6.29.2006

Yachts o'fun

Dear Miss Snark

I love your blog. Thanks so much for taking the time to help us all. And sending a letter to your client’s mom – it’s just classy!!!


My question is this. I have a completed manuscript for a novel – lit fiction 78,000 words. I sent out two query letters at the same time – the first was to a publisher who accepts queries via email and the second was to an agent who doesn’t accept queries by email.

About two weeks after I sent the query the publisher asked for a partial manuscript which I sent. Another two weeks later she came back to me saying that she loved what I sent her and asked for the full manuscript to be emailed to her. In the meantime the agent received the query and emailed me a reply asking for the full manuscript which she wants me to print out and send via snail mail.

I would prefer to sell my work via an agent – you are the professionals after all - but I don’t want to risk alienating the publisher because it is a small division of a very large publishing house and I think I would like them to publish my book. But again, I don’t really know if they are or aren’t the best publisher for my work.

1. Do I send them both the full manuscript or
2. should I just send the manuscript to the agent?

3. Do I tell the agent about my contact with this publisher (this has been my only contact with any publisher).

4. Do I tell the publisher about my contact with this agent?


I am aware that one or BOTH of them (sob!) might pass once they get the finished ms.


1. Yes
2. NO
3. Yes
4. Yes


Publishers and agents aren't in enemy camps. Publishers like us. They'll be glad to have an agent on board if they want to set sail with your work. Agents love the idea that a major publisher is interested.

I'm glad to see that your question didn't involve any part of "do I still have to pay an agent if I bring the publisher to the deal" cause selling a ms is a lot more than finding a publisher to say "yes I want to acquire this".

Good luck.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting and useful Q and A. I don't think any writer would choose to navigate the publishing world without an agent. Glad (and surprised) to hear Miss Snark say that a positive reaction directly from a publisher doesn't preclude the agent route.

michaelgav said...

Two query letters and two requests for full submissions, huh? Anyone know where I can pick up some nitroglycerin?

Noel Lynne Figart said...

There's a fantasy writer, Holly Lisle, who says that she got an agent exactly this way. She'd queried the agent, got a no, sold the book, asked him if he'd vet this one book and wound up working with the agent for some time.

Chumplet said...

I'd like to see the query letter that got two great responses so quickly. Best of luck to you!

JerseyGirl said...

Wow - can you write my query letter when I get to that point?

And good luck!

~Nancy

(verification word: glycu)

Anonymous said...

It's really quite simple, send it to them both. If the agent likes it, you can still ask them to negotiate your contract should the publisher choose to accept it and they may be helpful in selling other rights too.

Mallika said...

Good luck! Here's hoping we get to read the good news soon.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, let's see the query letter.