Dear Miss Snark,

I may get the cluegun today with my question. Do you need to inform agents about multiple query letters? I sent a query letter to my dream agency (their response time is four weeks and they want a one month exclusive to review your ms. if they request it). I hadn't planned to send other query letters until I receive my response. Some agents want sample pages along with query letters and I'm not sure how that affects the exclusivity request.

My gut says, "Just wait. Your dream agency is worth it." And then my bored and fidgety self says, "I hate waiting. Waiting is hell! Let's stir up some action." Besides psychotherapy, do you have any advice for the newbie?

You don't have to inform anyone it's a multiple submission at the query stage (UNLESS the agency website specifically says you do). We assume you're querying widely.

And the best way to deal with nerves is to get cracking on sending more query letters.
And don't get me started on the lunacy of picking a "dream agency". That's like falling in love with Mr. Clooney and failing to consider that perhaps other choices, closer to hand, and more realistic are the better choice.

Dear Dog in Heaven, I believe Grandmother Snark has hijacked the blog.


McKoala said...

Enquiring minds must know: just who does Grandmother Snark consider good enough for her beloved granddaughter if not Mr Clooney?

Kit Whitfield said...

If you're really set on your 'dream agency', then multiple submissions won't interfere. If you got another offer, then you can always contact the dream agency and let them know; that'll get an answer out of them. If it's 'no', then they wouldn't have wanted your book anyway, and you can go with the people who offered with a clear mind.

But a word on the subject of 'dream agencies'. The relationship is between an author and an agent, not an agency. Obviously it's good to be with an agency you respect, but it's just as important to get on with the individual who represents you. And lots of agencies contain good agents. Viewing a dream agency from the outside is not necessarily a guide to who's best for you; you'll find that out by getting responses to your manuscript, seeing who's enthusiastic about it, who shares your sense of the book, who'll put up a good case when selling it.

Don't get too hung up on a 'dream agency'. You never know who's the right agent for you until you've seen their response to your work.

Ellen said...

Good comment on the dream agents. Absolutely right. You are seeing things from the outside. How do you know that the dream agent you lust after isn't a flaming a#$*@&@ in "real life?" Just because she or he does the job for Grisham or Roberts doesn't mean they'll even pay more than a smidgen of attention to you. For goodness sake, they're busy!

It's like getting the dream date for the prom, and learning the guy picks his nose in public the night of. Not so good up close and personal.

Do as Miss Snark advises. Query widely. And try to keep an open mind and flexible dreams.

Therese said...

Definitely query all your runners-up while you wait! With the rejection rate at most good agencies running at 97% or so, you want to increase your odds of gaining representation.

Remember, your "dream agency" may not see your project in a reciprocal light (though I do wish you luck!).

To my knowledge there's no issue with exclusivity when sending materials with a query.

When I was looking for an agent, I queried my top-tier all within a week or so, and got three immediate requests to send my full ms. A fourth came a few days later; that agent asked for an exclusive two-week read, but when I said the ms was already with three others, it was no problem.

She asked me to FedEx it, then read it in two days and offered representation.

So here's a case where multiple queries proved advantageous! Just be straightforward when the time comes to discuss exclusives.

Ellen said...

When I got close to querying, I made up my list. I had rounds of agents to query, several at a time. And I did have an agent whom I thought would be pefect for my work. He was a mover, a shaker, a boy wonder, and cute to boot. He had great clients, and editors loved him. He made great deals.
Then he left the business before I had a chance to submit.
I was disappointed, because I thought we would make a good fit. But since he took himself out of the game, there wasn't much I could do about it.
That's why for me, the business of submitting is "out there." It's not personal, it's not predictable. And as I was stunned to learn, agents have private lives. Someone who is perfect for you might leave business to open a ski resort. Or something. It apparently happens a lot. So don't set your heart on one person or one agency.

CMonster said...

The Snark family seems eerily reminicent of the Kong family at times. I can just see Miss Snark grabbing barrels of gin by her wicked ponytail, or helicoptering over the unwitting literary predators before bopping them stiletto-style.

Anonymous said...

Ellen, that's a great point. Also, you mentioned that agent "made great deals." Why is it some firmly established agents seem to be unable to make great deals - meaning their PM reports are all in the "nice" category. Have editors just learned they can do that with this agent? Or are they bigger believers in low advances = more likelihood of success with the numbers? Or are they just not good at setting up auctions and pre-empts?