1. Myrrdoch

    Myrrdoch Active Member

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    A couple of general questions from a new author

    Discussion in 'Publisher Discussion' started by Myrrdoch, May 20, 2017.

    First question - How done is "done" for the purposes of queries? I'm at around 97,000 (it's sci-fi, so I'm okay) words on my main WIP right now, and I'd like to start sending out feelers, but a lot of what I've read suggests that you need to be flat done, pens down, turn your paper in done. Is this entirely accurate, or do agents understand that as writers we will keep tweaking and adding stuff literally forever if we're allowed to?

    Second question - Is a query the appropriate place to mention other stuff you are working on? I mean, I'm looking for someone to represent me and my work over the course of a hopefully prolific career, I'm not trying to sell one book. So, while I NEED an agent to accomplish my goals, at the same time I feel like I'm looking for a symbiotic relationship with the agent. I want someone that wants to represent me as an author, not necessarily this one single work.

    Thanks in advance for any advice!
     
  2. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin The game sour like a pickle be.... Contributor

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    Hello and welcome @Myrrdoch

    Short answer to question 1 is yes, your manuscript should be completed, pens down, etc. While it's not unheard of for agents to sign clients based on sample chapters of an incomplete work it is very rare and damn near impossible for unpublished writers. While agents understand that there will be further editing conducted by their people in concert with the writer they have no interest in anything that is not already completed to the best of the writer's ability. Of course, it will likely take you months to hear back from an agent, so you have some lead time to fix up what needs fixing, assuming that any sample chapters are already shipshape.

    Short answer to the second question is no, agents could care less about anything else you're working on, who you are (sans publishing credits or life experience relevant to expertise in non-fiction), or what you plan to do in the future. It is implied that somebody who writes a book is capable of writing other books. And if they like your submission they will assume you will be capable of writing other likeable, marketable submissions. The "symbiotic relationship" is already understood. Agents are professionals looking for other professionals who understand the business, so mentioning that might scream "amateur" to the wrong agent.

    There are always exceptions but that's the general way of things. The best thing to bear in mind when dealing with agents/editors/publishers is that your book is a product, similar in nature to anything else that is traded on an open market. The author is incidental until she herself becomes a marketable product.
     
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  3. Myrrdoch

    Myrrdoch Active Member

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    Cool, thanks for the help.
     
  4. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Contributor Contributor

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    Myrrdoch,

    I will add to what Homer Potvin said.

    Most agents (and publishers) are interested in representing (and publishing) authors that are more than one novel in them types. But that is often a conversation that occurs after the first hurdle, when the agent (and/or publisher) is interested in your initial work. It might be a simple question along the lines of: What are you currently working on?"

    Really, after you've finished your first novel and have sent it off to find representation and a publisher, you'll want to begin working on your next novel. The first one may or may not find an agent/publisher, and if it does, the process rarely is an overnight operation.

    Good luck and press on to get that first novel finished and moving forward toward publication.
     
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  5. Myrrdoch

    Myrrdoch Active Member

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    Thanks! This reminds me of another question I had. When sending queries, is it best to send as many to as many agents as possible, or do it one at a time? It seems, given the general waiting time, that the former is accepted practice.
     
  6. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I don't know, but it seems to me that one issue with sending as many as possible all at once is that if you learn something from the first few, it's too late to apply that knowledge to the next few.
     
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  7. Myrrdoch

    Myrrdoch Active Member

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    Ugh. Good point. This is gonna take a while, isn't it?
     
  8. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I sent mine out in batches of about ten at a time. Waited a few weeks, sent out another batch. I tried to be sure each batch had a "dream" agent in it but also some lesser-knowns.

    And, yes, I think it's pretty common to tweak the query between batches. It helped me to think in terms of:

    - the query's job is to get the agent to read the pages; the pages' job is to get the agent to request the full;
    - the full's job is to get the agent to make a phone call to me;
    - the phone call's job is to let both of us see if we want to work together.
     
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  9. Myrrdoch

    Myrrdoch Active Member

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    This thread has been full of valuable advice. Thanks for all of the help, y'all!
     
  10. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    Agree with @BayView, more is better. The typical agent receives hundreds of queries per month, and will select less than a dozen per YEAR to push. For the agent, that is the time-consuming part. As a result, part of their reason for rejecting you may have nothing to do with the quality of your work... most will simply have too many projects they have already agreed to push, to accept another. Assuming your submission is squeaky perfect, and the samples exquisite, you are still facing enormous odds, literally thousands to one, to find an agent with the bandwidth to handle your product.

    Ten per week or so is a good goal, with the main focus being on tailoring each query to each agent, which requires a lot of research. What agents deal with your genre? On their websites, what do they specifically look for? What works have they gotten published that are similar to yours? And, most importantly, what are their submission guidelines? Adhere to them assiduously, including, if they so state, what the e-mail subject line should be. I recommend querytracker.org as a good free resource to locate agents and their agencies.

    If you don't want to get form e-mails in response, don't send the agents one.
     
  11. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I think sending out a batch every week might be a bit too quick - it wouldn't give you much time to get responses to the earlier queries and then adapt your letter if needed.
     

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