Monday, October 23, 2017

"For special friends of Rick's, a special discount"

Dear Majestic Shark

About 3 years ago, I sent some agents queries for my novel - Novel A. After getting a lot of rejections, I parked it and worked on it off and on for a while.

I'm now querying Novel B (only related to Novel A in that they're both YA fantasy). However, I've found some agents who I didn't query with Novel A. Novel A's in a better position than it was 3 years ago, and I still have a lot of love for it. So, do I follow up on a rejection on Novel B with a new query for Novel A with these agents? If so, do I reference the fact I'm clogging their inbox (I am also likely to have a Novel C ready by the end of the year/early next), or treat it as a whole new query? Are these hamster-wheel questions?

As always, I appreciate your sharp-toothed advice.


The only thing you follow up with is "thank you for your time and consideration."

It drives me sort of nutso when the response to a pass is "oh you didn't want B, but here, how about C?"

The reason it drives me nutso is cause it seems like you're not querying me as part of a thoughtful strategy but just cause you're in my inbox and on my radar. These Not B, But C kinds of offers tend to be not-very-good queries too. They tend to be impromptu pitches. In other words, pitches NOT honed and polished, and certainly NOT compelling.

Time management also mandates that once I've read your manuscript I need to turn my attention to the other people who've also been waiting just as long as you just did. In other words, you'd be at the back of the line again, which means you DO have time to polish and perfect a query, and if I am interested I'll remember you fondly (we hope.)

If you're querying Novel B now, you can certainly query Novel A but LATER. And with its own query. You might reference that the agent read Novel B, but you don't have to. I generally remember the people who've had requested fulls with me.

And if I forget, my address book remembers


13 comments:

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Looking at that photo image: oh. my. goodness. Talk about organization! And...I want to know who (what?) Kale tangoed with!

Opie: You are on a roll with your writing. Along with that prolific-ness, have you also had crit partners or beta readers to help you view your stories and/or queries from an outside-point-of-view? You didn't mention whether NOvel A was rejected as a query or a full/partial reads. Best of luck in the query trenches again.

Colin Smith said...

I treat each round of querying as if it's the first time. I don't reference previous query experiences, or previous novels queried. Indeed, I don't expect the agent to remember a novel they turned down... unless it goes on to become a best seller... bwaahahhahhaaa!!! Sorry... it's still early for me... :)

Seriously, though, I'm also a little curious as the short time frame between novels here. Of course it's possible to have novels revised, edited, beta-ed, and ready to go in a matter of months. But I haven't known that to be many people's experience. Even authors as prolific as Stephen King and Lee Child only manage one or two novels a year. And they have the publisher's best editors at their disposal as soon as they're ready. Be sure you're not rushing into querying, Opie. I know the query trenches are exciting and adventurous, but bear in mind you're shaping your publishing career here.

All the best, Opie! :)

Colin Smith said...

... at the short time frame...

I need more tea... :)

Colin Smith said...

Lisa: Clearly the kale tangoed with Janet. She requested it, after all. ;)

I am reasonably well aware of most of Mr. Buttonweezer's works, but I'm afraid this one escapes me. Sounds like one of a handful of bodice-rippers he wrote. Well, I say bodice, but on Carkoon it's more like "exo-skeletal armor plating"... with ribbons. Depending on the fair maiden's species. Well, I say fair maiden, but that's a really loose translation in an attempt to keep these comments PG-15. :)

E.M. Goldsmith said...

It is early indeed. Colin has the right of this. Every venture into the query Abyss should be treated as the first time.

I do wonder about my huge backlog of half-done, almost-done, and needs a bit of tweaking books - about 36 all told - do you mention all of those on “The Call”? Or just the ones that need a bit of tweaking. I love all 36 stories and can see everyone of them developed into publishable form (if I had Time in a Bottle).

Ok- I must go mainline some caffeine. My delusions of grandeur are getting out of control.

Lennon Faris said...

OP, that's awesome you have so many novels written. Did you get any feedback on Novel A? I've been in your place before (almost word for word!) and thought I edited Novel A significantly enough to send out again. Guess what? More rejections for me.

Looking back I can see that I hadn't. Reading more, getting industry eyes on it, and plain old time made me see lots of potholes I just didn't before.

kathy joyce said...

We need a little bookish cartoon shark that swims around and sweetly sings, "Just keep writing, just keep writing...." Good luck OP. Every book and revision leads closer to success.

John Davis Frain said...

It stands to reason that a lot of writers will reach this point. Your first ms with a chance (after your million words) goes out and while you're waiting on fulls, you pen your next.

As new agents pop up, you essentially have a freshly revised A and a new-to-the-game B. Nano comes along, and here comes C.

Your position makes perfect sense, Opie. And the sharkly advice you got makes even more. Thanks for paving the way. Many of us are likely a few exits behind you, but on the same road.

Megan V said...

Colin—I'm not as worried about the short time frame between novels. Every writer has their own working style. Some write multiple projects at once and split working on revisions. Opies project A has had at least 3 years of off and on revision, during which time they've developed Novel B and hav probably been doing some work on Novel C, which they admit won't be ready for another year. That's 4 years. Depending how long that initial draft takes (for some it's a matter of a month or two, for some it's more than a year) and then revisions (again based on the writer) OP doesn't seem overly hasty IMHO.

As to talking about Novel A in a query for Novel B, I'd say there's an exception to the rule. I know for a fact that some YA agents specifically tell authors they want to know in the query if they've requested* previous projects from them. (note that's requested projects, not queried projects) As always, it's important to research and follow the guidelines of the specific agent you're sending to. But other than that. Leave it out.

Craig F said...

Assuming Novel A wasn't total dreck the first time it was let off it's leash, I can only see the layout as a positive.

I think it puts agents slightly at ease to know that a writer has more than one book in them. I also think three years is a nice interval to sit fallow before going back to hoeing rows.

Good LuckOP, I'm not too far behind you

Hope this one didn't get timed out. I just had a FEMA rep at my door. The problem is that I didn't register a loss with them.

Megan V said...

Just saw Liz P's news in the young agent small agency comment trail and wanted to add a huge Congrats to Liz on signing with an agent!!

The Sleepy One said...

Megan V, for what it's worth, when I queried, I only mentioned previous requests by agents if the agent passed on my project, but told me to query them in the future.

MA Hudson said...

The Sleepy One - that makes sense to me; only follow up if the agent invites you to.
In the OP’s case, it doesn’t sound like they’ve had any requests for fulls, so all the more reason to make each query stand alone, and adequately spaced apart.
But with all these completed novels, I’m sure it won’t be to long before OP gets published. Keep up the good work. You’re nearly there!