1. bethklewis
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    bethklewis Member

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    Agent: Preliminary Contact?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by bethklewis, Mar 20, 2012.

    My manuscript is as polished as it's ever going to be so I'm ready to begin querying. I found an agent in a pretty big agency who would be a great fit. The agency itself accepts only submissions by post, and by email only if you know an agent personally. The agent I'm targetting says on her bio that she is open to preliminary contact by email. What does this mean? Does this mean a traditional query or just an introduction with a view to sending a full query/synopsis?
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i'm sure it means that you can send a standard query to her directly, even though the agency's overall policy may be slightly different on that issue...

    rule of thumb is to go by individual agents' submission guidelines whenever they differ from the agency's policy, since the agent is the one who will be reading your query, not 'the agency' which is not a person...
     
  3. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Phone the agency and ask.

    Is it a UK agent? If so a prelimminary contact is usually defined on other agents' websites as: no more than the covering letter/email and sometimes a short synopsis unlike the normal submissions package of covering letter, short synopsis and three/five chapters/50 pages.

    Personally, I'd make it an email containing a blurb asking if this is the sort of the thing she would consider representing and possibly your short author bio.
     
  4. NotMyRealName
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    NotMyRealName New Member

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    Check AgentQuery and Publisher's Marketplace. Agents often have more detailed submission information there than they have on agency websites.
     
  5. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Bear in mind that this is only my own interpretation of "preliminary contact", but I would send no more than a covering letter and a brief (one page) synopsis. I imagine the term is to differentiate from the standard submission package which other posters have already outlined.

    But have you checked the agency website itself thoroughly for any "official" definition?
     
  6. bethklewis
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    bethklewis Member

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    Thanks for your responses!

    The agency (UK based, definitely legit) website has very specific submission guidelines and nowhere does it say anything on their submissions page about preliminary contact. The only thing is says is that it doesn't accept email submissions unless you are already in correspondance or know an agent personally. The specific agent's own staff page says she is open to preliminary contact and gives her email address. No other directions. I've asked around and some people have said that I could submit via post/standard sub guidelines, then email that agent to say I have submitted something with the intention of her seeing it or I could just send a brief query in the 'is this something you are interested in' vein.

    I was wondering if anybody else had made initial contact with an agent before submitting and how they went about it.
     
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  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    since you have her email address, why aren't you asking her, instead of us?
     
  8. bethklewis
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    bethklewis Member

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    Because this is a forum for advice about publishing. I was asking if anybody has come across this before and had any advice on the subject.
     
  9. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Phoning the agency can be more effective than emailing, that way the answer is usually instant.
     
  10. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Instead of worrying about what it migth mean, why don't you just do as they say and submit via normal mail/paper copy since (at least it seems to me like) you don't actually know anyone there?
     
  11. bethklewis
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    bethklewis Member

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    Because it is the difference between going directly into a rather large slush pile or going directly to the most appropriate agent in the company after 'preliminary contact'.
     
  12. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    well, if you email her and ask you'll have your preliminary contact! ;)
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i still don't know why you'd waste all this time and energy waiting for answers no one here can give you about this agent, instead of emailing or calling her and asking her directly, as she's the only one who knows the answer...
     
  14. bethklewis
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    bethklewis Member

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    I don't think it's unreasonable to ask if anybody had contacted an agent independently of a formal submission procedure. If nobody has ever done this in the history of this website or the publishing industry then I apologise. But if you don't have any advice other than 'ask someone else' then why post something nasty and unhelpful?

    Also, a few forum posts don't exactly take a lot of energy or time...

    I've always considered this website a great resource and have been reading it for years which is why I wanted to ask if anybody had had a similar experience. Is that a problem? Is that not what this site is for?
     
  15. prettyprettyprettygood
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    prettyprettyprettygood Active Member

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    I expect the OP is asking here because she'd like to make a good first impression on the agent, rather than asking them a question that may well have an obvious answer that she just didn't know. Seems perfectly reasonable to me. Unfortunately though OP, I don't have an answer, but Banzai's suggestion strikes me as a sensible way forward :)
     
  16. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    It isn't unreasonable to assume on a site full of writers, some of whom are British that someone may have contacted the same agent. Especially as it appears to be a larger London agency.
     
  17. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i don't see any reply here that is at all 'nasty' or 'unhelpful'... we're all simply trying to be helpful in one way or another...
     
  18. bethklewis
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    bethklewis Member

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    Thank you PrettyGood and Elgaisma. I probably will send an amended version of my standard query. I've already had three requests for fulls but this particular agent is my ideal so finger's crossed!
     
  19. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    ooh everything crossed.
     
  20. bethklewis
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    bethklewis Member

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    So I slightly amended my standard query and sent it off to this agent, just the email, no attachments. An hour later I got a reply asking for the full manuscript. No synopsis, no sample chapters, the full manuscript! Very very excited and judging by her response, she is also very excited!

    Thanks for your help guys!
     
  21. prettyprettyprettygood
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    prettyprettyprettygood Active Member

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    That is fabulous, congratulations and I hope you get more good news before long!
     

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