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flowerburgers
01-20-2016, 06:18 PM
Hi! I'm clueless about the business end of creative writing and I was hoping you folks could offer some advice...yesterday I was contacted by an agent from Union Literary, who read a story of mine in the Adroit Journal and is interested in reading some chapters from my novel. Obviously I said YES, but I'm worried because the novel is still in a formative stage--I've been at it for only six months. How polished will she expect these excerpts to be? Is it appropriate to ask for a few weeks before sending the chapters (I was going to ask for six)? What are the chances that she'll actually want to represent me from a few early excerpts--in this kind of scenario are they just looking for voice more so than a polished chapter? It was so out of the blue...I'd never given any thoughts to agents because the novel isn't close to done! I'll add that everyone to whom I've shared this news has told me to be wary, which is throwing me off even more...Union Literary looks legit to me, but, as I said, I know nothing about this. Anyway, thanks for reading, looking forward to hearing back.

Kerosene
01-20-2016, 06:37 PM
This is one of those things I'd have to read the email to fully understand.

Generally, this is more to inform you that there's interest and when you get around to publishing, after the book has been edited and finalized, you have someone already primed and ready. Like them handing you their business card. They should be near the top of your list when you start querying. I wouldn't suggest sending unfinished work, or parts of unfinished work, because that can either ruin your chances as you're sending off less than perfect work or creating an odd working relationship. Getting an agent isn't about grabbing the first one that pops up, but working through a list of agents you'd like to work with a choosing someone you believe can work well with. If, let's say, you send them a few chapters and they would like to represent you, if you follow my suggestion to seek other offers, then you'd have to tell them to put the rep. on hold until you've both finished with your work (as you should really only query completed fiction) and until you have run the gambit of other agents. Which can take anywhere from days to years, all that time they're just waiting. Finish the novel, and when you go to query, query them with the note saying something like, "You contacted me prior about..." to remind them.

flowerburgers
01-20-2016, 06:40 PM
Hi Will,

Thanks so much, this clears a lot up! She said that she'd like to read some pages if I'm "currently seeking representation or plan to in the future"--does that mean she might be interested in looking at some work-in-progress?

Richard White
01-20-2016, 06:41 PM
Just an FYI, here's a thread on them (taken from the Index)

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?259010-Agency-Union-Literary

Cyia
01-20-2016, 06:41 PM
In general, if you get this sort of contact:

1st, check out the agent and the agency to make sure they're legit, then:

If your book IS ready to go, then send chapters as requested.

If your book IS NOT ready to go, then thank the agent for their interest and let them know that you don't currently have a project ready for them to read. As you don't want to present anything other than your best work, assure them that you're getting the book in readable shape, and then promise to send chapters when it's ready to go. Once the book is done and you're ready to query, send those chapters as a reply to the original email the agent sent you and query everyone else on your list.


does that mean she might be interested in looking at some work-in-progress?

NO. Do NOT send in-progress work. Finish it. Polish it. Then send it.

Richard White
01-20-2016, 06:44 PM
As Will said, don't send her anything not ready for public consumption - first impressions and all that.

What I would suggest is drop her a note stating you have something under development and as soon as it's ready to go out, you'll be sure to send her something. That way, you let her know you're reciprocating her interest (if indeed you are), and that you yourself recognize your story isn't quite ready yet. That shows professionalism.



Hi Will,

Thanks so much, this clears a lot up! She said that she'd like to read some pages if I'm "currently seeking representation or plan to in the future"--does that mean she might be interested in looking at some work-in-progress?

Kerosene
01-20-2016, 06:45 PM
Hi Will,

Thanks so much, this clears a lot up! She said that she'd like to read some pages if I'm "currently seeking representation or plan to in the future"--does that mean she might be interested in looking at some work-in-progress?

You caught me mid-edit, but it's like I've said. Pretty much they're saying if you're querying agents, query them. But you should be finished with your work to start the querying process, so wait off.

flowerburgers
01-20-2016, 07:04 PM
Thank you all for the barrage of wisdom!!! I made the mistake of responding to her before checking in with anyone--I was so excited!--so I wanted to add onto the email... here's the first (the one I sent) and the follow-up. Do you guys think the latter is all right to send? How much did I blunder with the first?

Hi Trena,

Thanks so much for being in touch--I really can't express how excited I was to receive this email! I'd love to share some chapters. I should let you know that the novel is still in a formative stage--I've been working on it for about six months--but I do have material that I think is strong. Would you mind if I took some time to polish things up and decide what to send you? Let me know how much you'd like to read, and if you want any more information about my plans for the book. Looking forward to hearing back from you!

Best,
Sara


An addition: I just talked to a few writer friends and I may have been preemptive in my last email--I'm very new to the business side of creative writing, so bear with me! The advice I was given was to hold off on sharing excerpts until the draft is finished--so should I hold onto your contact information and be in touch in the future? It could be a while--I'm in my second semester of a three-year MFA program and l and plan to complete this novel as my thesis--but I'm thrilled by your interest and can definitely keep in touch. Let me know.

Best,
Sara

flowerburgers
01-20-2016, 07:08 PM
Also: I'm sending out excerpts right now. If those get published, is it acceptable to contact her and share them? Really starting to question why I didn't take "Business of Creative Writing" as an undergrad...

Richard White
01-20-2016, 07:19 PM
Sara,

I'm finishing my Masters of English soon (pesky thesis) and one of the classes I'm trying to design to teach as an adjunct is "The Business of Writing" - how to do queries, where to sell various types of literature, other things writers can do besides write books (tech writing for one - my day job), etc. I think it's damn near criminal that colleges teach creative writing and then just throw the students out the door with no practical advice other than "go write."

Then again, I got turned down for an MFA program because I write "genre fiction". When I checked after the fact, I found out I had more "professional" credits than the MFA faculty combined. They were really great at writing for academic magazines and journals, but hadn't ever sold a short story or a novel anywhere. I really wonder what that MFA would have done for me - maybe getting rejected was dodging a bullet instead. *shrug*

Best of luck with your degree though!

Kerosene
01-20-2016, 07:28 PM
I'd wait off on shooting them an email until they've gotten back to you. Not to see what they'd say, but to just not make things confusing. Then you reply with, "I've decided to wait until I finish writing and editing the novel. You'll be one of the first agents I query when I start." No need to ask them if you contact them later--that was the point of their original email.