Saturday, February 28, 2015

Query question: former agent/when to reveal

My former agent and I recently parted company on good terms. Without going into details, we inherited each other when his partner left the business. and weren't really a good fit.

I am currently completing a non-fiction proposal, which was not completed at the time when we said "bonne chance and farewell" and which he did not send out. Do I mention previous representation in the query or bring it up later in the process?

You do not need to mention a former agent for a new project UNLESS you've been published before.

If you have been published, you'll need to mention the earlier works, the publisher and that the agent who handled the deal for you left the business.

If you haven't been published, you don't need to mention any previous agent relationships since this project did not go out on submission.

Of course, IF the project had been shopped, you need to say so, and by whom. This is when you need the submission list and editor's replies. On some occasions, I can see holes in the submission strategy and figure out a better plan. (That's NOT often at all, sorry)

Make sure you update your website if you have the old agent's name on it.  That's one of the easiest ways for me to discover that someone has been represented/published before if they don't mention it in the query. And yes, I DO look. If I'm interested in reading your manuscript (or in this case proposal) I do some sniffing around ahead of time to see if there are any bumps in the road.


Anonymous said...

We must have a bunch of Saturday morning sleepyheads.

I don't really have anything to add to this other than the advice in the last paragraph about updating websites, personal info etc.

Recently (and again) I've gone out to investigate a commenter's other information only to find nothing. No website. No blog. No presence whatsoever that I can tell. I wanted to see read about their work, and when I hit their name in the comment section, I got that blogger profile that says something like "Blogger profile since *month/year*. That was it.

I know QOTKU has banged this drum before..., but even if she's not the one sniffing around to see if there've been "bumps in the road," sometimes the rest of us are curious and want to get to know YOU a little better. See where you're at in your writing journey. Read some of your stuff, or maybe read your blog if you have one.

If you don't have an online presence and that's a choice,(although I believe I hear QOTKU saying Wednesday, Thursday, Friday! over that) just an email would be good to see. You never know who might be trying to reach out.

Dena Pawling said...

Dear Ms. Not-my-first-choice literary agent:

I was previously represented by the awesome and multi-talented Agent 007 who, despite my brilliance and blinding good looks, unfortunately has decided to take early retirement to the south of France. He swears this decision has nothing to do with my personality.

After he beat a hasty retreat, I was left dangling with his minion who, I am sorry to say, leaves much to be desired. Therefore, I've resurrected my list of second-choice literary agents, found your name listed under “minimally-competent”, and decided to bless you with the opportunity to represent me.

I've been previously published [Publish America] in fiction, but now have a non-fiction proposal regarding the culinary delights of lima beans. This work will explore the history of lima beans, the several varieties of beans, how to grow them for best results, and proper preparation and display. The book will also include several recipes which have been sampled and blessed by that great lima bean critic, Mr. Colin Smith, who is currently in exile on the Island of Carkoon but when large cruise ships pass by, he has intermittent internet connection and can be reached for a blurb of recommendation.

Please ignore all of the naysayers who liken lima beans to unpalatable unmentionables. Those folks will be wowed away from the dark side when they read my brilliant book.

This book is my first non-fiction project. I currently have a large platform consisting of 14 Facebook “likes” [I have a large family] and 36 twitter followers [all of them trying to help me market my wonderful books]. My blog, which is about the secret underground lifestyle of moles, receives between 0 and 12 hits per day and shows I am talented in a wide variety of subject areas.

I will telephone you tomorrow to arrange a time to sign the contract.

Karen McCoy said...

Further proof that sharks have an incredible sense of smell.

Megan V said...

Good morning donnaeverhart! While I cannot speak for the rest, I have to admit I am a bit torpid this morning.

Good morning Dena! As ever, you put a smile on my face with a hilarious comment. :)

I always find it interesting how many people advocate for an online presence. Until recently,I've been a lurker. I followed blogs, twitters, and more without commenting (for years). I didn't like the idea of drawing attention to myself or my writing journey. Part of it was because I didn't like the thought of someone sniffing around. While I didn't believe I would commit a faux pas, I was worried that upon finding fault in me as a person(and I have many many faults) people would say 'what a weirdo this writer is' or 'look at how poorly they manage their online affairs' and cast me back out into the sea that is the internet. In this way, I think having an online presence reflects a strong sense of security and I don't advocate having a presence unless it's something that the writer is personally ready for. That said, I do think posting an e-mail is a good start!

Unknown said...

We should rename the road to publication. Something like the trail of tears with toil, bumps, twists, joy, weird travelers, greed, grief, more bumps, overly much fretting. Happy Trails. BYOB.

The end.

Megan V said...

MB- Sounds like a plan. Anyone willing to go halfsies on that BYOB? :)

Colin Smith said...

Donna: That's what Saturdays are for when you're forced into being a morning person to earn a living.

Our writer friend's situation is another good reminder that the path to publication is not always straight and easy. I can't begin to imagine (and hope I never will have to imagine) how frustrating it must be to have secured an agent after months of querying only for that relationship to dissolve for one reason or another, leaving you back at square one. I suspect our friend hopes the fact that s/he did have an agent at one point would be a good selling point when s/he queries again. I certainly would hope that. If mentioning a previous agent relationship that parted amicably would make a prospective agent take a second look at my work, heck yes I'd mention it. BUT that's me. And QOTKU knows best.

