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usuallycountingbats
10-19-2015, 06:19 PM
So Joanne Harris (author of Chocolat fame) said today on Twitter that you shouldn't query more than one UK agent at a time. Is this true? I'd always assumed that you query multiple agents no matter where you are - bit like applying for a job!

https://twitter.com/Joannechocolat/status/656078910430576641

Toothpaste
10-19-2015, 07:45 PM
I don't know what it's like today, but 10 years ago I queried multiple agents at a time in the UK. So . . . I mean . . . I guess I'd say, look for more sources than just one person's tweet before making your decision on this.

waylander
10-19-2015, 07:57 PM
I respectfully disagree with Ms Harris.
If, however, she means don't send the same e-mail query to multiple agents (so that they can see the address line has multiple recipients) then I'm with her.

Jamesaritchie
10-19-2015, 08:07 PM
I wouldn't query more than three or four agents at once, whatever the rules. People talk about querying a hundred or more agents, but no genre has that many really good agents, or anywhere close to it. Most genres have no more than two dozen top of the line agents.

You need the best agent you can possibly get, and you can burn through the good ones in a hurry with multiple submissions. All at once, in fact. If your query is poor, you may use up the top agents before one even looks at your novel. There is no second chance with most of them.

The best way to speed things up is to slow down and make sure you get it right.

The_Ink_Goddess
10-19-2015, 09:23 PM
I agree with Toothpaste..I queried a book 1 year and 1/2 years ago (! I can't believe it's been that long!) and I queried a bunch of agents, both in the US and the UK. The only agent that told me they couldn't accept it was a US one with form in that area...


I wouldn't query more than three or four agents at once, whatever the rules. People talk about querying a hundred or more agents, but no genre has that many really good agents, or anywhere close to it. Most genres have no more than two dozen top of the line agents.

I disagree-ish. Honestly, YA has a really impressive raft of top agents. You can't query them all at once, no, because you have to factor in the multiple great agents at top agencies.


The best way to speed things up is to slow down and make sure you get it right.

This, however, is true. If you ask me, this is the one really good reason to wait, but it's an important one. Try to be calm. Get feedback. Don't shoot it off to every agent in the UK (there are fewer anyway) on an off chance.

Also, pfft, how far behind are these mythical UK agents to whom Ms. Harris refers? I really hate this, because I think it panders to a damaging view of agents - namely, that writers aren't important to them and they have a lot of dumb and arbitrary rules - which may have been true in the 1960s and 70s. It matters that you get a good agent. Good agents want to have good writers. They don't operate like some kind of intensely cliquey secret society (though...to the lurking agents on AW: if you do, hit me up, I'm looking for an internship :tongue) that are constantly talking about you. This smells of majorly outdated advice, and I'm writing such a long post because I'm pissed that Joanne Harris is woking on (IMO) really old advice and shipping it around to aspiring writer friends like it's new. More UK agents have form responses than U.S. ones, but, nowadays, many of them still don't respond. No way is any agent worth their salt going to expect you to wait anywhere between 2-5 months for a no, a maybe, or a no-answer in this day and age, if you ask me.

There are good reasons to wait to query or to be slower. This is true. But "word gets around" (what? that you're doing something so audacious and shopping your product to multiple agents? y'know, in case one of them says no?) is totally untrue unless it's in the case of bad behaviour. Then you can bet every agent within a 1,000-mile radius has heard of you.

usuallycountingbats
10-19-2015, 10:24 PM
Don't get me wrong - I'm an interested observer rather than on the point of querying anything to anyone. I was just interested because this doesn't tally with anything else I've read anywhere, then I realised most of the stuff I've read has been US-centric. So, I wondered if it was true or not.

Laurasaurus
10-19-2015, 11:31 PM
I think she meant don't CC them all in one go - the same exact email to all of them, not personalised or carefully targeted at all. A lot of agents say they hate that.

But the general rule is certainly to query multiple agents at the same time, for sure. Same in the UK as the US as far as I know.

Of course if she did mean don't query more than one agent at a time, then I would have to respectfully say that I think she's totally wrong in this case. I doubt she's had to query anyone in decades and maybe isn't quite up on what's currently normal in that area. :)

usuallycountingbats
10-20-2015, 12:41 AM
I think she meant don't CC them all in one go - the same exact email to all of them, not personalised or carefully targeted at all. A lot of agents say they hate that.

But the general rule is certainly to query multiple agents at the same time, for sure. Same in the UK as the US as far as I know.

Of course if she did mean don't query more than one agent at a time, then I would have to respectfully say that I think she's totally wrong in this case. I doubt she's had to query anyone in decades and maybe isn't quite up on what's currently normal in that area. :)

See I thought that initially too - the round robin thing made it sound like that, and it makes sense. But then you read the thread and she starts talking about not wasting agents time on something which has already been signed - which implies she actually meant query one agent at a time. Which is precisely the opposite of what I've heard from pretty much everywhere else.

Laurasaurus
10-20-2015, 04:39 AM
How strange!
I normally like a lot of what she tweets. But definitely not this.

I agree with you that it goes against what I hear from everyone else (UK agents included).

If you only queried one agent at a time, and waited to hear back before moving on to the next one, it could take years to query one book!

waylander
10-20-2015, 12:47 PM
If you only queried one agent at a time, and waited to hear back before moving on to the next one, it could take years to query one book!

Years? Decades!

whiporee
10-23-2015, 07:38 PM
The agents are the ones who have created this mass query philosophy because so many of them take so long to respond, and so many have a no response means no philosophy. If you're only querying one at a time, how long are you supposed to wait? Some agents say they have months of backlogged queries -- do you wait eight weeks, two months, whatever, for each of them to respond? Given the pace that many of them answer queries, you could barely go through one a month. And that's assuming they respond at all, which many don't.

I'm not suggesting they are wrong to act this way -- they get swamped with queries. It's just the nature of the beast right now. But I do think it's wrong that any suggest that writers should limit their search for any reason. All that says to writers is that the agent doesn't consider the query or the partial or the full worthy of being a priority, and that's not a good start to any working relationship.