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  1. Turniphead

    Turniphead Member

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    Why only apply to 8 agents at a time? :)

    Discussion in 'Publisher Discussion' started by Turniphead, May 24, 2017.

    Firstly, thanks so much for the support on the other thread!

    I'm confused about this 8 agents at a time thing - I agree that if you send to 8 you may get some feedback - but even that is only an opinion. Assessing writing is so subjective. When I mentioned this subject on other forums someone said:

    'I'd send to ten then re-write' - why?

    So the agents didn't like it - those ten that is. I'd only send out my submission when it's as perfect as I can make it. I've spent months re-writing and am happy with it.

    I've also spent six years learning the cover letter and synopsis; so I feel pretty confident in that area. Regarding the prose section, I've polished it so much I can see my reflection in it.
    And there's a danger I might over-edit and end up making the book worse after applying to so few agents ...

    For a science fiction submission:

    Agent 1: your submission goes to spam.

    Agent 2: spilt his coffee on your covering letter, and bins it coz he has a 100 more to read.

    Agent 3: heard the night before he reads your submission that his wife has been unfaithful.

    Agent 4: is exhausted after reading 200 submissions, she barely looks at yours.

    Agent 5: has forgotten to remove from her web-site that she reps science fiction.

    Agent 6: has just take on two science fiction submissions. And doesn't get back to you.

    Agent 7: is thinking of leaving the agency, but hasn't told the boss yet.

    Agent 8: has had insomnia, and is speed reading covering letters, exhausted.


    Some, or a few of the above will happen. So if you apply to only 8 or 9, you're actually applying to less. And then you wait for two-four months for a few agents to get back to you. And obv a lot don't. Then you apply to another 8 and wait another 2-4 months. At that rate, It'll take years to get a balanced response.

    I believe in perfecting and polishing the whole submission. But now I'm stuck as it seems everyone applies to a small number , from 8-10 - I'm up to 12 and have received a request for a full and long kind letter from Curtis Brown wishing me well with my writing; it wasn't an auto-reject as I've had them before. I also sent my synopsis and covering letter to an agent that takes very few unsolicited
    submissions and she asked for the first three chapters.


    - I'm aching to get going and apply to more agents as it's a possibility the agent that asked for the full MS might reject it.

    I would say apply to a hundred, and if you do get feedback along the way, then use it. You can't run out of agents: there's two hundred alone on the Writers and Artists here and overseas.

    So I'm really confused about this. And I'm worried I'd be doing the wrong thing by continuing to apply.

    Any advice welcomed.

    Hope this post didn't have a ranty tone to it.

    And thanks again for giving me so much support on the agent that requested the full!

    All the things mentioned in my other thread hardened my confidence, and made me more determined. Thank you for that :)


    TYVM

    Turniphead
     
  2. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    I'm not sure where eight comes from - obviously any number is arbitrary, but I usually see 10.

    A good query will get about a 10% request rate. If you send your query to 10 agents and all of them reject, your query letter probably isn't doing its job. So you change it, try another 10, and see if you get any bites. If you send your query to 65 and don't get a single bite that's it - you've worked through all the reputable agents in your genre.

    Personally I started with a few agents and once I got my first couple of requests I sent them out whenever I couldn't take the inbox-crickets.
     
  3. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    There may be 200 agents listed but there probably aren't 200 agents you really want to work with, so it is possible to run out of agents.

    That said, if you've gotten a good response to your first batch, your query's probably fine.

    But what if you get some valuable feedback from one of the early batches of agents about some other aspect of your submission, up to and including the full? My impression is that agents are more likely to give at least a bit of feedback if they've gone to the trouble of requesting a full, so you could get some really useful information about the marketability of your book, something you could act on... but it will take some time. Why not give yourself that time?

    Of course, if you have the same attitude about the book that you have about the query, that it's perfect as it is and you won't be making any changes, then, sure, send all your queries at once. If you're absolutely not going to make changes, there's no advantage to sending queries in batches.

    But if you're willing to make changes, it's important to give yourself time to do so.

    ETA: And I also have never heard of sending to eight at a time. But ten? Ten makes sense to me.
     
    Truespur, TWErvin2 and jannert like this.
  4. Turniphead

    Turniphead Member

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    Is there a big difference between 8 and 10? I just don't think that's enough potential targets; for reasons made in my OP, there's a million reasons you could get rejected, and most have nothing to do with your MS. In my experience, you get very little feedback from agents, and even if they do, they might be mistaken in their opinion of your work: an agent isn't going to spend more than 30 seconds, even on a polite no thanks email.

    You're not going to learn a lot, if anything, from 10 agents, as very few will give you feedback even when asked. But you're going to spend 2-4 months waiting to send your next batch. So that's a full year almost for just 10 inquiries. If thirty sent me auto-rejections, I may think again.

    TY

    Turniphead

    What are crickets in the inbox lol.
     
  5. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    As I said above... if you send to 10 (or 11 or 12 or 13 if you like a different arbitrary number) and get no requests, your query probably isn't working. Many things are out of your control but the query IS within your control.

