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  1. Monteriggioni

    Monteriggioni Member

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    What do agents expect?

    Discussion in 'Publisher Discussion' started by Monteriggioni, Nov 5, 2017.

    I'm going simply by logic here, but if an agent is open to queries from the general public, he would have to understand that he's extremely unlikely to get manuscripts that are written by the next Shakespeare. He wouldn't expect top notch literary skills, as much as he would a great concept.

    I'm not saying that all you need is a good story and that even trash writing would be fine, obviously, but is it fair to say, that since an agent knows that any publication deal he lands for his client would necessarily involve professional editing before the book is released, that he wouldn't automatically throw your MS to the trash just because, despite a great story, your writing style could use some work? (emphasis on the word "some")
     
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  2. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    This is true, but they do expect it to be edited and proofread to within an inch of it's life because coming across lazy mistakes or brutally large plot holes is just unprofessional for someone trying to be a professional writer. Agents also aren't editors, though generally if they think your book is salable, they can point you to someone who can fix these problems. Their job is to sell a book, the more problems with your manuscript, the more time and energy it will take from them to make the (generally small) amount of money they'll get from selling it. For them, getting a book that's ready to print would be ideal. A manuscript they like with minor errors could get a "fix this and we have a deal" letter. Bigger errors could get you a letter that says something like, "we like it, but... so we're going to pass at this time." If there are too many problems or it's just not the right agent, you'll probably just get a form letter.
     
  3. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I'm just about positive that he would expect top notch literary skills AND a great concept.
     
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  4. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    which is about the minimum for a book most of us would finish reading.
     
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  5. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    I'm rereading the book I submitted to agents. I've messaged maybe 20 and not gotten a hit back. I thought the book was polished but I've just cut another 500 words from the first 90 pages.

    Every page I have a "wtf did I write" moment. It's embarrassing.
     
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  6. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    It's a buyer's market, and editing is expensive. If a publisher has its pick of, say, fifty books that all have a great story, the publisher is going to pick the one that will require the least editing and therefore the least expense.

    That's the book agents want to represent.
     
  7. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Has the Vocabulary of a Well-Educated Sailor. Supporter Contributor

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    You're forgetting the massive amounts of competition for that agent's attention. If you were an agent who had a huge slush pile sitting in front of you, and a ton more in your email box, which would you be prouder to pitch to your bosses: something ready to fill the next publishing slot, or something that needed a lot of rounds of edits? Remember, depending on the size of the agency, an agent has to pitch you to the people who actually have signing power.
     
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  8. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    Nice theory, but it doesn't work like that in practice. Good agents will get 250-300 queries a week, so they can choose the cream of the crop. Why would they represent a manuscript they have to spend hours editing, and then try to sell to a publisher as "not very well-written but hey, it has a good concept!" when they can represent one that needs minor tweaks and is well-written AND interesting?
     
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  9. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    If you sent an agent a query letter and they actually request manuscript from you, I think it would be fair to say that they've already bought into your concept and think you've got the potential for a good story. Now, if your manuscript was rubbish, your query letter probably wouldn't be much better, so I'd say chances are slim you'd get a request. If your query was immaculate, but your manuscript was rubbish, they'd probably think something was a bit hinkey and probably get mad at you for wasting their time. Not only that, but if you got a request, why would you even send them something you hadn't polished to the best of your abilities? It doesn't really make sense. Especially considering most agents I've submitted to ask you to send the first few pages with the query.
     
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