1. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Agents, Agents Everywhere, and yet...

    Discussion in 'Publisher Discussion' started by Sack-a-Doo!, Feb 13, 2016.

    I keep seeing threads (and messages) on here about how people put together long lists of agents to query, but after doing a search on AgentyQuery.com and paring down the results, I've only got three.

    I think I know what the problem is, but I'm not sure where to go from here.

    I write humorous science fiction a la Harry Harrison, Robert Asprin, Douglas Adams, John Scalzi, Andy Weir and Christopher Moore. What I searched for were agents who deal with both and that's a pretty short list (only 15 in the whole database). And most of the authors who wrote in this sub-genre (if it can be called that) are dead or retired.

    But if I query agents who handle science fiction, there's no guarantee they'll be open to humorous science fiction.

    And also, if I query those who deal in humour... vice versa.

    I certainly don't want to make a nuisance of myself, but I'd rather have a longer list. And thoughts on where to proceed from here would be most welcome.
     
  2. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Have you googled to find out who represents(represented?) the authors you think your work resembles? Like, Ethan Ellenberg represents John Scalzi, so I'd definitely suggest you sub to Ethan Ellenberg. etc.
     
  3. terobi
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    terobi Contributing Member

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    True enough - but isn't that the point of a query? You ask them if they're interested in that area, and they'll tell you whether they are or not so you can make a proper submission?
     
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  4. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I agree with @terobi. My first query took me FOREVER to press send but now it takes me about 10 minutes to get everything together and tailor it slightly. What's the worst that can happen? Answer: you get a form rejection, or a no-response. If they list sci-fi, they're hardly going to write back a tirade of abuse at you that they don't do HUMOROUS sci-fi for heaven's sake.

    Plus, with The Martian being so huge at the moment, if your query has something like "may appeal to readers of Andy Weir..." that's only going to work in your favour.

    Also check out #MSWL on twitter. I was only paying attention to the romance ones, but I'm pretty certain I saw at least one agent mention humorous sci-fi, and plenty of them mentioned sci-fi in some form.

    The best way to get an agent is to query as many agents as you can. Just because they sound perfect for you doesn't mean you're perfect for them, so if you restrict yourself to three your chances reduce from like 0.05% to 0.0000005%. (I don't do maths by the way)
     
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  5. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thank you both for the input, @terobi and @Tenderiser .

    I'm a total noob to Twitter and to be honest, I'm a bit embarrassed that after being a real computer geek for over 30 years, I just don't understand how to interact with it. I mean, it makes no sense to me at all.

    I did a search for #MSWL and found the... feed (is that the right word) and even saw one entry (or whatever it's called) that looked promising, but...

    I hover over the poster's ID and... am I supposed to click on it? How do I click through to start a conversation? Or am I supposed to find that person's feed somehow and click through to their agency's website?

    I started on Usenet, email and eboards, moved to the Internet and eventually Facebook, but I'm totally lost on Twitter. (sigh)
     
  6. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I'm a Twitter novice, too. :)

    You might want to try searching "#MSWL sci-fi OR sci fi OR #SF" with whatever combinations you like to narrow down the feed to posts that mention your genre. I've been searching "#MSWL romance OR #romance OR r OR #R OR #CR [contemporary romance]" etc. to make sure I don't miss a Tweet.

    When you find a promising looking tweet, click on the Tweeter's name to get to their profile. Nearly all (probably all) agents will have their agency website listed under their picture. If not, you can google their name to find their agency. Have a look at their recent Tweets too, as some of them have written things like "If we're a #MSWL match, put #MSWL in the subject line of your query".

    I've been putting #MSWL Query as the subject whether they asked for it or not, and staring the query by saying "I saw you want X and I have it" (obviously phrased better!). It might not get you out of the slush pile but at least it starts off the pitch on a good note, by saying you've been doing your research.

