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Zeno Agency (John Parker, John Berlyne)

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ronempress

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Yeah, mine's alternative history/fantasy, too, but I figure they've got that on their docket (Aliette de Bodard) and Peter V. Brett is alt history/alt future. LOL It's not THAT far off.
 

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BTW, when you submitted, did they have an autoresponder tell you they received it? I'm paranoid because I know many agents haven't received my queries and Zeno's never open for long.
 

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Received a personal, kind rejection from Mr. Berlyne. He explained that my query was one of the best he'd seen (a huge relief, considering how hard I've worked to write it), but he didn't feel the market was good for my novel right now. Sadly, I know there are huge markets that would devour the book - whether or not it was any good and it is. I guess what he's saying is, it's hard to convince the publishers of that. Sigh.
 

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I just emailed them a query for an epic science-fantasy mms. I've been hesitant about submitting anything to a UK agency (I live in the US), but most stateside agents seem only interested in urban fantasy. Zeno has a stellar fantasy client list, and a great quote about the current UF tropes on their website.

The agency website says they'll at least respond eight or so weeks after the query, so they're already better than three of the U.S. agents I've tried.

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Hi, Filigree. John Berlyne got back with me in under a week, which is pretty darned amazing and he gave me priceless feedback, to boot. That feedback + the hope that another UK agent I've subbed - John Jarrold - will prove more interested keep me hoping right now. I've about concluded I will have to find an agent in Europe, China or Australia as the agents here just aren't familiar with the huge popularity of my source material.

Best of luck! I suspect you'll be a very fortunate person if Zeno wants a look. Mr. Berlyne impressed me.
 

waylander

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Mr Jarrold is a minor god, but a very busy and single-handed one. He may time a long time to reply (and you may need to remind him)
 

ronempress

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Yeah, I know, but thanks for the reminder! I've also tried to sub to him before and had my queries lost in internet-land. I think they were blocked due to the links to my website, etc. That's happened twice with him, but they were blessings. My queries have improved a LOT and the novel has changed enough, I'm glad he didn't get the first one. :)
 

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That's my situation, too. I thought I'd finished the mms and started querying last year. The queries sucked, my mms had to go through massive workshopping and revisions, and now I'm starting over -- and regretting the
agents that I now can't re-query. Alas, I discovered AW too late.

I'd be awestruck to just get some feedback from Zeno, at this point.

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Quick turnaround on my query, from December 6 through 8, from John Berlyne.
Rejection, but a personalized and polite one. Their submissions window is extremely specific right now, and my entry didn't meet their needs.

I'll definitely keep Zeno in mind for future submissions, especially if I have a harder-edged epic fantasy.

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ronempress

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I'm sorry to hear we're in such similar straights. :( I raise my hot mint chocolate to you in commiseration. Good luck with Mr. Jarrold!

BTW, I've seen on several agent blogs recently that if you've done "massive revisions," it is acceptable to ask agents to reconsider. However, they can't have given you reasons like John did. i.e. It doesn't meet their needs. If it didn't then, it's unlikely to, now. However, if it was an even more noncommittal rejection, I'd say go for it and good luck. Heck, maybe they saw potential, but too much work required and you've now done that work...
 

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I'm not going to quote the rejection precisely, but I got the impression that Zeno's paying very close attention to industry needs they've learned about during the World Fantasy Convention and a recent NY trip.

That could mean either the market for epic, hard fantasy has picked up and they're making solid deals in that area. (Since that's what their website wishlist still says.) Or it might mean that the current UF trends are influencing even Zeno's planning. (Sad, but understandable.)

The market's tight enough right now that I can't blame them for being ultra picky. They've got great writers and a strong rep, so I'll send any relevant
projects their way in the future.

And now for Jarrold.

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ronempress

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Yeah, just make sure you get your comparisons right. Even if it means a movie comparison rather than a book comparison. You only get one shot. If I could do it different, I'd use "Braveheart" meets "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon". It better portrays my story's topic, setting and style, and it also conveys the earnings potential I honestly see. That's for the next query. ;D Sigh.

