Dear Miss Snark:
An agent was very excited about one of my psychological thrillers and agreed to represent me. I suspect she expected to make a quick sale. She sent out nine copies of the manuscript to major publishing houses, got back a few interesting replies, some personal, others appear to be standard rejections. She felt she was right on the edge of acceptance, then illness forced her to shut down her agency before a second round.
Now, I'm in a quandary. Please shed some light on how you -- or another agent -- would feel if approached under these circumstances. I feel it would be less than honest to approach an agent without the full story.
I keep telling myself about the famous authors who were rejected repeatedly by publishing houses before success. (Agents are not publishing houses, let's be clear about that.)
First, you query a new novel.
You don't want to go out on something that's been shopped. You say "I was represented by X until illness forced her agency to close. She did not sell Novel Y, a previous novel, and didn't handle Z, the novel I'm writing to you about now" (or something less clunky but you get the idea).
We see this all the time. I ALWAYS read the stuff that comes in like this cause truth is, if one of my colleagues thought she could sell your work, I'm likely to think it's saleable.