Yet another reason to query widely

Miss Snark,

I received an odd rejection letter the other day. Two handwritten notes from the agent on my query letter. The first one noted that most fantasy publishers are not willing to look at manuscripts over 100,000 words for first time authors. (mine is a little over 130k) The second said that if I could get a "rave review quote" from a published fantasy author who had read my book in its entirety the agent would consider reading my MS.

1) Is this an odd request?

2) How would one go about asking for a published author to read their work. The few authors I know in person I wouldn't ask because I've heard them talk about not reading MS for legal issues (a good practice in my mind). And it seems very presumptuous to ask someone you don't even know to read your MS for you.

1. yes
2. you're right: you don't.

Nothing makes me scream like a wounded water buffalo faster than some unpublished, AGENTLESS author without a book deal asking my client to read something. I try to respond politely but "wtf? and no!" are hard to phrase any other way.

Query other agents.


Kimber Li said...

Oh, thank you, Miss Snark! I've been advised to ask my author buds too, but haven't because it just felt wrong somehow. We get soooo much conflicting advise. It's hard to know what to do.

Aprilynne Pike said...

What the agent should have said is "I am not comfortable taking on a project this long as an AGENT." Because the truth is that if your agent is comfortable with the length and has a great pitch, editors most certainly will look at long manuscripts from first time writers. Mine is 150K and is on the desk of six excellent editors in the fantasy genre.

And getting a comment from a published author? That's just laziness IMO. (On the agent's part, not yours.:))

What you need to do is, as Miss Snark suggested, query more agents till you find one who IS comfortable with that length. They are out there, I promise. If you are having trouble finding any, follow my username to my blog and e-mail me--I'll give you a very long list.;)


P.S. The usual disclaimers apply--make sure your book really needs to be that long, cut supperfluous info, words, etc. But if you're querying, I'm assuming you've already done that.;) Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

What the Hell? No way is 100k too long for a fantasy novel, first timer or no. Very unusual that an agent should say so.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you brought this up, and wish you'd explore it further. Because I'm getting requests like that, too - to blurb unagented/unpublished authors - and I feel like a heel when I have to say, "I'm sorry, no, but please let me know if you need a blurb when you have a publisher."

Yet on other writing forums, agents themselves are talking about this practice - the need to get blurbs prior to submission. But how on earth is the average author going to do this? I know I didn't know a soul in publishing when I was first starting out.

Anonymous said...

Here's my understanding of fantasy lengths: publishers don't want any more Robert Jordan-esque tomes, not because they aren't good, but because the booksellers are grumbling. Seems they can fit more books on the shelves if the books are shorter, and the booksellers prefer books in the 100k range.

That being said...

I don't think many publishers or book ethusiasts are listening because most of the published books I'm seeing are still running in the 110-125k length.


Agent number one should be written off your list for being an idiot and not knowing the market. Not to mention he/she needs a thorough whapping for perpetuating dumb-ass rumors like these.

Agent number two needs a thorough whapping, too, but Miss Snark has covered why.

Bascially, these two are idiots of back-water (can't be first water--they're no good). They're looking for excuses to reject people, but instead of saying "no, not for me," they're making up complete bullshit and feeding it to the new writers. Talk about making _me_ see red. I'm a Taurus. Makes me bellow like a wounded water buffalo and then try to snag them on my horns.

Dave Kuzminski said...

WTH is the agent? You can whisper it to me at prededitors@att.net

ec said...

Tell the second agent you'd be delighted to do as he asks, then request a list of HIS published fantasy clients. Express a preference for one who has a day job, two preschool kids, and a major deadline looming. Then ask if he wouldn't mind calling that author's publisher, requesting an extension, and explaining why.

Maybe he'll get it then.

What can I tell you--some people are clueless until it's about them.