Wednesday, December 28, 2011

#AskAgent Goodbye 2011 Edition!

Ask away! Questions are totally up to you. You can ask in the comments section between noon and 3 EST today.


  1. Ooh, I've been waiting for this one! Hurry up, noon!

    Hope 2011 is winding down in relaxing, happy ways for you, Ms. Barnes.

  2. I am out on multiple submissions. An agent reviewed my full ms. and sent me some requested revisions. A different agent has asked me to keep her informed of any movement/agent interest on the ms. Should I tell her about the other agent's requested revisions? Also, should I get an offer of rep from the agent who sent the requested revisions, do I offer to let others considering the ms. read the revised version?

  3. Thank you for opening up to questions today!

    I have a question about pitching to agents at conferences. If I go to a pitch slam (or something similar) and pitch to an agent, should I consider that a query? If so, should I consider a "not interested" reply at a pitch slam as a final answer from that agent, or can I query that agent later with an improved pitch? I know I'm not supposed to query the same agent twice, but isn't the conference supposed to be a learning tool as well?

    Thanks again and happy new year!

  4. After months of no word on a query and 1st chapter, I figured a very awesome agent was a no/no, and I moved on. I was in the middle of finishing my latest ms, getting it ready for my betas, when I received a request for full from that agent--totally out of the blue--right before Thanksgiving. I sent and went on polishing this new ms, aiming for January submissions.

    Here we are about to move into January, but I haven't heard back on the full (and not enough time has passed to nudge, imo). Should let it ride without saying anything to awesome-agent and move along, querying this new ms to other agents?
    Should I drop her a note to let her know I am about to begin submitting another project, include the query for it in the email, and see if she's interested in it as well/instead? This option scares me, because I know we're supposed to send the one we want to lead with (not that that wasn't what I did in the first place...things have just changed a little).

    ...or is there something else entirely different to do?

    Thank you for your advice!

  5. As an author in New Zealand, I have (unsuccessfully) queried past projects with agents in the US, UK and Australia. For my next project I intend to do the same, and I wondered what your take is on the need for representation in different markets. I know of some Australian authors who have both Australian and US agents. Do you think this is a good approach, or would you prefer to be the exclusive agent in all cases? (This assumes my next work is good enough to attract the interest of multiple agents, which is wildly optimistic)

  6. @Ms. Snip

    It's great that you have some interest! Here's what you should do:

    1. Do the revisions for Agent 1. Make sure you give him/her an ETA that is between 6 and 8 weeks after their request, unless the revisions are very minor (like line edits). If I give significant revisions (this character is flat, the worldbuilding, deepening sense of place) I expect it to take a while.

    2. You don't need to tell the other agents with your full about the revision unless they've gone beyond just requesting the full. In other words, if there is a relationship, let them know. A form full request is no more a relationship than a form rejection.

    3. If any agent requests a full after you're significantly underway with the the revisions, let them know about the revision when you send them the old full. Give them a brief bulleted description of what those revisions are (like, the main character is now a girl in the new one!) Ask whether they want to see the partially revised/new full. But do send them the old one.

    4. If another agent offers before you finish the revisions or offers from before Agent 1 asked for revisions (aka offers on the old ms), do the normal stuff: Decide whether you want the offering agent, get your questions ready, arrange a phone call, and give everyone else who's requested the full a week to get back to you.

    5. If 4 doesn't happen, submit your revisions to Agent 1 and wait for his/her answer.

    6. If Agent 1 offers, do the steps in number 4. And when you email to give everyone the week's notice, let them know that the ms has been revised and give them the bulleted overview of what has changed. Personally, I'd like to have the new manuscript attached to this email, so I could look it over. But that's up to you.

  7. @CherryBomb

    Yes. If you pitch an agent at a conference and they say no, you can query them traditionally IF:

    1. They actually represent the genre you pitched. I would always say no to, say, a children's picture book because I don't rep them even if your pitch was good.

    2. Your query is up to snuff. If you just write down what you say to them at the conference, don't expect more interest. Visit

  8. @Crow

    Nope, these two projects are separate. It's great that Awesome Agent requested your full, but that's all she's requested (for now).

    You should just keep track of the subs for that old ms, and nudge when appropriate.

    In the meantime, prepare your query for the new project and go out with it when you're ready. If someone offers:

    1. On the old ms:

    Decide whether you want that agent, arrange a phone call, and give the other agents who have requested the full *of this ms* a week to get back. It would be inappropriate/useless to tell the agents who have requested the new one.

