Wasting Away

I have been digging in your archives and note you suggest querying several agents simultaneously. In AAR, I can only find 12 agents who are looking for new clients and are in my category (Science Fiction/Fantasy). Once I finish those, should I just move on to Writers Guide and have at it? I'm worried about using the "good ones" up on my first book and not having good ones available to query for the next book which no doubt will be much improved.

Let's assume you didn't pause, and re-read this email before you sent it.
Let's take that pause now.
Read again. See the problem?
Read it again.

Hint: read the last six words.
Ah yes, now you see, and without being bopped by a clue stick.

For those who are still flummoxed read on:

Don't waste my time or anyone's time on your first novel if you know the second novel will be better. Send the second one. You do not have to send every novel you write out to an agent for it to have value. In fact, we'd all be happier, you especially, if you don't.

Yes, it's mostly a total waste of my time to hear about first novels. But it's also a waste of your time, money, and most important, your enthusiasm and confidence. Write a couple novels, and see how much you learn and THEN send me a little perfume scented note on unicorn (pink of course) stationery telling me this is a sure winner.


noel anonymous coward said...

Perhaps this permutation of the question calls for the application of the Clue Stick:

Should one bother an agent with one's fourth novel, knowing that the fifth will be better?

Kat said...

The problem is that the second novel's always better than the first. And the third is better than the second, and the tenth better than the ninth....

However, you do not "use up" agents unless you do something incredibly and memoriably dumb. It is fine to query an agent for your second novel that you previously queried for your first (see previous "incredibly and memoriably dumb" caveat).

And there are more than 12 agents taking sf/f. This may help, although I want to point out that it's basically my personal "send-to" list, and my information is no better and no more error-free than anyone else's. Also, and it really disturbs me that I have to point this out, note that I maintain an agent list: I am not an agent. Querying ME is useless.

Best of luck.

Anonymous said...

noel anonymous coward said: 'Should one bother an agent with ones fourth novel, knowing that the fifth will be better?'

I think that's an excellent point. It's like the old math joke that if you put the men on one side of a room and the women on the other and allow them to halve the distance between them each time a bell rings, mathematically they will never meet. But for all practical purposes...

I think the practical thing to do is write the second novel and then from the experience gained doing that, go back to the first novel and edit the snot out of it so it measures up to the second one, assuming the first novel worth revising.

The Beautiful Schoolmarm said...

There are many, many agents accepting sf/f. Get a subscription to Writer's Market online (it' about $30/yr, and worth it), check out agentquery.com, though always check out the agent's webpage and full profile, because I have found some conflicting information out there.

There may not be as many as you would find for chick lit or thrillers or mystery, but there are more than 12, and there are reputable agents who are not AAR members. I think Miss Snark talked about that at one point.

If all else fails in the agent search, go to Preditors and Editors and click on every linked agent who doesn't have "Not Reccomended" by their name. I found several options that way (but it takes forever).

emeraldcite said...


Not all reputable agents join the AAR. Good agents sell books. That's the key.

A. C. Crispin said...

If a writer can manage to sell just ONE short story to an accepted market in the sf/fantasy genre (see the SFWA website for a list, www.sfwa.org) that writer can then join SFWA as an Associate member and receive the SFWA Directory.

Listed in the SFWA Directory are all the agents who represent SFWA members, in alphabetical order, with full contact info appended.

If you think this info might prove useful, now you know how to get hold of it.

-Ann C. Crispin

Lady M said...

Truly. Interesting.

May I ask this double-sided question?

Would an agent really prefer to get a "Perfect Query" - one that is professionally perfect - like a form letter...


Would an agent prefer a refreshingly fresh query, with honest, basic info about the writer and the book on sceneted, unicorn paper?

Because I could provide the unicorn paper, or my favorite, dragon paper.

And I wear Paloma Picasso or Glamorous. Would those work?

*Said with a tone of laugher, regardless how serious the writing looks. For with laughter, even the most serious things can be amusing.*


On a side note: While I was researching agents - two of them took email queries and had an online submission form that was basically a way to create a "professional style query".

It was interesting, but one would think after seeing a hundred of these filled out, it would make your eyes cross and your finger become permanently stuck up your nose looking for something more interesting.


Lady M

Laraqua said...

Hehe, you can always send out your first novel later. The first novel I ever wrote is the one I love the most, I've re-written it a dozen times but don't yet have the skills to write it properly, so if I get published, it will probably only be sent out after my first ten published books, but in my opinion, it'd probably be the best. So if you're real keen on that novel, want it published, but know the next one is better, best write the second and third one and come back to the first later on. So you don't necessarily have to can it just coz it's your first.

Bernita said...

The tenth novel is not always better than the ninth.
Or you've been reading different authors than I.
The slope is not always upward.

Anonymous said...

But how do you know your first book sucks until somebody (who knows something) tells you? We all think we're brilliant, right? And how do we make Novel #2 better if we don't know what we did wrong with Novel #1?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Bernita.

Anonymous said...

I also agree with Bernita. But when it comes to an established author's work - I think we're talking a different issue.

Their writing may continue to get better, but often at book 10 the story is not necessarily better.

There are some authors I read regularly and have definitely felt an earlier book was better than their 6th or 15th. I think that's a hazard we accept when we become a fan of an author.

But talking about aspiring authors - the assumption is the more you write, the better you get.

I think that holds. And I think that's all Miss Snark meant. That as long as you stay the course and perfect your craft, the later mss will become stronger through practice.

As to anon who asked, how do you know your first book sucks?

Some people don't. Just like some people insist on auditioning for American Idol then burst into tears when told they have about as much talent as an infant baboon.

But a serious writer knows if their work is up to par, IMO. It's something you feel.

And anon, LOTS of rejections and a writer's committment to refining their writing is how you make #2, 3, or 100 better.

Finally, lets not mistake "writing that sucks" with a mss that won't sell, immediately.

Barry Goldblatt took 4 years and 10 rejections to sell one of his clients' first books.

The book didn't suck, it just didn't hit until many rounds of revisions and reads.

Anonymous said...

I'm the one who wrote the question and I think my first book is good(it is actually the second I've written). I've sent it out to a couple of agents so far. Thanks for all the info, it all helps. My second one is definitely better -- I can just tell the first 10K is much stronger, so I'll be busy working on that while I collect rejects and comments. thx Edix