Good luck! See you on the John Jarrold Forum. :D BTW, I like your avatar. What is that? It looks like a ship, but I'm not sure...
 

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I never really considered trying to pitch my mms as a movie combo. I've heard too much advice warning against it. I'll have to ask my beta readers if they have any ideas.

My avatar is a silver filigree ship I made a few years ago, this image Photoshopped from the larger Renaissance-style pendant.

I'll see you over on Jarrold's forum, though I'm holding off querying him yet.

Filigree
 

ronempress

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Yeah, I've shied away from doing the movie combo thing up until now. Mostly because I THOUGHT I had the perfect comparison. I am doing so more research on that... we'll see.

Love the pendant!
 

Anne Lyle

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Hugs to the rejectees - I feel almost guilty posting here!

I queried Zeno and got a request for partial within 90 minutes. Sent the partial and after about a week, got a request for full (in a roundabout way) - he says he likes my writing enough to want to see more :eek:

I think it definitely helped that I have an "in" with one publisher already, but also that my fantasy has a hard edge to it - it's more about the seamy underbelly of Elizabethan London than the glitter of court life. He's asked me to get back to him when I've finished the revisions I'm doing for the publisher...

EDIT: the movie comparison thing varies from agent to agent. Some absolutely hate it, others love it. Also, bear in mind when querying UK agents that we as a nation are suspicious of the "hard sell", so a query letter that works in the US may not be appropriate in the UK. Keep it short and sweet, with a punchy precis of your book. FWIW, here's mine:

The Alchemist of Souls is an alternate history fantasy set in Elizabethan London. Out-of-work swordsman Maliverny Catlyn has been plucked from obscurity to guard the ambassador of Vinland, who will be judging a drama contest between London's leading theatre companies. The ambassador is no human, however, but a skrayling: one of a race of mystical creatures who have allied themselves with the English to defend the Native Americans from the Spanish conquistadors. What neither Mal nor his employers know is that the skraylings have a secret agenda in Europe, and a very personal interest in Mal and his twin brother that could cost one or both young men their lives - and their souls.
Apart from that, all I included was a couple of short paragraph about my contacts with an author who had recommended Zeno to me and the publisher who had requested the full, plus the usual salutations.
 
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profen4

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Congrats, Anne, that's wonderful news! I hope you get an acceptance just as fast! Keep us posted, please. Do you mind if I ask how long the partial he requested was? It's just a curiosity on my part.
 

Anne Lyle

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Congrats, Anne, that's wonderful news! I hope you get an acceptance just as fast! Keep us posted, please. Do you mind if I ask how long the partial he requested was? It's just a curiosity on my part.

Thanks! JB asked for 50 pages plus a short synopsis, as described on their submission guidelines, plus some idea of how a second and third book might pan out. By lucky chance my first three chapters came to around 50 pages, give or take, so that's what I sent.
 
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Filigree

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Kudos, Anne. Don't ever feel guilty about posting good news in a thread. It helps keep the rest of us sane. And the query you posted works on me, because I want to see the book already! I hope Zeno and JB can make it happen for you.

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Anne Lyle

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Thanks, all! Hmm, sanity - can't say I've seen that in a long time :)

Obviously it'll be a while before I have any news - I have to finish revising the ms for the publisher and send it out (hopefully January), then I guess it'll take them a while to read it and get back to me. In the meantime I need to work on a sequel in case they want one* - it took me 4 years to nail the first book, so I'd better get my skates on!


* If this ms doesn't sell straight away, I have another project on the backburner - a good excuse to do NaNoWriMo next year!
 

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In the meantime I need to work on a sequel in case they want one*

They probably will. Anecdotal note - I met John Berlyne in April (I managed to pitch to him without completely losing it to nerves and he asked for a partial. Quick getting back too, and gave me nice feedback). He said that 'at the moment, series sell best' or 'Pubs only want series' or something along those lines (hey, it was April, I was nervous!) Sadly my MS was not his kind of thing.


BTW he is extremely impressive in person. Very incisive.

Anyway, good luck.
 

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