Yes, this is filled with whisky

Yes, this is filled with whisky

Friday, December 12, 2014

Query Queston: other agents if first agent does not respond

An agent has my full and disappeared. I sent nudges timed appropriately and haven't received any response. They're not a no-response-means-no agent, either (supposedly.)

I haven't pinned hope on this one agent, and have other fulls out. However, there are others at this agent's agency who I think would be interested. The main reason I queried the first agent before the others is because I was given a referral. How long should I wait before querying others at their agency? Can I not query them if this agent just never responds to me? 

 Oh lord referrals. They are troublesome things they are. The good ones are when an agent has read your manuscript, knows it's not for her/him for X reason, and says "query so and so at AgencyAuctionLLC"

In fact, I'm now cackling with glee reading the reviews of a book where that exact thing happened. I read the manuscript, loved it, knew it needed what I didn't have, sent the author to one of my favorite competitors; they had a fistfight in the office over who got it pounced on it with glee. The rest is happy publishing all around.

The other kind of referrals are the ones that start "Such and Such said this was your kind of novel" and I've not spoken to Such for five years. Such hasn't read your novel and is just trying to get you off her query pile and onto mine.

It's hard for you the querier to know which one you have, of course, but my guess is you've got the second one based on the agent's behavior.  She's "disappeared" which means she's probably trying to figure out what to say other than  form rejection. (It feels awkward to form reject a referral which is why you guys are so hot for them of course.)

Here's what to do:

Step one: withdraw the manuscript from Agent Absent. Politely of course.  I'm sure you know how to do this.  If you don't I know I've posted wording previously.

Step two: submit the manuscript to Agent BetterChoice.  At this point, there's no need to mention Agent Absent. Absent has dropped the ball here and you should NOT let that have an impact on you.

This is your career. Even if Agent Beta calls you up at midnight to spew and splutter that you are RUDE RUDE RUDE to submit this manuscript, it won't kill you, and two, you have my permission to say "horsefeathers BetaBreath."

This querying process is starting to resemble elaborate rules of court in some crazed Balkan country. This must be done, that must be done. Double space this, and make sure your font doesn't frolic on the page...yikes!

A query is a business letter. If the person to whom you are proposing a business arrangement fails to respond to your overture, and three polite follow ups, then time to move on to the next person on the list.  As long as you're polite and observe the guidelines posted on the website, you're fine.  And even if you don't and you're not: There Are No Query Police!

16 comments: said...

At least this questioner has fulls elsewhere to, so there's hope in that, as well as approaching Agent Best Choice.

Back to yesterday's post and the paint choice. Montgomery white looks like pink on my laptop. Is is it pinkish in color? If so, that ought to be calming, at least that's what they say over at Central Prison.

Either way, love it - very warm! the lamps will look even better.

Colin Smith said...

I think we can appreciate why agents like to lay down specific query guidelines: to keep the crazies away. I'm sure after hundreds of 18-point Comic Sans with kitty pictures, agents get frustrated and want to lay down the law. However, Janet's absolutely correct. Query guidelines are getting like "elaborate rules of court in some crazed Balkan country."

Keep it simple. Make the agent want to read your novel. It's as easy as that (HA!).

And while I have your attention, do you think agent manuscript wish lists sometimes sound as if the agent has plotted their dream novel and is looking for a writer to ghost write it for them? I confess, I'm a bit suspicious of these. Yes, I want to know what genres the agent specializes in. But please, let me write the novel. You may think you want a Snow White/50 Shades mash up, but maybe the idea I have is better and will knock your sox off and change your world! :)

Seriously, though (and this is where these two topics relate), there's a danger both with query guidelines and manuscript wish lists that agents give the impression that they hold the keys of the kingdom, and writers have to work to conform to the agents' whims if they want to stand a chance of making it in publishing. Such is not the case. We need to remember, without writers to write awesome, creative novels, agents wouldn't have anything to sell.

It seems I'm ragging on agents a bit, but I don't think I'm saying anything that Janet (and a number of others I can think of) wouldn't agree with.

And if Janet disagrees, you know I'll hear about it. 8-O

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

When a writer retracts a full from an agent is an email sufficient? If this agent is not responding would the writer need to send a certified letter? Maybe that is too legal.

I ask because it sounds walking on eggs. She wants to query another agent at the same agency.

Congrats on the fulls out in the reef.

@donnaeverhart the phsycology of colors - pink has a calming effect but flashy pink excites

Janet Reid said...

Angie, an email is sufficient. You don't need anything more official at this stage.

And you'll be surprised how many people reply to a withdraw after a long silence (this happens on our end too.)

Janet Reid said...

Donna, it has pinkish undertones (it's a very warm white) and it goes beautifully with light fuchsia, but it's very much not pink. I tried pink on my walls at home...not good.

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Janet, thanks.

The pink undertone is probably seppia, like inkfish. Mixed with white it looks pinkish.

Said the Cat in the hat. said...

I tilted my screen back and now it's really more beige/pink. More emphasis on beige. Love it.

I wanted to paint my office walls what was considered the new color in home decor a few years ago which was a soft gray. Some folks were even doing a dark gray with cream trim. The gray wasn't like the walls in your soon to be old office, but more of a velvety sort of gray, soft, like the underbelly of a little gray kitty.


