Monday, November 28, 2016

Timeline for querying a second novel

Currently two agents have requested partials on a cross-cultural YA Coming of Age story.

I also have a quite different novel—about narcs in high school-- in the polishing stage right now which I can query at the end of the month.

I understand agents are busy, and that they may reject and never even get back to me. I don’t mind that. but how much time should I give the partials before I start querying the second novel?

The partial requests are 2 weeks old on the first,  and about a week on the second.


At this stage of your career you have to press ahead on YOUR timetable, not an agent's. If you wait for agents, you'll be writing geezer lit not YA by the time you hear back.

If your novel is ready to go, send it out.

What you need to be careful of is sending the second novel to people considering your first. Don't do that. 

If an agent has passed on your first novel, you can query with the second, but if the agent has not, leave them off the submission list for novel #2.

And just a bit of inside info here: all those agents and agencies that say "if you haven't heard from us in 30 days, assume it's a pass" are nowhere NEAR that caught up most of the time.  I'd give those folks at least 90 days if not 120.  I know for an ironclad fact that some of my colleagues are still working through queries from September (myself included, although I'm more caught up now than I was yesterday!)

38 comments:

french sojourn said...


Geezer lit...I resemble that remark. Nice post.

MA Hudson said...

Way to go OP! Two (almost) completed novels is a huge achievement, as are the partial requests. Very impressed!
I hope you've got some pretty gnarly spreadsheet skills to keep track of which agent has what book and when!
Good luck with it all.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Geezer lit...love that.

nightsmusic said...

Geezer lit, perfect! I think there's a market for that. ;)

Colin Smith said...

Congrats on having two novels ready to go, Opie! All the best with the partial. What Janet says about going on your own timetable is great advice. It's your career, after all, and you're not a beggar at the publishing banquet. If an agent loves novel #2 while you're waiting to hear back from the agents with novel #1 partials, the ball's in your court as to what you do. You can wait on the partials, or move ahead on the other novel. As long as you stay professional and don't burn bridges, no-one will be upset.

Geezer Lit? You mean books like, THE FAULT IN OUR STAIR LIFTS? Or LOOKING FOR VIAGRA?

*slaps wrist* :)

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Geezer lit - way under represented genre. Excellent information that can be stored under the keep writing category of the ever spinning rodent wheel.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Wow Opie, how wonderful to be polishing your second novel. And although you say they're quite different novels, it looks like they both remain within the YA category. Good luck in the query trenches.

Do we need more stellar agents for all of us writers out here? Or do we need more well-crafted writers so agents don't have to scour so hard for a good story?

Like the others, I'm intrigued with geezer lit. Sorta like Grumpy Old Men or Best Exotic Marigold Hotel?

Donnaeve said...

Colin! Haaaa! Thank you for the coffee nasal spray.


Geezer lit. Is there a hag lit?

This question pains me - plus, it's Monday. Boo.



Rose Black said...

I'm in a similar position. I had one novel out with a few full requests. One agent rejected with some great feedback and said she'd look at a revision if I addressed them. Great! I agree with her points, and I can make the revisions. I wrote to the other agents who have it, saying I'd like to withdraw and make some changes, and they all responded favourably.

But...

It's going to be a lot of work. Most of the second half needs to be scrapped and rewritten, which is going to take time. Especially with a new baby in my life.

I have another completed novel which needs a bit of editing, but not nearly as much. I don't know whether it's best to put this on hold and focus on rewriting the first one, or polish the other and put it out.And what do I say to those agents who looked at the first one in that case?

kathy joyce said...

At the Corner of Adolescents and Aging Parents; The Toilet on the Train; The Menopause Between Two Weights; The Girl with the Sagging Boobs

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Geezer Lit... HA!

Colin: HA, HA!

C. L. McCollum said...

Two weeks is definitely not much time at all on a partial request. Honestly, I have a full and a partial pending from LAST NOVEMBER with a pair of agents, and they've been responding to check ins, so they're still active requests. (Granted, it's a little frustrating that it's been a full year on one of them, but if they still want to read the MS, I'm not going to argue LOL)

I would give the agents some time to read & respond to the current MS, especially if you haven't been querying it long. Having both books out with different people can get complicated, especially if you get an offer for one and not the other. I know it's hard not to get super excited about the new shiny MS, but give the current one some time to shine in the trenches - two requests is awesome :)

claire said...

And I assume that if an agent makes an offer on the second book, Opie writes to the agents with the first book saying, "I have an offer, hurry it up"?

Congratulations Opie. Two query-ready novels! And partial requests! Are you still querying the novel in question or are you going to focus on the new one?

I've been in such a tizzy over my one ready MS that it's been a struggle just to get back to writing. And of course, all I want to write is the sequel when general advice is that it is a Bad Idea.

Craig F said...

Op, do you prefer one genre or the other? Whichever one gets to press first will define you. You can always use a pseudonym to write the other stuff but it would be nice if you could use your real name for what you wish to be known.

If you prefer writing YA you should wait a while before shopping the other. If you wish to be defined by the 21 Jump Street kind of thing then run with that.

