Your Questions, My Answers
Okay, here are more questions I’ve received lately. I’ll warn you right now, my answers are NOT FUNNY. They are, in fact, boring. Sorry.
JR Beasley said:
I have queried multiple agents. One agent has requested a full manuscript and three others are reviewing partials. When offered representation by an agent, what is the proper protocol regarding the other agents?
First, congrats! That’s a terrific situation in which to find yourself. When you’re offered representation and other agents have requested partials, send them each an email to let them know and give them an opportunity to respond before accepting representation from the first agent. Exception: If the agent who offers representation is ME, just say yes and forget the rest. 🙂
Missives From Suburbia asked…
What writing conferences are the most beneficial to writers who want to learn about the query process, either by learning to write better queries or getting face-to-face feedback from agents who have read their pages?
I don’t think you can choose a particular conference based on their teaching of queries. You’ll have to look at the faculty list and the schedule of workshops offered for each conference, and decide which one looks like it offers what you want. Even better, you might want to look for online workshops and webinars that specifically teach queries.
I am a published author of a trilogy, several anthologies and short stories. Do I need an agent at this point (I’ve gotten good reviews & only two rejections ever-I’m stunned it isn’t two thousand!)and would any agent be interested in me?
This is one of those questions that can’t be answered generally. Are your books any good? Have they sold decent numbers? Do you have lots of good ideas for future books? And more importantly, have you identified why you might want an agent at this point and what you hope they can do for you? If you want an agent, the process is the same as for anyone else: send out some queries with not only your pitch for your next book but also your publishing history (including sales figures), and see what happens.
I have a gift book idea that would also fit as a scrapbook ‘kit’ or instant scrapbook. I’ve not had any success finding agents who represent that type of work. Should I be looking somewhere else other than regular publisher/agent lists and if so, where?
You might be having difficulty finding agents because what the heck type of book idea is that? Okay, kidding. (Don’t anybody accuse me of ridiculing an author! I happen to like scrapbooking.) In all seriousness, craft books are difficult to sell, plus there are a lot of scrapbooking products already on the market. Your book might not even be appropriate for publishers but instead, scrapbooking companies.
If you think it really is a “book”, then you should be scouring Writers Market Online and Publishers Marketplace as well as Amazon to identify all the publishers (and agents) who do those kinds of books, and approach them. The scattershot approach isn’t going to work with a specialized book like that. Visit the craft section at your bookstore and look in the Acknowledgments of craft books and write down all the agent names you find.
Tom Dowler asked…
Would you recommend pre-converting sample pages to Kindle format and attaching them to a query or is that the sort of obnoxious brown-nosing that annoys more than endears?
Forget the Kindle conversion. Have your manuscript printed on chocolate bars (a white chocolate sans serif font looks great on dark chocolate) and send those. Failing that… no, please don’t convert your MS to Kindle format. (1) We don’t need that, we simply send the Word doc to our e-readers; and (2) many agents don’t have Kindles, they have iPads or Sony Readers or Nooks or um, they print it out and read it on paper.
I foolishly had my book printed by a POD publisher six years ago. It has sold maybe four copies. When my contract expires next year, I am thinking of reworking the whole thing: Title, character names, etc. – but not the plot – and try to find a REAL publisher. What reasons can you give for me to NOT try this?
Reason #1: Your book is really awful.
Reason #2: You are lazy.
Reason #3: By the time your POD contract expires, there are no REAL publishers left.
Reason #4: Um… can’t think of anything. If you don’t have reason 1, 2, or 3, I say go for it.
S. Paul Bryan implored…
Tell us which things are absolutely essential to get right; which things are nice to have, but not essential; and which things make absolutely no difference.
I was going to write a whole post on this, but decided I don’t need to. The question was in response to my post asking if there is “too much information” in the blogosphere for writers. I don’t think it’s possible to give a satisfactory answer to this one, because every agent will have their own answer. Bottom line?
Absolutely essential: A book that other people would enjoy reading, and a pitch that makes someone want to read it.
Nice to have: A query that’s targeted to the agent you’re querying and includes all the information they need.
Makes absolutely no difference: The fact that you’ve been writing since you were 3, and any other bio information that doesn’t relate to the book you’re pitching.
Finally, MC Planck asked…
Do you get a better quality of query now that you’ve spent so much time educating people on how to do it?
I have to admit, I get a lot of good queries, and I can tell people are paying attention. I love this. It makes it worthwhile to read through the queries because even though a lot of them are unsuitable or poorly written, I’m continually impressed by how many good ones there are.
Thanks for the questions! I’ll open it up today… if you have a question about publishing, put it in the comments.
(c) 2010 Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent