1. markbriscoe
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    markbriscoe New Member

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    Contacting literary agents

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by markbriscoe, Aug 10, 2011.

    I am sure these issues have been covered (probably several times) on this forum before, but perhaps not all at the same time...

    A few basic questions:

    !st: I was looking at some video interviews with literary agents and publishers. It seems the most common practice for any writer who wants to be published is to go through a literary agent rather than direct to a publisher, correct?

    2nd: Is it, or is it not a good idea to approach literary agents via email? Mine is an illustrated children's book of around 1600 words that can be read in about ten minutes. Also I can email jpg's of some of the illustrations. so for me email is VERY convenient… Also I live in Spain so sending manuscripts by regular post to the UK and/or the USA is going to be expensive, and knowing me I would probably give up after two rejections

    3rd: Is it a bad idea to email lots of agents at one time? If you have to wait several weeks for any of them to reply, then doing it one at a time could be very boring.

    Thank you
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    1. Yes, it's fairly common, especially because an agent can help speed up the publishing process, look over contracts for you, maybe even negotiate a larger advance.

    2. Sending a query by email should be fine, but after that it depends on the agent's guidelines.

    3. Yes, you can query multiple agents, though I wouldn't query multiple agents in the same agency.
     
  3. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    I agree completely with third wind. But would emphasise very, very strongly, pay attention to what the literary agent says he wants to see as a submission. If he won't accept e-mails, you may have to print and snail mail. If he will accept e-mails, chances are he'll want your book in PDF.

    Cheers.
     
  4. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    For #1, not only is it common practice, I believe about 90% of publishers won't accept it any other way anymore.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...that's what seasoned writers do... and is the best route to take with fiction... for some non-fiction, going directly to publishers can work, but it's still best to have an agent do the contract negotiation... once you have an offer from a publisher, you may be more attractive to agents...

    ...approach them in whatever way they want to be approached!... check each one's guidelines and submit accordingly... however, you should know that most us publishers of picture books won't accept artwork from unknown illustrators and prefer to assign their own... it may be different in the uk... as for the cost of submitting work, that's simply part of the job of being a writer... a business expense one must learn to deal with... however, if only submitting such a short text ms, the cost will be minimal... not more than for a longish letter...

    ...you can and should query as many as you want at the same time, but submissions are a different thing altogether... you must pay attention to each agent/publisher's guidelines and if they say 'no simultaneous submissions' then you can't submit to anyone else until they accept or reject your submission...
     
  6. markbriscoe
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    markbriscoe New Member

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    Thanks for so many responses. As always there is a lot of very useful knowledge and advice being given here. To email or not to email... I just went to <agent site>. Their email submission policy is as follows: "Unsolicited e-mail cover letters or submissions may not be responded to." "may" They look like they are in the inevitable transition period but are still a bit unsure.

    It wouldn't surprise me if a lot of agencies only except snail mail queries simply because it shows that the sender is really serious about their work.

    I am looking at a few agencies for childrens books. Naturally there are loads of results on google. It would really help at this stage for some recommendations. I am completely new to this game so I don't know any reputable names in the field. (this question will divert somewhat from the main thread of the thread.. Perhaps I should put it out as a new thread or can someone post a link to another thread that asks this question?)

    Thanks again
     
  7. Jessica_312
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    Jessica_312 Contributing Member

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    try the site "agentquery.com", it's a search engine that provides agent info (genres accepted, whether email/snail mail queries are accepted or preferred, their websites/contact info, etc). It's been a very useful site to me so far.
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Or it is wishful thinking on your part.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i doubt anyone is going to recommend a specific agent/agency... you'll have to do the work yourself, like all of us do... but i'll be glad to pass on several listing sites if you email me...

    however, be aware that there's so little money to be made by repping an unknown new writer's lone picture book ms that most agents won't take it on... which is why it's a good idea to try querying publishers directly...

    love and hugs, m
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Absolutely correct. Any such recommendations will be promptly removed.
     
  11. markbriscoe
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    markbriscoe New Member

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    Thanks again for all the responses. Mammamia you have sort of turned everything upside-down here (in the most positive sense)... So you are saying that I should really focus on publishers, not agents. Though I guess it is better if you CAN, to go with an agent. but it's just more difficult!?

    Thanks for putting your email I will be in touch
     
  12. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've been submitting via email to some agencies. They seem to tell you how they want it and all I can say is to do it that way. Whatever people tell you here about how they'll probably want it seems like guesswork to me. Just give them what they want and see what happens. That's what I'm doing at least.
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...if all you have is one pb text to offer, then yes, it's bound to be more difficult to find an agent willing to take it on than if you go directly to pb publishers who'll accept unagented queries/submissions...

    ...that doesn't mean you shouldn't try a few agents who say they'll take on new writers of pb's, but just that you'll most likely have less success finding one that'll request the ms, than you will finding a publisher willing to read it...
     

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