Uphill both ways in the snow...only I'm not kidding

Dear Miss Snark-

I snagged an agent last year for my first novel. He's sent it to 11 editors and received 10 rejects and does not plan to send to any more (our 6-month contract is almost up).

Can I try to get another agent? I had another one very interested before I went with the one I have, one who sells more literary fiction. Will the fact that my agent wasn't able to sell it dissuade another agent from considering me? Should I send a list of the editors who passed to a prospective new agent? I've also revised the book recently.

No (but if by some miracle an agent bites, you'll need to be able to send it then).

This is going to be a VERY hard sell to an agent. Unless your agent called it a romance when it was a Western, it's going to be really hard to find someone to take this on.

You'd do well to query another novel and leave this one for the second book on a two book deal.


Anonymous said...

Miss Snark: Why would this be a hard sell? The agent we're talking about didn't put in much effort in my opinion. If we should query widely so should the agent. If (s)he sent it to just 11 editors, there's plenty of others who haven't seen it yet.

Lora said...

Why not write another book? If your agent sent it to 11 publishers, it's pretty much had its day, no?
After you write and sell a second book and are succssfully launced this book will find a home. Or not. You might decide this no longer represents your best work.
But don't fixate on one book!

Heidi the Hick said...

Listen, I'm still trying to get past the first sentence here.

"I snagged an agent last year for my first novel."

I really don't hear this very often. Most writers I follow and read about say it was the third or fourth novel that got the agent.

I think this writer should feel good about getting that far with this piece, and get writing like crazy on the next one.

Anonymous said...

Wow. 11 submissions in six months? That's not only a lot, that's very quick response. Between getting an agent and such quick responses, sounds like you've got some talent, but this book doesn't work.
I would be grateful to this agent. I would read through the rejections, and figure out what was wrong with this book, and write another one. Then I would pray that this agent, who accomplished so much for you, would take on the new book.
Over all, this sound like a good learning experience, and it was relatively painless.

Anonymous said...

"Miss Snark: Why would this be a hard sell?"

Uh, does the term "shopworn" mean anything to you? What would you be giving a new agent to sell? It's already been all over the place.

Therese said...

Have you (the author) chatted with your agent about *why* he's stopping at this point? Seems important to know if it's strategic(to give you the chance to revise more thoroughly, then try another round?) or lack of interest, or disenchantment, etc.

Considering how difficult it is to land an agent--and Miss Snark's point that you won't smell as good now as you did before--I think you'd be wise to have a heart-to-heart with the one you have before cutting loose.

You liked the agent enough to sign with him; some patience and communication might just resolve your problems.

Anonymous said...

The fat lady hasn't sung for you, yet. Editor 11 might not reject.

Liz Wolfe said...

Six months is fast? Really? Dear dog, I hope you're wrong.

Anonymous said...

First, I would find out why your agent doesn't plan to continue submitting. He must have a reason.

Second, are you unhappy with this agent for other reasons?

Third, have you been writing something new?

Anonymous said...

I am not sure why my agent isn't resubmitting. He evades the question whenever I ask. I told him I was revising do strengthen the main plot, and he said it wouldn't matter as he won't sent it out anymore. He claims it's a hard sell because it's literary and fairly dark, although he's sent me all the rejects and they rejected for all sorts of reasons (most were very positive).

I am somewhat unhappy with him because he was vague from the get-go about how many editors he'd query and hasn't discussed things when I ask about them. He also reps mostly nonfiction.

Yes, I am working on a new book. He says we can try to sell the first when we try to sell the new one (which will probabyl take a care or two to finish)

Anonymous said...

poster said:
First, I would find out why your agent doesn't plan to continue submitting. He must have a reason.

Where else would you like it submitted? Kinko's books? Eleven submissions in six months sounds fabulous to me. A lot of agents submit one house at a time, and then you wait. With ten out of eleven saying no, there's obviously something not up to snuff with the book. And it must be enough that no editor has offered editorial guidance or resubmission info.

This project sounds dead to me. Or at least dead enough that the agent feels they won't be able to recoup their postage.

Anonymous said...

Six months is fast? Really? Dear dog, I hope you're wrong.

My novel has been on submission for about 10 months with 9 rejections to date.

This business is slooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwww.

Anonymous said...

My novel has been on submission to 15 houses with *no* responses in a year's time (1st wave 2/06, 2nd wave 11/06). Is this the agent or the industry?

Anonymous said...

Please, please, please dump this agent NOW. Do not send him your next manuscript. He doesn't deserve it, or you. Losing interest after only 10 (mostly) positive rejections? That's shameful, in my opinion.

My manuscript sounds similar to yours. Literary and a bit dark. I've had an agent for going on two years now. (Medium-sized agency with several bestselling clients.) She has sent my manuscript to 20 editors, all of whom rejected it. I revised, based on the feedback, and she has it out now for another round. It has made it to two editorial boards, but stalled there. She believes in my book so strongly that she has told me she's not stopping until somebody buys it.

Meantime, I've written a new manuscript. She loves that one, too.

You deserve an agent who loves your work as much as my agent loves mine. Based on all of the comments here, I feel breathtakingly lucky to have her.

Maybe I'll send her a bottle of champagne right now, just because.

Anonymous said...

Eleven, that's a baby number, and six months, blink.

My book was shopped to more than 20 over a year.

I thought about bailing from my agent. I had an overture.

Then, yikes, a nice deal.

This is a seat of the pants business. Predicting a successful book is about as reliable as predicting an earthquake.

Anonymous said...

Hint: If you're losing faith in your agent, don't you think it's possible, even likely, that he's losing faith in you simultaneously? Unless he's autistic, he must know you're pissed and getting antsy, thinking it's his fault your first novel hasn't sold.

You should know, meanwhile, that what he's thinking is that maybe he was wrong about how good your book was. Maybe he isn't good at knowing what's marketable (this is especially true if what he's mostly been successful at is non-fiction).

Your email sounds like one I could've written about 8 years ago. Only difference was, I didn't give up on an agent who loved my work UNTIL he decided he didn't recognize marketability and he was going to concentrate on non-fiction.

Moral (for me, and, I suspect you): Find an agent who specializes in what you write, not one who's 'branching out', 'just beginning' (that was mine), or 'eager to try something new' without any proven new author sales.

Anonymous said...

What if the first novel is the beginning of a possible series of books?