PM
I am taking a semi-random approach as well. Apart from anything else, it can be difficult to know at the querying stage who's going to be the best agent for you. I've sent out a small batch of queries to a mix of agents, and will be asking for feedback in QLH if these don't go anywhere!

Aggy B.
01-12-2014, 12:59 AM
I made a list, starting with the folks I knew I was interested in. And I queried the ones I knew were at the top for my genre first (I think there were 10 I knew I wanted to query, plus another 10 or so that repped folks I liked and/or knew from online interaction) and then worked my way down.

While it's true that it sucks when you feel like maybe the query or the writing sample could have been better, it would be a really terrible thing to get an offer from an agent you were only kinda interested in and then feel like you couldn't accept because you wanted to see how the agents you really like, respond.

(That being said, you may also find other A's down the road.)

NicolaD
01-12-2014, 01:13 AM
Definitely only query who you'd genuinely like to work with. But the agent who your mate adores, may not suit you. The agent who seems so chirpy and fun on Twitter may not rep your genre or connect with your writing. You may want an agent that edits with you before submission and he/she doesn't. Everyone is different and has different needs and expectations. I've heard a lot of stories about same agent and people having totally different experiences - one says 'great communicator!' other says 'lousy!'.

But please, please remember this: AN agent is nothing compared to THE reputable, experienced agent who adores your work, communicates in the way you need and want and works tirelessly on your behalf. Sometimes you get THE agent the first time. Sometimes you don't. Sometimes it's right agent, wrong book and you win second time around. But you learn and dive back into the fray a little wiser and a little tougher. This is your career, don't be a schmuck.

Best of luck to everyone in the trenches. :)

GardeningMomma
01-13-2014, 07:12 AM
It might be the genre and category? My book is YA fantasy, and I got a lot of comments along the lines of "I love that your MC is a fat girl who is having all these adventures!" so it might just be that.
Ummmm... I love that, too. I'd love to read that.

/highjack

BethS
01-15-2014, 07:20 AM
The quality of the writing does matter, but from what I've read on agents' blogs, it also depends a LOT on the market. For example: Kristin Nelson's post on what she rejected in Jan of this year (http://pubrants.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/what-ive-said-no-to-lately.html). Regardless of the market though, I think 100% rejection rate does mean it's time to rethink the query.

Worth noting that Kristin Nelson has, by her own admission, become extremely choosy in what she represents. She passed on some good manuscripts, including one that already had an offer on the table from one of the Big 6.

So yeah--rejection can be for a lot of reasons.

Jennifer_Laughran
01-26-2014, 06:15 PM
Two things that have happened to me that I find TRULY MADDENING from an agent perspective:

* I love a book. I offer. I'm told, "I need a bit more time." No problem! A week passes, I haven't heard anything from the author, or perhaps yet another delay. Then an agent friend says to me, "So-and-so says he has an offer from you, he just queried me yesterday. What's up with that." -- In other words, the author decides AFTER I'VE OFFERED that they want to start querying MORE AGENTS. Arrrrrrghhhhhhh.

* I get a "query" that says, "I love you, you're my top choice agent, but the thing is, can you read this by Tuesday, I have an offer on the table already." -- In other words, the author has decided to go fishing for more offers, but then puts me (ostensibly their "first choice") in the position of having to rush, and drags everything out for offering agent too.

Both of these moves are SO insulting and a waste of agent time. Just please. Don't do that. Don't query people you would hate to get an offer from. Don't "save" all your top choices for last. Just don't. Mixing a combo of "A" and "B" in each round is a good idea.

andiwrite
02-04-2014, 03:32 AM
I'm glad I found this thread because I had a similar question at one point. I made the mistake of querying my top-choice agent when I was (unknowingly) totally unprepared. I had rewritten my query a few times and read some articles, but I really didn't know much about writing queries. I was rejected almost immediately.

After that, I put in my time in QLH and had some beta readers look over my novel. Yesterday I sent out a handful of queries again, and I feel a lot more prepared this time. But I still can't help but wonder if I have more to learn and if my query letter could be improved somehow.

I suppose it doesn't matter for me, though. Aside from that one agent who initially rejected me, I'm just submitting to anyone who accepts new-adult stories. I don't really have a preference.