PDA

View Full Version : Querying a new agent when your former agent didn't manage to sell the manuscript



btalgo
09-18-2016, 04:34 PM
I was recently informed by my UK literary agent that he had now struck out on all the major UK publishing houses and was therefore giving up on trying to market my manuscript. I have decided to try to get either an American or Canadian agent to see if I have better luck in the US or Canada (by the way, I live in Norway, but write in English). I was wondering what I should tell prospective new agents when querying them. Is admitting that you had an agent who didnít manage to sell your manuscript part of the query letter?

Iím assuming that since my former agent didnít manage to sell the manuscript in the UK, there is no use in trying to get another UK agent.

mrsmig
09-18-2016, 04:42 PM
I don't really have an answer for you (I'll let more experienced AWers step in), but I did want want to say that first and foremost, ask your former agent for a list of the places/people he pitched your novel. You will need that information so any subsequent agent doesn't waste time pitching where the m/s was already rejected.

moonwatch178
09-18-2016, 05:02 PM
Well, this is a loaded question.

I was recently informed by my UK literary agent that he had now struck out on all the major UK publishing houses and was therefore giving up on trying to market my manuscript.
Unless you advised your agent to only submit to major UK publishers, this makes it seem like he might not be in this with you for the long haul. It's not clear if you've parted ways with UK agent. It sounds like you may want to. That's a decision you'll have to make. But the thing is, if you haven't parted ways,(or if you haven't gotten his blessing to go a hunting for US agents) and you start shopping around, it may hurt you in the process.

There are so many variables at play. I certainly have some basic questions, and the biggest thing is communication.
Have you talked to your agent? Does your agent work with a foreign rights person in agency? Does he have a U.S. counterpart he works with regularly? Have you discussed going to US publishers with him? Has he gone to those people?

In any case:
You'll want the submission list that includes the names of the editors submitted to as well as publishers.
Yes, you notify agents in query that your MS isn't shiny new MS and that you are formerly (or currently represented)
And then you start writing something new.

btalgo
09-18-2016, 05:05 PM
Thanks for the tip.
But would I need to supply such a list to a US or Canadian agent? They wouldn’t submit the m/s to a UK publisher would they? Or do agents submit to publishers in other countries? I’m a bit new to this business.

btalgo
09-18-2016, 05:11 PM
Thanks, Moonwatch. We have parted ways; he cancelled our contract. He queried all the major UK publishers and spoke with some of the smaller ones as well. He used a foreign rights agency to query Scandinavia (the story takes place in Norway), but has not had any contact with the US or Canada.

moonwatch178
09-18-2016, 05:20 PM
Even if they don't originally sub to UK publishers, they'll probably want to know who's seen your MS. It may seem like an overabundance of caution, but you'll want that list on hand if US agent asks to see it.

Captcha
09-18-2016, 05:23 PM
I'd skip Canada... not that many publishers here and many of those that are here favour Canadian writers. The US is probably the way to go. So get that list from your UK agent and see where your MS was submitted, and hope it didn't get sent to the US.

btalgo
09-18-2016, 05:26 PM
Get list from former agent now added to my to-do list :yesway:

btalgo
09-18-2016, 05:35 PM
My co-writer is from British Columbia (Nelson), and part of the story takes place in Newfoundland. We’re hoping that will give us some Canadian cred.

Putputt
09-18-2016, 05:36 PM
Definitely get the list of editors your ex-agent subbed to. When you query the book out, say, "I was represented by X Agency in the UK. The MS was submitted to editors in the UK but did not receive any offers. It was never shopped in the US."

I was in the reverse position (US agent shopped it and then I queried UK agents) and most of the UK agents I queried did not seem to mind the fact that it was shopped in the US.

EMaree
09-18-2016, 05:40 PM
Btalgo, have you checked your agency on the Bewares section here? While UK agents have a focus on UK publishers, it's far from their only job. Reputable UK agencies always* have an impressive team of foreign rights co-agents, and most of them regularly attend foreign rights fairs (Frankfurt Book Fair, London Book Fair) so the focus on UK rights only feels very unusual. Foreign territories are a big part of a British writer's (and agent's) income.