I know that many feel the important thing is to get published. It isn't. The important thing is to be happy and joyous with what you published. If you struggled with a one off story that made it big you will have a hard time facing deadlines for that kind of thing.

Be careful what you wish for and try to make big decisions early.

Bethany Elizabeth said...

I'm just checking in today because I have a mountain of work and no time to get it done. Holiday season, am I right? Sometimes I think I'll never have time to write until I retire!

On that note, can I say that I'm jealous of OP? Two query-able novels is an awesome accomplishment! My novels are currently at thought-it-was-queryable-in-a-delusion-of-grandeur and hot-mess. Hot-unfinished-mess.

Joseph Snoe said...
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Lennon Faris said...

This is a timely post for me. I also have a full out (4.5 months now) on my first mss. I am in the finishing stages of another mss, prob. another month (maybe two) and it will be ready.

Before today, I thought it would be bad form to query two books at once (even to different agents).

WHAT IF you get an offer of rep, either for Book 1 or 2. Do you email EVERYBODY with the 'offer to rep' nudge, but explain to the agents with your other book that it is for another book? To my naive-to-publishing eyes that feels duplicitous.

Claire B. said...

Congrats OP! And thanks for the response Janet! Not only for the timeline answer, but for the inside info about query time frames. I usually write off an agent's interest even BEFORE their stated time frame (if they say it's no after 4 weeks, I figure it's no after 2!) It's rare that I've been surprised and had an agent request something later than expected. I'm obviously jaded. Best to just keep writing and querying and not think too much, I guess.

Steve Stubbs said...

Very interesting post. I would never have thought of it being OK to query two different books to two different agents at the same time. So this is very informative.

I wonder if you have any thoughts about the market for Young Adult Women’s Novels (YAWN). I know a lot of people are writing YAWN books, most of which probably don’t interest Young Adult Women, or much of anyone else, for that matter. But I never have seen an agent advertise that if someone has a book that is a real YAWN they would like to see it. That’s not to say they are not getting lots of them. But they don’t ask for them. They all seem to be interested in crass commercial fiction. If I did not know better I would think they were in it for the money. I do not think that, of course, because I do know better.

If some of your readers have a real YAWN-er, where would you like to tell them to go, and what would you like to tell them to do with it?

This is just a general interest question. I don’t know anything about the YAWN marker, so am not trying to write a YAWN myself.

Colin Smith said...

Lennon: That's an interesting question. Since Janet may not be able to supply the correct answer soon, let me venture a thought:

IF the two novels are in the same category/genre (e.g., YA Contemporary), then I'd say notify agents who have either book 1 or book 2.

IF the two novels are in different categories/genres (e.g., book 1 is YA Contemporary, and book 2 is adult horror), I'd say notify only the agents with the book in question. HOWEVER, you may want to notify all if you don't plan on having more than one agent. In the event you get an agent for the horror novel while waiting on agents for the YA Contemporary, you should probably notify those agents that you have secured representation for a horror novel, but you are still interested in pursuing representation for your YA novel.

All that said, on second thought, I think I would notify them all. Sure, it sounds cool to have multiple agents, but it seems more trouble than it's worth for a debut novelist. Perhaps it would be best to go with the novel that gets an agent and pull the other novel. You can then show that novel to your new agent in the hope she can sell it. Alternatively, she might recommend an agent (perhaps within her agency) who might be interested in representing it.

That's what I think. :)

Timothy Lowe said...

Everyone's journey is different, as is everyone's timeline. The only thing I'd add is to be sure the second is really ready. By the time I'm finishing a novel, the one previous has been shelved, at least in my mind (clears the head to think about the new project). Of course, with some agents' response times, there can be times when I have more than one full MS out. In those cases it's usually been more than eight months on the first I've already typically counted it out, at least in my head.

Again, my experiences - everyone's journey is different! Best of luck!

Lennon Faris said...

Thanks, Colin. They are very similar (urban fantasy YA vs. light fantasy/ contemp. fiction YA). I guess clarity is the key. I can't fathom having more than one agent, either!

Cheryl said...

Steve, do people actually call it YAWN? I've always heard it called New Adult.

Unless you're being facetious. In that case, never mind.

Jamie McCullum said...

Thanks everyone and Janet for your useful comments and encouragement.

That's a plan then: Query agents for the second novel not previously queried, and those whom I have rejections from. Give the yet-to-respond agents all the time they need.

I also followed Janet's advice in an earlier post about querying a lot: I queried 197 agents (yep I did my research) in a murderous 3-day marathon.

To date: 2 partial requests, 43 rejections, and 152 yet to answer. Thank God for Query Tracker and Publisher's Market Place, and Query Shark where I learned to write my query.

If I missed answering anyone's questions I'll check again and be sure to.
To Craig F: Op, do you prefer one genre or the other?

I actually prefer commercial adult fiction, but in these books, the protagonists are under 21, so to me that's the only difference between YA and Adult. I read YA in high school, but not really now, with the exception of the first book of Hunger Games. I would be interested your opinions on what you all think YA is now. From the titles I've checked out recently, it's not The Outsiders anymore.

