Dear Miss Snark,
I had an agent. She submitted my novel to 12 publishers who summarily sent 12 rejections. After that, my agent dropped me.
It seems to me that it will be impossible for me to get a new agent now. If I query literary agencies again, do I admit that I HAD an agent and that she dropped me? Do I not mention it at all? Do I lie? What the hell am I supposed to do?!
It took me a very long time -- many, many queries! -- to even be accepted by the agent that I HAD. The other option (that I see in my present state of doom) is to simply skip the agent scenario entirely and send my novel to small presses that consider unsolicited fiction.
Thank you. Really, thank you.
You don't have to say anything in the query letter. You must however mention it at some point before you open a vein and sign an offer for representation and mail off your first born child to seal the deal. Sooner is better than later. A new agent will be spitting mad if s/he finds out "Miss Snark's Snout of Gin" was previously rejected last year by the same editor s/he just sent it over as the next great True Crime tale.
And it's perfectly fine to submit a first book to publishers while you query agents on a second book. Just don't sign any publishing contract without having it looked at by a publishing lawyer or an agent, or that joke about blood and first born kid won't be quite so funny.