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View Full Version : Is it seen as poor form to query/submit to many agents and pub's?



GigiF
06-09-2015, 06:19 PM
I thought it was accepted that authors were meant to send their MS's to as many agents and publishers as they could to see who is interested? I'm concerned I've misunderstood and was meant to send to one at a time??

If that's so, are we meant to wait months to potentially not get a reply before sending it to each agent/pub? That doesn't sound right.

Advice needed.

Thanks.
:)

Marian Perera
06-09-2015, 06:27 PM
I thought it was accepted that authors were meant to send their MS's to as many agents and publishers as they could to see who is interested? I'm concerned I've misunderstood and was meant to send to one at a time??

Do you mean sending out queries, or sending out manuscripts?

I wouldn't send unsolicited manuscripts to a publisher unless their guidelines mention that they take unsolicited manuscripts. I wouldn't send unsolicited manuscripts to agents ever.

Queries are different, but if you're hoping to get representation, you might want to avoid sending queries to both agents *and* publishers. Just query agents first. Many writers send query letters to agents in batches, e.g. 5 - 10 queries every week. Yes, if you send out one query letter at a time and wait to get a response before sending out another, you could be waiting forever.

Aggy B.
06-09-2015, 06:36 PM
Sending out to many agents is not frowned on at all. However, you really shouldn't be sending out queries to pubs and agents (most publishers will NOT reconsider a manuscript they have already passed on, so if you sign with an agent and have already got a "No thanks" from a bunch of pubs you are limiting his/her ability to submit your manuscript).

You should make sure that each query is sent individually though. Don't CC or BCC a bunch of agents at once because that is considered poor form. (Much like addressing a query "To whom it may concern" or "Dear Agent" instead of using the agent's last name.)

It's also recommended to send out in batches of 5-10 because that gives you the opportunity to fix any flaws/errors in the query before you send to all the agents on your list.

Best of luck! :)

mayqueen
06-09-2015, 06:39 PM
Ditto what's been said. Don't query agents and publishers at the same time, for the reason Aggy B mentioned. Agents know you are querying widely, so it's fine and quite frankly the smart thing to do to send out a lot of queries.*

*By a lot, I mean query responsibly. I do batches of 5 or so every few weeks. That allows me to gauge how effective my query is. I also make sure each letter is personalized, even if all I can do is get the agent's name and email correct.

heza
06-09-2015, 06:42 PM
It's true that you should query agents first if you're hoping to get representation. Agents are unable to query publishers that you've already been turned down by, so it severely limits their strategy when trying to shop your MS (ETA: Like everyone else has said). The general order I've seen people go in has been Agents > Big publishers who take unsolicited MSes > Small publishers > Self publish. It's not as easy to go in the other direction. You can always self publish something an agent has turned down, for example, but it's harder to get agent interest in something you've already self published unless it did very well.

Almost all agencies I've seen understand that a writer will be querying multiple agents simultaneously. I've seen a few request "exclusivity," which means they want to be the only ones considering the MS. In those cases, you don't have to grant an exclusive, but if you do, you set a firm time limit on the exclusivity (usually 1-2 weeks is what I've seen).

I've seen some publishers, especially magazines, want exclusive submissions. I think some of them might hit the ground running with a submission they've decided to accept and don't want to wait for the writer to decide between them and a competitor, or something, or have to back out of the work they've put into it. I don't submit to magazines, so I'm not entirely sure of the reason.

GigiF
06-09-2015, 06:42 PM
Do you mean sending out queries, or sending out manuscripts?

I wouldn't send unsolicited manuscripts to a publisher unless their guidelines mention that they take unsolicited manuscripts. I wouldn't send unsolicited manuscripts to agents ever.



Can you explain this further please? I've sent out MS's to one agent and one publisher so far. Both said to do so as part of their submission guidelines.

I've also sent the first three chapters to a second publisher - again, as part of their sub guidelines.

None were solicited.

Have I messed up??

Edit: Sorry - the agent was a synopsis only.

GigiF
06-09-2015, 06:44 PM
Ah. Ok. So I've made a bit of mistake - I should be querying only to agents. Ok, I'll stop sending to pub's as of now. (I've only sent to 2 so far).

:)

heza
06-09-2015, 06:54 PM
Ah. Ok. So I've made a bit of mistake - I should be querying only to agents. Ok, I'll stop sending to pub's as of now. (I've only sent to 2 so far).

:)

Keep in mind that there are small publishers you can, technically, query at the same time. Agents make their money on commission. If the publisher you're going to sign with doesn't offer an advance (or much of one), it's really not worth the agent's time to handle your book. They won't make any money off of it. Agents like to deal with bigger fish. So if you know that you want to sign with a certain publisher and it's very unlikely this is a publisher an agent would pursue, you're probably okay to submit to that particular publisher while you query agents.

But I feel like there are basically two reasons not to query publishers at the same time as agents: 1) Like everyone said, every bridge you burn with a publisher closes a door for your eventual agent with this manuscript, 2) If you pursue smaller publishers at the same time as agents, you might be tempted to sign with a small publisher when an agent could have gotten you a deal with a bigger publisher.

Myrealana
06-09-2015, 06:54 PM
Can you explain this further please? I've sent out MS's to one agent and one publisher so far. Both said to do so as part of their submission guidelines.
If it's what they asked for, then you're fine.

Few agents or publishers are going to want your whole MS right away, but if they've asked for it, then you're doing it right.

heza
06-09-2015, 06:56 PM
Can you explain this further please? I've sent out MS's to one agent and one publisher so far. Both said to do so as part of their submission guidelines.

I've also sent the first three chapters to a second publisher - again, as part of their sub guidelines.

None were solicited.

Have I messed up??

Edit: Sorry - the agent was a synopsis only.

This has probably been cleared up for you already, but just in case there's still any confusion...

Some publishers are open to unsolicited manuscripts. By this, they mean that writers can send them queries according to their submission guidelines. Most large publishers only work with agents, so in order to send them your MS, you have to have an agent contact them.

Unless an agent is "closed to queries" (which is something they generally list on their submission guidelines if they are), unsolicited queries (which means you email them out of the blue) are the norm.

There's a difference between "querying" an agent or publishers with pieces of your MS and sending your entire MS to them. Different agents and publishers have different submission guidelines. Some want an query and the first ten pages of your MS as a sample. Some want a query and a synopsis. Some want a query and the first three chapters. But rarely (unless you've found one) will an agent or publishers want your entire MS unless they've asked for it.

The process usually works in some combination of: You query the agent according to their guidelines, they either send a rejection or request a partial sample of your MS, they send a rejection on that or ask for the full MS, and then they reject that or offer representation... or somewhere in there, they ask you to revise and resubmit. But it's bad form to send your entire manuscript unless you've been asked for it.

popgun62
06-10-2015, 12:02 AM
I thought it was accepted that authors were meant to send their MS's to as many agents and publishers as they could to see who is interested? I'm concerned I've misunderstood and was meant to send to one at a time??

If that's so, are we meant to wait months to potentially not get a reply before sending it to each agent/pub? That doesn't sound right.

Advice needed.

Thanks.
:)

When I sent out queries, I was sending ten at a time, sometimes ten per day. My queries consisted of boilerplate letters catered to each specific agent, according to their specific guidelines. When I was getting toward the end of my list, around 85 or 90 rejections, I started querying publishers, as well. I eventually hooked publishers for all of my books. Five years later, I hooked an agent. Send out as many as you can as often as you can. If you get more than one offer, so much the better for you. If an agent or publisher that you really like asks for an exclusive, give it to them. Otherwise, send those puppies out as fast as you can, otherwise you'll be old and gray before you ever get an offer. Use any feedback you get to make your query and/or manuscript better, and then send it out again. Just believe in yourself and don't give up - you'll get there.

If you want to see the story about how I landed my agent, you can check it out at Querytracker: https://querytracker.net/success/toby_tate.php

GigiF
06-10-2015, 04:01 PM
Just wanted to thank you all for the replies. Always helpful. :)

Jamesaritchie
06-10-2015, 09:04 PM
I wouldn't send to very many agents at once. If you do this, and you have a poor query, you just burned through most of the best agents. Whenever possible, send the first three to five pages of your manuscript along with the query. Good first pages can save a poor query.

Too many writers think all agents are created equal, and it just isn't true. Agents come in all levels of competency, just like writers. You do not want to burn through the good agents and have to settle for one who's second or third rate. Query only a handful at a time, change your query if you get no results, and be patient.