    In the phone call with the offering agent, you should absolutely tell him/her about the new project, tell them about any interest, etc. You should be testing the waters for your full career and all of your work.

    If that offer results in representation, you have to pull all manuscripts of all projects from all submission.

    2. If someone offers on the New manuscript, subbed in January:

    Repeat the above: decide if the agent is a good fit, arrange a phone call, tell the agents who have requested THIS full, give them a week, etc.

    If an agent offers on each, you've just got to decide who's best for you in the long term and go with that.

  9. @Charlotte

    Why is that so ambitious?! Aim high. :)

    Most author/agents are exclusive. And we're talking 95%. The exceptions are if you're Steven King, who just has too much going on for one agent to handle or if you write in widely disparate genres/categories.

    So some queries I get are from authors who are represented for their adult but need someone else to take care of their YA. And, to be clear, that decision is one that they reach with their original agent.

    It can't just be that you don't think said agent will do a good job with a project. The agent has to agree with that sentiment and know and agree that you should seek representation elsewhere for ONLY your YA.

    Other examples might be repped for fiction, but you want to write a nonfiction project. Or vice versa. Or just someone with a unique situation (to cover my a$$).

    What you're looking for, as a non-US writer, is an agency, whether here or in Australia, that has a really good foreign rights record. Then, they'll be able to rep your work in your home market, whether that's the US or you get pubbed in Australia first, as well as everywhere else in the world.

    It's something you should be easily able to find on their site or on Publisher's Marketplace or something to be asked in the offer-of-representation phone call.

  10. I actually have a question based on your response to Crow....

    You said 'Decide whether you want that agent, arrange a phone call, and give the other agents who have requested the full *of this ms* a week to get back. It would be inappropriate/useless to tell the agents who have requested the new one.'

    I'm confused by this, because I would have thought an agent that was interested enough in your work to request the 2nd MS would want to know of an offer, even if it was on a different MS. Wouldn't agents with the 2nd full be annoyed to have that MS pulled without a chance to learn of the 1st and ask to read it real quick and possibly counteroffer? Especially if they were leaning towards offering on the 2nd, or would have?

    Obviously, many agents with the 2nd might have no interest in the first, would have passed on the 2nd ultimately anyway, or simply wouldn't have time to read a whole other MS in the week allotted, so I could see notifying them as being potentially useless, but would it really be inappropriate to let them know and see how they wanted to handle it?

  11. @Kalen

    Authors should query one project at a time, from this agent's perspective. So, in an ideal world, you'd hear from every single agent you queried with project 1 before ever going out with project 2.

    But the truth is that even though they really, really want to, many agents go through "swamped" periods where they take far longer to respond to a query or a full request than they say they will. And we don't expect writer's to put their writing life on hold for 6 months waiting for us.

    So, it's OK to go ahead and move on to another project, but that query process is entirely separate from the first project's query process. You can absolutely requery the Project 1 "No" agents with project 2. You can even send Project 2's query to the agents who have the Project 1 full but haven't responded, referencing the fact that they have had Project 1 for X months.

    But agents that have project 2 have no idea that project 1 exists. If you pop up all of a sudden and tell them that they have to read a whole different book to decide if they want to rep you, when they're already knee deep in reading the book you queried, that's when they'll get annoyed--unless it just is an even better fit for them than Project 1.

    There are 10 submissions on my Kindle right now that need to be evaluated for representation. If one of them is your project 2 and you say I have to drop that and read project 1, it's very easy for me to look at the other 9 books, estimate the amount of time I have to devote to all of this, and say No.

    Agents miss out on books because another agent is faster all the time. We have to accept that sometimes someone will beat us to the punch. It's part of the job.

    Sometimes we can't even commit to reading one book when an author announces the week's deadline because they have other interest. So we'll bow out.

    As you've no doubt heard on every other agent's blog you've read, queries and new submissions account for about 2% of an agent's day-to-day activities. The rest is taken up with editor lunches, client work, and correspondence.

    Slush may be one of the most exciting elements of my job, but it's not one that I can spend copious amounts of time on or read a whole bibliography before deciding on rep. Unless it's my dream book.

    But if it's not my dream book, and that author has other interest, I just have to accept that it *was* someone else's dream book, and that's why they moved so fast.