    Perfectly good queries do get rejected, obviously, but only about 90% of the time. You want to be getting rejections on the MS itself, not the 250-word pitch.

    Do you really not see the difference between being rejected by 65 agents on a version of your query, and being rejected by 10 with 55 still to try? (Again, arbitrary numbers.)
     
  6. Turniphead

    Turniphead Member

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    @Not a Man - where did you get the 10% number from? - I doubt that out of every 10 submissions you'd expect at least 1 to aks for a full MS. You maybe right about the 10% - what's your source for 10% (it might help me be more patient)

    Thanks for the input though.

    I received 2 requests for fulls in my first 10 submissions: and a long kind rej from Curtis Brown. So I haven't had 12 auto-rejections: should I keep submitting now, or wait till the fulls get back to me (which could take 2-3 months)?

    I'm talking about UK submissions where 3 chapters or 50 pages have to be attached - does that change anything? I'd agree with 12 U.S queries being rejected you'd need to re-think.

    Turnip
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2017
  7. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    Not a full - most requests start with a partial.

    The 10% can be found all over the place. For example, check out QueryTracker's stats.

    It sounds like you're not willing to listen to advice and are going to do what you think makes sense, so I would just crack on and hope you luck out.
     
  8. Turniphead

    Turniphead Member

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    That's not it at all, I just want to make the right decision.
    12 queries in the US is different than UK submissions.

    There's no partial in the UK unless you include the first 3 chapters, which you don't need to include for the U.S query letters.

    I just think this thing is so subjective.

    Thanks for all the feedback though. I've taken everything on board: does the 10% figure apply to just U.S query letters or the more substantial sub, UK agents are looking for?

    TYVM

    Turip
     
  9. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    If you get as far as someone requesting your full, and then they reject, I think there's a very good chance that they're rejecting because of your MS. They've already expressed interest in the general idea, so most of the "million" other reasons for rejection are probably gone. What reasons are you thinking would remain?

    But I agree with @Tenderiser - this is your journey, so take the path that makes sense to you. I'm only still posting because other people might come along and read this while figuring things out for themselves.
     
  10. Turniphead

    Turniphead Member

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    I could wait for the Full to come back. Maybe I have no patience; actually I'm wrong: I have NO patience and in this game that's not a great thing to have.


    Turnip
     
  11. joe sixpak

    joe sixpak Banned

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    I would be concerned if two of them wanted to sign you to be your agent and you had to tell them they were competing against the other one.
    They might both just drop you and leave you swinging in the wind.
    Best case you get an agent but also one in the business who dislikes you enough to be able to sabotage your efforts.

    A lot of these agents and publishers do know each other and word can get around if they feel you treated them unfairly.

    Or am I too paranoid?
     
  12. Foxxx

    Foxxx The Debonair Contributor

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    I don't think saying you have another offer is treating them unfairly, although you might want to say it in a different way. The way you described it almost sounds like a girl pitting two guys to fight over her, and agents don't play that game.

    "Great! I'm excited you're interested in signing me, I really appreciate it. I'd like to be upfront with you about having received another offer. What are your thoughts?"

    The agent might also want to know the details about the other offer, just so they know what they're dealing with, and so they know the "other offer" is actually real and you're not trying to deceive them.

    As far as how you treat agents and publishers, obviously you want to do so in a professional manner. I'd think that goes for any job or career. Keeps you from building a bad reputation.
     
  13. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    It's a very common scenario that an author gets multiple offers.

    When you receive an offer you talk to the agent on the phone about various things, then thank them and say you need some time (1-2 weeks is standard) to make a decision. You then contact all the agents who've requested materials, and maybe some who haven't yet responded to the query, if you really want to give those agents a chance, tell them you've received an offer and give them the timescale by which you have to make a decision. They will either step aside or they will read the full and make a counter-offer if they want to.

    You then decide which offer to take and let the agents know.

    This is entirely standard and it's what everybody expects you to do.

    You could, of course, accept the first offer and then withdraw your manuscript from the other agents... but that's not usual, isn't in your best interests, and will probably piss some of them off. Imagine them spending several hours reading your manuscript, getting excited, and then an email pops into their inbox saying you've signed with another agent. Or, even worse, they contact you and you say , "Oh, sorry, I signed with another agent last week." Waste of everyone's time, and one thing agents don't have enough of is time.

    Even if it's your "dream agent" (I hate that term and the idea behind it) who makes the first offer, you'd be a fool to accept right away IMO. Maybe another agent on your list has an editor hungry to buy a manuscript just like yours, and you don't give her the chance to make an offer... ouch.

    If an agent is pressuring you to sign with her right away, or gets annoyed with you for wanting time to think... avoid her. She isn't a professional.

    Many reputable agents will actually insist that you take some time to think. Mine did, and I remember reading both Jessica Faust (BookEnds) and Janet Reid (Fuse) saying in their blogs that they do it. Nobody wants to sign an author who then regrets it.
     
    amerrigan likes this.

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