Don't Fess Up This Early

Dear Miss Snark

I need your agent's eye. (ok but I want it back)

In January I sent a synopsis and some extracts of my book to the publisher I thought most likely to take an interest. The publisher is reasonably well known in its field. It was the first time I'd ever tried to get anything published and I expected a long wait, but to my surprise the Commissioning Editor wrote back within the week saying: "Dear Funnywoman, it is extremely rare for me to get back to anyone so fast but your submission was just what I needed this morning. The extracts had me laughing away here - comic writing is not easy to pull off but you seem to have the knack'.

She asked to see the rest, which I sent immediately, my little heart athrob. Some time went by and I politely enquired if she had come to any decision. Her email was short, friendly and encouraging - 'I thoroughly enjoyed it all and am now sharing it with others on the team. Will get back to you within the week.'

That was four months ago. Last week I sent another very gentle email of enquiry and have had no reply. It's beginning to look to me like it's Dumpsville Time.

My next move (once I have actually received the rejection) is probably to try and obtain an agent. My query to you is thus: Obviously I must, I presume, mention in my query letter to agents that the book has been seen by this one publisher (and eventually rejected.) Will it count against me, as in 'a suitable publisher for a work of this kind has already turned this down' - or might (I pray) it work FOR me in getting past an agent's slushpile, as in 'a respected editor liked this enough to give it serious consideration'?

Saddened, but still hopeful,

You don't have to mention it. Not in your query at least.
No agent in their right mind takes a project they think they can sell only one place unless it's VERY specialized stuff.. which is not what yours sounds like.

And this sounds like a smaller press. Don't toss in the towel, or your cookies, quite yet. Those guys can take forever plus an eon.

However, while you're waiting, start sending that puppy out into the dog eat dog world.
Knowing someone turned it down won't help you; leave it out of the query letter.

If an agent expresses interest, you can tell her/him you're waiting to hear from Godot Press, and the commissioning editor phoned you to say she liked it. If it comes to that you can say "they ultimately passed" but they haven't YET which is why NOW is a good time to query.

Spring is a horrible busy season. Sales conferences, BEA, getting ready for Brangelina's baby..yanno(tm/patentpending) we're like BUSY here.


Delilah said...

Miss Snark,

Are you sure you don't want to consider a stint as a stand-up comic instead of the hum-drum world of agenting? You would succeed swimmingly.

Meg said...

"waiting to hear from Godot Press"

I love it!

Kalen Hughes said...

Start querying agents NOW, while you can write in your letter that you have a requested full with X.

I did this when I had a requested full with Avon and got lots of fast returns and requests for fulls from agents. It really helped me move to t the top of the slush pile (and now I have an agent and a sale!).

Funnywoman said...

Thanks, Miss Snark. Very useful advice which gave me a whole new outlook - I would never have thought of querying an agen WHILE a publisher was interested. I've taken your advice and begun the agency submission road, desperately praying not to get rejected by Waiting for Godot Press in the meantime.

Thanks to Kalen also for additional evidence!

Oh - and at least I didn't get Nitwit of the Day - phew! :)