    If you get stuck, let us know what Tweet you're looking at and me/someone else will help find how you can submit.
     
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  7. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks ever so much, @Tenderiser. It still sounds like gobbledygook, but then, so did machine language the first time I looked at it. :)

    I'll give these things a try.
     
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  8. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    You're talking about the subject line in an email message, right?
     
  9. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yup, I started by finding out who rep'ed other authors in my sub-genre. I've got Ellenberg on my list along with Andy Weir's and Chistopher Moore's agents.

    There just aren't that many people writing humorous science fiction these days... Come to think of it, there never have been many. I'm only aware of seven in the entire history of science fiction and that's going all the way back to Mark Twain.
     
  10. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Having no real experience with this, I assumed that queries were more about the particular story rather than a sub-genre. But assumptions aside... :)
     
  11. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Yup!

    I just realised I misread @terobi's post. A query is not the place to ask if an agent accepts a certain genre. If it doesn't say on their site, you just send a query like you would everyone else and hope. With some agencies you can contact them to ask if you can submit, but that tends to annoy them since it takes just as long to read a query and say "no" as it does to read a question and say "no".
     
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  12. terobi
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    terobi Contributing Member

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    Naturally I'm not suggesting the OP spam all agents with the question about whether they accept a certain genre - but writing a query letter to an agent specialising in SF asking if they're interested in your humorous sci-fi story is surely not going to make much difference; either they'll want it or they won't.
     
  13. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Mm, but you ask by sending a query, not by sending an email saying "can I send you my query?"
     
  14. terobi
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    terobi Contributing Member

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    Which is what I said. Or, what I meant, anyway. I thought that was fairly clear?
     
  15. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    No, not clear, because you said "You ask them if they're interested in that area," as if you would literally write and say "do you accept humorous sci-fi".

    But it's clear now :)
     
  16. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    I actually did this with a publisher last year, asked if he was open to the sub-genre. He wasn't as upset by that as he was by me asking if "word count" meant "estimate based on number of pages" or "MS Word statistic."

    If I end up querying him again, I hope he's forgotten me by now. :)
     
  17. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    What was his answer for the word count thing?
     
  18. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    He told me to quote MS Word's word count statistic verbatim.

    I guess estimates are passé now that we have software to count for us. :)
     
  19. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Good to hear. I only even heard about the 250 x pages rule a few days ago and thought "WTF, why are these people saying to use an estimate when we have actuals at the click of a button?" but it was a discussion from 2010.
     
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  20. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yup, old school word counts seems to be very much alive in some publishing houses. Makes no sense to me, but there it is.
     
  21. terobi
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    terobi Contributing Member

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    I can't imagine anyone's overly concerned with EXACT wordcounts down to the word - looking around, it seems most people are happy with you just rounding to the nearest thousand words or so (for a novel anyway - short stories are presumably much more strict), which makes sense, since it gives them a rough idea of how long the manuscript is, but the exact figure is bound to change in the editing process.
     
  22. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    From what I've been reading, the estimates differ from actuals by 5-10k words depending on font and paper size (I did it with mine, just for fun, and it was 6k). 10k could make the difference between a debut author's query being rejected outright or being given a chance.

    I suppose we can use that to our advantage - quote whichever number looks better on paper and if challenged, say "ah well I did the word count this way..."
     
  23. terobi
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    terobi Contributing Member

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    True, but most examples I see seem to be of the format "~80,000 words" - so if it's 92,482 words exactly, I don't think anyone would quibble about you describing it as "about 92,000" words, surely?
     
  24. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Nope, I'm with you there. Either round up to the nearest 1k or 5k. I'm just thinking out loud about a way to use the two different methods to our advantage :)
     
  25. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    The publisher I exchanged email with was pretty adamant about exact word count. If you look on this page under Query/Cover Letter, you'll find they've stressed exact word count.

    Of course, this publisher may be an exception. It's the first time I've ever seen this.
     

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