(*Yep, always. I can't think of a single reputable UK agency that doesn't have foreign rights co-agents, financially it's just not feasible.)

You mentioned you're not familiar with the business, which is absolutely fine and normal for a new writer, but the scenario you're describing doesn't feel right.


Thanks for the tip.
But would I need to supply such a list to a US or Canadian agent? They wouldn’t submit the m/s to a UK publisher would they? Or do agents submit to publishers in other countries? I’m a bit new to this business.

Regarding re-querying this project, you're definitely going to have to declare your previous representation when querying. And you'll need to provide a list of submitted publishers to any agents who'd want to take the project on.

Also, make sure you're working on new manuscripts. Querying an already-represented manuscript to new agents is usually very difficult, you don't want to pin all your hopes on this project.

EDIT: Putputt is super experienced here, listen to the hippo's wisdom, she is wise.

btalgo
09-18-2016, 11:12 PM
Thanks for the input Putputt and EMarre. Our former agent runs a small agency in London, and he is definitely reputable. He has always said that he would be querying the UK market. Otherwise, he has kept us up-to-date on each publishing house and the replies he has received from them as they came in.

All of them are UK publishers, but several are international, such as HarperCollins and Random House. I’m now wondering if an acquisitions editor in Random House UK declines a m/s, does that mean it’s dead in Random House US as well?

He does work with a foreign rights co-agent (also reputable), but with us they have only been involved in the rights to non-English speaking countries (Scandinavia). Neither the US nor Canada has ever been mentioned.

whiporee
09-20-2016, 12:58 AM
Okay, here's the bad news. I think you're done with this book. I think this is the book your agent for your next book says you have ready to go, but in terms fo finding rep for this one, it's going to be almost impossible. The market has been tested, and the market passed.

I'm sorry. it sucks. I'm there, too, so I'm not just spouting meanness. Assuming he really did query people, then you've got a book that everyone has passed on. I don't think another agent is going to want to take on a book that's already been passed on by the major houses in your area. There's no real reason for an agent to pick up the project and do the work of putting together lists and cover letters for a project that seems to be dead.

But to answer your specific question, yes, you MUST tell an agent you're querying that the book has been repped and submitted and passed on. it would not be fair to any or them to take on this project to any degree -- even as little as reading the full -- without knowing all the facts about its history.

I'm sorry. That sucks. I feel your pain, but I think your options now are to look at self-pubbing, or get drunk and start on the next book.

Putputt
09-20-2016, 01:35 AM
All of them are UK publishers, but several are international, such as HarperCollins and Random House. I’m now wondering if an acquisitions editor in Random House UK declines a m/s, does that mean it’s dead in Random House US as well?


No, it doesn't, which is why you need to know the exact editor he subbed to at Random House etc.


Okay, here's the bad news. I think you're done with this book. I think this is the book your agent for your next book says you have ready to go, but in terms fo finding rep for this one, it's going to be almost impossible. The market has been tested, and the market passed.

I'm sorry. it sucks. I'm there, too, so I'm not just spouting meanness. Assuming he really did query people, then you've got a book that everyone has passed on. I don't think another agent is going to want to take on a book that's already been passed on by the major houses in your area. There's no real reason for an agent to pick up the project and do the work of putting together lists and cover letters for a project that seems to be dead.

But to answer your specific question, yes, you MUST tell an agent you're querying that the book has been repped and submitted and passed on. it would not be fair to any or them to take on this project to any degree -- even as little as reading the full -- without knowing all the facts about its history.

I'm sorry. That sucks. I feel your pain, but I think your options now are to look at self-pubbing, or get drunk and start on the next book.

Ehh, in my personal experience that wasn't the case. I even queried my already-shopped MS in the same country it was subbed in and I managed to get quite a few bites despite being upfront about it having been shopped. So I wouldn't give up on it just yet. It might make your query's success rate significantly lower, but I wouldn't say it's completely dead in the water.