Answering Your Questions
I welcome fiction queries from everywhere. Non-fiction is tougher, because most non-fiction books are more dependent on the author being able to promote the book here in the US, but if I loved the book I wouldn’t say no just because the author doesn’t live here.
Debbie Barr said…
If you get a query for a book that’s not for you, but sounds like something one of the other agents at your agency would like, do you pass the query letter on to them, recommend the author query them instead, or do you not say anything?
We only have two agents in our agency, and if I think a project might be right for Greg, I forward it to him. I think most agents do this; some agencies say it’s okay for you to query others in the agency, and some say they’d prefer you don’t.
If you’re writing a trilogy, is it wiser to hold off querying an agent until you have the synopses of books #2 and #3 written, or can you submit book #1 with ideas for the other two rattling around in your brain but no synopsis?
If you don’t have clear ideas for what books 2 and 3 are about, I’m not sure why you’re set on writing a trilogy. You may have some fuzzy ideas but the publisher isn’t paying fuzzy money, they’re paying real money, so it’s best to have real book ideas. In any case, I think it’s okay to query as long as you have a single paragraph description of books 2 and 3, and they’re compelling enough to warrant the agent selling it as a trilogy.
However, if you’re unpublished, you’re safer having more than that. I’d rather you have full synopses of books 2 and 3, and I’d also like to see that you’ve at least partially written book 2 (in draft form). Many authors have spent literally years on that first book, and if they get a contract, they won’t have that luxury with the next books. You need to satisfy both yourself and your agent that you can actually produce two more books in a reasonable timeframe.
Flower Patch Farmgirl said…
You mention in your “What I’m Looking For” that it is important for a writer to do her homework prior to submitting queries. What would you recommend as some good starting places for doing this initial ground work?
Reading agent blogs and other publishing blogs; getting Writers Market and Guide to Literary Agents and reading the articles in the front of those books; reading articles in The Writer magazine and Writer’s Digest.
Julie Geistfeld said…
How many queries should go out before a MS is put on the back burner?
Okay, kidding. Only you can decide when to back-burner a project. It’s not a matter of “how many queries.” Seems like you’d want to try and identify why you’re not getting positive responses, perhaps work with an editor or critique partner to revise it, send it out again. Try and get some honest, objective feedback and if a knowledgeable person says, “This one’s just not going to work,” then think carefully about whether to spend more time on it or not.
Sally Napthali said…
I’m about to start a charity for the area I write in. I already use the book material as a resource to run individual and group programs. So if you already have an audience for your non-fiction book, do you really need an agent? What would suit this best for publishing—a publishing house or self publishing?
You have to decide whether your book has a large enough potential audience to interest a major publisher, or if the audience is very niche and therefore best served by self-publishing. Will anyone beyond those in your programs buy it? If not, then self publish. But if you determine there is a large audience for the book and you want a major publisher, then you’ll probably need an agent. Don’t forget there may be a middle ground—are there any independent niche publishers that might be interested in your book? Also, beware of fooling yourself about the potential size of your audience.
Should an unpublished author create their own website before becoming signed to better promote themselves and their work? Does it make the new writer appear more professional to an agent?
Fiction, no. Non-fiction, yes. Everyone should have a blog, and it’s a good idea to reserve some domain names if you plan to be published, but there’s no need for a novelist to have a website before having a contract. If you have the resources and you want one, go for it. On the other hand, a non-fiction author may already have a website for their business or whatever they’re an “expert” in, which is also the topic of their book. Remember, a non-fiction author needs a platform before they sell a book to a publisher. That “platform” may involve a business or being known in the area of your subject matter.
© 2011 Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent