Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Query Question: editor interest but no agent

I recently parted ways with my first agent (amicably, of course) and have had requests from editors at mid-size and larger houses to see my future work. I have a manuscript that has been polished and is ready for submission. Should I send to those editors while I'm querying, or should I wait to see if I can secure an agent before doing so?

Don't send your work to editors before securing an agent.  If you do so, you'll find getting an agent is MUCH harder because you've trampled all over the crime scene and contaminated the evidence. 

When an agent takes on a project, she puts her knowledge and expertise to work on your behalf. That might mean revisions to this "polished" manuscript and it certainly means a tailored submission list.  All you know are the editors who've said they'd like to see you work. What your agent will tell you is which editors SHOULD see your work.

Don't let your impatience get the better of you.  I posted about this recently but it bears repeating: I'm not keen on stepping in to a project after it's started, and once you've sent your book to a publisher, you've started.


Anonymous said...

I can understand how a writer who's work strikes a chord with editors would want to make this leap and send it right on in, but given the Sharkly One's advice, and the knowledge agent's have in soooo many aspects of pub'ing, this would be akin to climbing K2 - without a Sherpa.

Elissa M said...

I would get an agent and then share the info about which editors have expressed interest. The agent may or may not feel these editors are right for your project, but it will give her additional insight that can only help when she starts contacting editors.

Fatboy said...

damn sure not trying to refute her sharkness but, if an editor at a large pub house wanted to read ms and I wasn't agented, I'd be real tempted to let them.

Worse case it's kicked back hopefully w/constructive criticism, best case they want to do a deal. Then I'd get an agent and I would think that search would be much easier w/interest from a large pub house.

Anastasia Stratu said...
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Anastasia Stratu said...
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Anastasia Stratu said...

The Imaginary Response

'Oh, holy sharks. Fine,' scoffed Janet. 'I'll join your project. O.K. Bye.'

She put her phone down and called for another scotch with a twitch of her scented fin. The barkeep sniffed delicately. What was the Query Shark, he wondered? Lady Dior or Egoiste by Chanel?

'I said I'll have another one of these.'

He flinched. Her voice was... like her domain. Deep.

'Sorry, Miz Reed, coming right up!' As he tried to steady his tattooed hands, golden-brown liquid spilled onto the mahogany counter top.

'Relax', said Sharko. 'My diet consists of writers exclusively.'

The lad paled. She smiled, displaying her teeth, newly grown after the last shedding. The anticipation of his tremulous 'I'm... er... working on a novel, too,' was sweet. So sweet."

I call these micro-stories Ouch.Henry style. And no, I didn't misspell.

Janet Reid said...

Fatboy, the worst case scenario is hardly that. It's that you've now removed that entire publishing house most likely from the list of places an agent can send work.

And it's not all that much easier to get an agent with a deal in hand. I know that seems weird, but it's very true.

Fatboy said...

'Fatboy, the worst case scenario is hardly that. It's that you've now removed that entire publishing house most likely from the list of places an agent can send work.'

I don't understand. Can you explain why?

Kirsten said...

This post couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. I'm hoping haven’t made this mistake already.
I was elated and surprised to find that I took second place in my very first writing contest. That was quickly followed by a request for a full of the manuscript from one of the contest judges. As a beginning writer my default response is yes, so I agreed to provide it, even though I’m in the midst of some major (and necessary!) revisions. I’m thinking she will get back to me on that, and agree to a December 1 submission date.
But now I’m stuck! I can see that sending out the manuscript at all would be a mistake, and I’ve given my word to let her see it. Is it okay to let her do that, when in all likelihood she will turn it down anyway? Or have I already made a grievous mistake?
I didn’t think I needed a shark at my side so soon! (But I’m still happy about my contest results. :) )

Tristan said...

The take I have on this (based on reading and attending a writer's conference that covered this) is that as a new writer you're unlikely to get a good deal going direct.

An agent is the guardian between you and those want to sell your work.
They're a massive value add in negotiations, chasing up feedback, targeting the right people to see your work etc.

Anonymous said...

Fatboy, it works like this -

Editor sees your manuscript.

Editor says yes and publishes, OR, editor says, not for me and passes it to another editor in her house, OR editor says, not for our publisher and passes it back to you.

So if you don't get a yes, that means the entire publishing house has turned you down and you can't have an agent submit to them later.

An agent is much more likely to be able to phone the editor, and have a conversation like "well, I think she could tighten that up a bit and yeah, maybe also beef up that subplot--let me talk to the writer before you show it to anyone else."