I learned something that day. What looks gray in the store on a tile will become bluish lavender on the walls at home. I've yet to repaint it. I also learned if you want true gray, stick to the black vs blue area of "gray" in the tile samples section. :)

This must be why I work in the kitchen most days.

MB Owen said...

Colin--very interesting comment on the convergence of wishlists.

On Painted walls. I once had a mood wall. On a whim, I would paint it lipstick red, forest green, tobacco brown. I miss that wall.

jcwrites said...

"I tried pink on my walls at home...not good."

You have a home?... I thought your office was your—never mind, my bad.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Only here can a writer find out about contract info, how to query, submit, withdraw, poke, paint, love a kitty picture and admire lamps. And all of it under the watchful eye of a sloth. Gotta’ love it.
If I had more than one full out I’d already consider myself a success. Oh wait, depending on how you define the word, I am a success. Do by-lines count? I hope so because the only other thing I am success at is complaining. said...

MB Owen. A MOOD wall. I would LOVE that! I had a mood ring when I was about thirteen. Okay. Three. No need to give away my age.

Angie - flashy pink excites? I'm glad to know. I plan to go out and by flashy pink printer paper! Maybe that'll excite me on this latest head banger of a WIP.

AJ Blythe said...

Donnaeverhart, my paint chart here in Oz has a colour 'silver beige'. We had it in our old house and loved it so much we're about to repaint our current abode in same.

Cheyenne Campbell said...

I find this post most interesting. I've not had a lot of referral experience, but one that still kind of bugs me was brought to mind while reading this.

I entered a reputable agent's "contest" wherein she accepted so many queries that she would reply honestly to within a given amount of time. When this agent replied to mine, she said it sounded great but wasn't for her, and referred me to another agent within her reputable agency. The entire agency was on the top of my list, in fact, as all agents there were looking for the genres I write and I've read enough interviews and Twitter posts to feel like I could have a connection with any of them (as much as you can feel that through blog posts and tweets, of course).

Unfortunately, the agent I was referred to never replied. Not even a "not for me either, thanks" email. I don't even know if she GOT the email. I did nudge her eventually but still, nada. Whether this was just a fluke of the internet and hungry spam folders, or whether this was a deliberate choice to ignore by the 2nd agent, I'll never know, but it's left an unpleasant enough taste that I'm hesitant to query or recommend querying them to others. Unfortunate all around. But I can't help but wonder how often this DOES happen. said...

AJ Blythe, thank you! I need to check that out. Who knows - it might inspire me to finally correct the "blue/lavender" fiasco.

Liz Penney said...

I think that some of the referrals might be from clients, not other agents. Those are the ones I've used, with some success. I too have experienced the no response to fulls even after nudges, which is very puzzling. Of course if someone does enough of that, it gets around and it's not the best business image. Good thing we're not all querying one at a time. We'd be dead by the time we got an agent.

Julie.M.Weathers said...

What an interesting subject. Thanks for posting this.

I've already told the story of Diana Gabaldon's former agent Perry Knowlton. A client of his gave her a nice referral letter because he had seen her work on the lit forum and offered the referral when she started asking about how people got their agents. Knowlton, even though he was closed to submissions, responded with a "sure, send it."

Gabaldon had just started Outlander and she's a chunk writer so nothing was linear. She wrote a 26-page synopsis of what she thought the book would be, sent the chunks she had and some things she'd written for Disney.

He snatched her up.

For us mortals, I doubt that would work, but it does show the power of the referral when combined with beautiful writing.

I thought about asking for referrals at Lit Forum, but I hate asking people for favors. Some people there are staunch supporters and know my writing, but it just puts them in an awkward position if they'd prefer not to refer people. Even so, a referral does seem like the golden ticket, doesn't it?

Regarding pink was in cells, I have experience with that. Back in a former life when I was in real estate, I was heading to work and got stopped in a traffic check for insurance. I had current insurance, but I also had a warrant out for my arrest due to a ticket I forgot to pay. Off to jail I go. I was wearing black slacks, a black satin camisole, black jacket, black fedora with awesome feathers, and my black high heels. It was an election year, so there just happened to be a hooker roundup going on. Based on conversation around me, most assumed I was "new talent".

I couldn't get my husband on the phone to bail me out, so I called the office. My secretary freaked out, but did call two of the agents to come get me.

The cell they put me in was Pepto Bismol pink. I asked the deputy about it later, and he explained it was to calm people down. It just made me want to hang myself.

One of my funny agents saw my mug shot and said it was pretty good. He asked if they could buy copies. Luckily, they took the picture before cramming me in the pink cell. I hate having bad mug shots.

Anyway, yes, if I had a solid referral I would use it. I just wouldn't send it in pink font.

RE all the rules? Personally, I'm very happy to go to an agent's site and see exactly what they're looking for, how they want it submitted and expected time frames. I like order in my life.

I much prefer that to go to the site and seeing the agent graduated from this college, traveled to Transylvania as a youth, has three Corgis and nine myna birds, loves to knit with pink yarn and absolutely nothing about what they are looking for regarding submissions. I love seeing what agents are interested in. It makes them human, but let me know what you're looking for and how you want it, also.

Listings on various sites saying the agent wants fantasy isn't enough. Too many times I put an agent on the list because they are in the fantasy division, then when I check further it's urban fantasy only; a pox on epic fantasy!