Thanks again for sharing your ideas and comments: it'll take me a couple of days to absorb all your great advice.
Best, J McCullum

Julie Weathers said...

I'm late checking in. To the OP, congratulations. Having two novels in query stage is a remarkable achievement. Good job.

I cannot agree with Janet more. Don't take the 30 days as gospel. I've heard back from agents long after their stated deadlines. I put expected reply date on my spread sheet, but I allow six months before I move to the red column, which is the no interest or rejected.

I actually have an old geezer lit lurking around here somewhere. That's where Martha and Tilley, my two over-sexed old ladies came from who appear in short stories from time to time.


Joseph Those thoughts were exactly why I couldn't read Dupree. I made the mistake of reading an article about a little boy who was killed by his step mother that involved a bathtub. I bought this trailer over another because it had an antique clawfoot bathtub that I could just envision soaking my poor back in. Now, all I think about is that poor little boy every time I take a bath and it drives me insane. I detest taking a bath now.

I confess, I am weak-minded. I wish I weren't.

Lennon

I would notify everyone. I had two agents at the same time in a previous life, but it was because one repped only children's books and the others didn't rep children's books at all. I would think if the genres are close at all one agent would want to rep all your work.

Jamie

Apparently I don't have a clue what YA is even though I have friends who write it, Helene Boudreau and her Mermaid series and Linda Gerber and her Death by series. You'd think I'd understand what YA is. The last agent who gave me feedback on my epic fantasy said it was really a YA and needed some revisions to make it more suitable for the genre.

Hunger Games, The Lightning Thief, Divergent, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, Glass Throne are the ones I'm most familiar with recently.

Julie Weathers said...

And I am totally depressed. Someone posted on facebook she finished a 53,000 word book in eight days. It's time for me to either block that woman, stay off facebook, or get some anti-depressants.

LynnRodz said...

Why, oh why, didn't I skip the comments like I usually do? No, I had to read them today, and why didn't someone put a spoiler alert! Yes, I'm looking at you Joseph Snoe! I was saving Dixie to be read over the holidays and now I know too much of the story. Now I'm depressed like Julie, but for a totally different reason.

Joseph Snoe said...

Julie
For what it's worth, I have a hard time reading 53,000 words in 8 days.

Joseph Snoe said...

I'm sorry, LynnRodz.

There's more to the book than that.

MA Hudson said...

LynnRodz - I kinda gleaned what was going to happen to Dixie ahead of time but that didn't detract from the story. Although, as I said to Donna, there were parts where I had to half squint/half skim to get through, Dixie was so engaging that I couldn't put the book down until I finished it.

Julie Weathers said...

Lynn You had to know it was coming from the description of the book before it was published while Donna was talking about it. That's why I never ordered it.

LynnRodz said...

MA Hudson, thank you. I had an inkling after being on a conference call on FB with Donna and a number of other readers, but I didn't want to read any reviews or anything. I had decided to wait (it hasn't been easy) to read her book over the Christmas holidays as a gift to myself.

Joseph Snoe, I'll look at it this way, sometimes we can't help but open a present before Christmas just to take a peek.

LynnRodz said...
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Donnaeve said...

Well. Damn. I sure hate this happened! Too late now.

RachelErin said...

Jamie - YA is more than the age of the protagonist, although the protagonists are under eighteen. It has a lot to do with voice and perspective. Some ways people commonly define it include: having a teen-centered perspective, coming to terms with your place in world (as opposed to your place in the family, which is MG), being immediate about adolescence instead of retrospective or nostalgic.

So many adults enjoy YA the lines are getting blurrier (crossover!), but I'd say they're blurrier in fantasy than contemporary. Dixie Dupree is an example of a book with a young protagonist that is not middle grade or young adult (and not strictly because of content - big issues come up in books for younger kids). It's about a kid, but not for a kid.

If you think your book might be YA, I'd read a lot of current YA and find out. You'll start to see patterns, and get a sense of the voice.

LynnRodz said...

Julie, I purposely avoided reading about the book until I could read it myself. I did read Donna's first sentence of each chapter every Friday, but she made sure nothing was revealed. From what I gleaned, I had my suspicions, but there's a big difference between suspecting something and knowing for sure.

Jamie McCullum said...
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Jamie McCullum said...

Rachel-- Thanks. My narc novel is going to be YA, and I'll analyze my story using the points you made about what YA is. This is the first book I've written in first person. I like simple past third person restricted best. I know having a convincing, consistent unique voice is paramount.

My main hesitation about writing YA was just what you said eloquently: It's about a kid, but not for a kid. I can't do that though. If I write YA, I'm writing for 15- to18 years olds. What story would these conscripted readers find interesting? If I'm going to write for forty year olds, then I'll just write an adult novel. So, I might fail here, but it's a good story, and even though the story takes place in contemporary time, every forty year old can remember their high school lives, and will enjoy reading it... at least I hope so, but I'm definitely writing about a young adult for other young adults.