Thursday, October 6, 2011

#AskAgent 6

If you're enjoying these, make sure that you search #AskAgent on Twitter...or if you have general questions for the agent community, use the hashtag! It will help agents see your question on Twitter, one of the most amazingest information tools in the universe.

And now to our little #AskAgent! Questions will be open from noon until 3pm EST and they'll be answered by Friday. Anything's game, even project-specific questions. 

Be sure to read the #AskAgent Archive:


  1. Are you open to re-querying on a (revised) manuscript that you gave notes on what didn't work for you? Or should an author only query you again with a different manuscript?

  2. If an agency puts in their submission guidelines, "please include a sample chapter" - do they want the first chapter? Or does the lack of specificity invite any chapter you would like to send?

    I am writing a book about a young girl destined to become a Reaper, and the first few chapters deal with some very important deaths in her life and the emotional impact. Is that too dark for YA right now?

    Other than query shark, do you have an blogs you recommend for getting a query critiqued?

  3. My question is similar to Marquita's. What's your opinion on re-querying an agent who has already rejected a manuscript if the manuscript has been rewritten and edited?

  4. Hi Meredith!

    Thanks for taking hte time to do this.

    Okay so here's my question

    In #askagent #3 you answered a post about interns/assistants with this
    "Yes, most agents have interns or assistants read his or her queries. Even when you send to NAME@xxx.COM, an intern/assistant is probably reading the queries."

    Would a request for a partial and then a full be sent out by the assistant or the agent? And which one is appropriate to get excited about? (I know the latter but the former?)

    And would the assistant request with the agent's name in the email?

    THank you!

  5. @Marquita

    This is a good question, and one that I think a lot of people struggle with.

    Yes, you can requery a revision of a book that didn't work--IF the agent gave you notes. If you got a form rejection, it's pretty much a no forever.

    The most frustrating thing, though, is getting a supposed revision only to open the document and find all the same problems still there. Be honest and patient with your revision. Don't blow a second chance by rushing it.

  6. @Ms. Snip

    1. The phrase "sample chapter" usually refers to nonfiction, and it can be any chapter. But it should be one that gives a good taste of what the book is like. For most, this means the introduction or first chapter.

    If you're working with fiction, just send the first chapter always--no reason to drop an agent in to the middle!

    2. YA themes tend to be dark, so as long as you handle the death well and have created a deep character to react to the deaths, it can work.

    3. BookEnds Literary also critiques queries (and are great gals besides!). But Query Shark is the original.

  7. @No

    See my answer to Marquita (above!)

  8. @Brian

    Assistants often request material and then decide to recommend the agent read it or to reject it after all. So, yes, you may be getting requests from an Assistant. In my case, the request is signed by the Assistant, even when I'm doing the requesting.

    If the Assistant and I (or just I) decide that a rejection deserves notes, it's always signed with my name so that the poor Assistant doesn't get flack. You'd be surprised how mean people can be.

    Whether partial or full, you should be excited! I only request fulls now because I don't want to have to waste time emailing again if I fall in love with the partial.

  9. I have a question regarding agencies with the policy that a "no" from one is a "no" from all. What if you have an agent on your list who moves to an agency you already submitted to and received a rejection? I've heard the explanation that agents know what interests the other agents in their agency, but if that person wasn't there, they wouldn't have considered their interests when rejecting. Should I query the agent who is new to the agency or just cross them off my list?

  10. Hi Meredith!

    First off, thanks for doing the #AskAgent series!

    If an author has already sent follow up emails (after 8 weeks, of course) to agents who requested a full, but hasn't heard back, should she send any subsequent follow ups? After how long?

  11. Hi Meredith,

    If I'm querying a multiple POV story, but the sample pages (usually 5-10) are from a single POV, should I mention something in the query about the structure of the MS? My specific concern is that my query tackles the main storyline, but my opening chapter is from the villains POV, which could be confusing.


  12. @Trisha

    Hmm, tough choice. Your villain and the multiple POV should be mentioned in the query, so the agent should be ready for him/her.

    But if you think it will confuse an agent, consider how it would read to a general reader, who will only have a few lines on the back of the book--less, even than a query!

    You may be starting in the wrong place.

  13. A few months back before my MS was finished, I entered a Twitter pitch contest just to test my pitch out. I won and the agent requested pages. of course, she rejected them bc they were nowhere near ready. (This was the first contest I'd ever won in my whole life!) Now that I'm ready to query this MS, should I requery this agent?

    I hesitate bc it was a faux pas to enter the contest...I know better now.

  14. Meredith,

    I'm finishing up a YA novel that I plan on querying soon. I employ several different forms of communication (tweets, texts, etc) and use footnotes (think John Green.) Should I mention this in my query?


  15. Meredith thank you for not only this but all the advice you give on your blog. I have a question about my main characters age. She is 13, the boy she likes is in high school. This is book 1 in a contemporary fantasy series. I am worried that her age screams middle grade but I feel the series is young adult. Should i use the term upper middle-grade or younger young adult?
    Thanks again.

  16. @Melodie

    Yes, you should definitely query! Just have a one sentence reminder at the beginning of the query reminding the agent that you won his/her Twitter contest but were not quite ready to win--make it funny! Then just get yourself into the query. Don't over-explain yourself.

    Worst that could happen? He/she says no. Eh...that happens to us all.

  17. @Anna

    No, the query should tell, in 250 words, what the main storyline is. It's the time to introduce your manuscript's voice and the crux of the action--not your tricks with form.

    If the story and voice draw the agent in, they'll decide if the tricks work.

  18. @Jessica

    Your MC's age makes this middle grade. It would just be really hard to spin 13 into a YA. 15...maybe. But typically YA protags are between 16 and 18.

    Also, span in age between love interests is very important in YA. For instance, an eighteen-year-old female protag and a 20-year-old (or older) male love interest would give an agent or editor pause.

    So "in high school" could mean a lot of things for the guy here: between 14 and 19. But if the span between the characters is big, or they're in significantly different life places (like an eighteen-year-old high school girl and a 20+ person in college) that romance becomes the focus of the story. It wants to become a story about a dangerous/forbidden/unhealthy/complicated love.

    If you were writing a straight contemporary, I wouldn't be as pointed in bringing it up, but I feel like I should give a heads up in case the ages of the characters overwhelms other elements of your story.

  19. I didn't have a question this week, but I just wanted to say thanks for the information- very helpful.