As to keeping contact info up to date, Amen and Amen to Donna's comments. Now, it seems my site is down at the moment. But you'll be pleased to know I've contacted my ISP so hopefully it'll be fixed soon, Mum. :)

You really ought to have some kind of Internet/social media presence if you're engaging in activities that put you in contact with other people (e.g., commenting on blogs, or trying to get published). They're free, and most are easy to set up.

Oh, and let me take this opportunity to thank those who have found my FB account and sent me Friend requests. A word about that. I use FB so very rarely (really only to check Janet's FB page!), that I only accept Friend requests from people I know in the flesh (e.g., family, or people from church). If-and-when I get published, I'll probably convert my FB account to a professional page and use it more often. Until then, Tweet me, email me, or find me here (see my Blogger profile for contact deets). :)

Anonymous said...

Well, good morning, Megan, and all!

Megan, I can understand that reluctance... and it's why I put in that comment "by choice," b/c I do understand some just don't want to put themselves out there just yet, if at all.

I love having an online presence via a blog and Twitter, although there are times I wish I'd remained a bit more incognito. I remember when I decided to get into this writerly thing full time I was so eager to do ALL the things suggested, I immediately built the blog and signed up on Twitter. I then anxiously awaited someone to say "Oh, and budding writers need to also do this!" I've slowly seen my presence footprint grow. Best of all, I've met so many nice people/writers, and that in of itself has been worth it.

Ditto MB Owen.

Dena - you're a hoot!

Anonymous said...

Colin! We commented over each other over each other, and ditto what you said about FB. I too have a FB account, and really, just ditto, ditto, ditto, b/c mine is also personal, but one day... I hope to change it to DONNA EVERHART, AUTHOR. :)

Still, if anyone wants to find/friend me, I'm already connected to TLC, QOTKU, frenchsojourn, and a couple other writers who don't visit here..., (can you imagine!) so it's morphing.

Colin Smith said...

Megan: I understand where you're coming from on the whole social media thing. The thing is, it's a different world these days. The era of the writer as a literary hermit are well and truly gone. People expect to be able to connect with you as a real person. Warts and all. Of course, online you can choose which warts you want to show. But a blog is an excellent way to engage potential future readers, connect with people, and show off your writing chops. You don't have to make your online presence all about your publishing journey (expedition, trek through the Amazonian jungle). You can talk about anything you care about. There are some great examples within this very blog. Dena relates interesting and funny lawyer stories. Diane's (DLM) is like a public journal, where she shares stories from work, pictures of Gossy, touching family anecdotes, and sometimes updates on her writing and querying. I used to blog about writing a lot, but I don't so much now. There are no rules to doing it right. Like querying, there are some best practice guidelines. But no-one who blogs is a perfect person. Just be the kind of person online that you'd like to meet in person.

OK, I think I've used my word count for the week. :)

DLM said...

I've actually worked hard on the content in my blog - reading author blogs in which they discuss NOTHING but their research (I'm histfic), and at great length, but only every few months or so, is not engaging to me, so I have several streams of content. Archaeology, historical costume and culture, collections of links on writing/history/the cultural landscape, and yeah, perhaps more personal stuff than is directly germane, but usually circles back to writing or my work in some way.

That last touching family post came away with a LOT of blood. Perhaps the hardest thing I've ever written; I could not edit it, and still can't read it yet. The blog is emerging from that, but I got lost for a week or so after posting that.

Posting pics of the pets, though - that's not personal. Gossamer the Editor Cat and Penelope the Publishing Pup are TOTALLY professional content. :)

I do click pretty much everyone's profiles too, though, and if content doesn't date back a couple of years I'm likely to bookmark and peek in from time to time. AND, being a Collection link whore, I try to share all y'all's content that captures my attention. I comment less often, but do try to let people know I'm around.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Oh good. There's more people in the space now.

MB Owen: erm.... NOT trail of tears. Sorry, (and I have presumed you meant no offense) but working with an Antiracism Team in my paid dayjob has sensitized me to certain words and phrases...

But a title for our travails as you suggest. How does TRAIL of the GNASHING TEETH sound? Having only a WIP and no novel, I haven't shed tears (except for my character's plights) but I do get frustrated. Or PATH of the ARGHHHS?

Dena: Love your imagination and humor. Wish I had some of that aplomb!

Donna and Megan: I also do not have an online presence. Part of the reason is my paid dayjob has a webpage I try to keep updated (photo galleries? urgh.) and if I have a personal blog, what will I write about? My dayjob and writing fiction integrate in my head and heart yet sometimes should NOT intersect on facebook (yeah, yeah, I know, that's what privacy/group settings are for. Another learning hurdle). Will I allow my dayjob and fiction to intersect on a blog? Until I sort that, I'll stick with writing comments.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

And in the meantime, as I was trying to compose my first comment, Colin and Diane have added to the post about online presence. It's good to hear all of these

DLM said...

Lisa B, thank you for saying that about "trail of tears" - I thought about commenting and then got all wrapped up in ME ME ME ME ME.

Unknown said...

Lisa, I was aware of the Native American inference and did pause above the keyboard. I should have paused longer. What happened to the Indians was a travesty...I meant no offense.

Tears; yes. Trail; yes. Not together.

Sam Mills said...

The question of internet transparency is a thorny one! I've hemmed and hawed many times about how accessible I want to be (everybody has those folks in their past they'd rather never hear from again... or is that just me??) and whether life would be easier with a pseudonym.

For various reasons I have my public records on lockdown, but I still scout "find this person!" sites now and then to see what information is leaking out (and then I berate less security-conscious family members for blithely feeding everything into Facebook).

I'm a couple years away from querying (I hope!) so I'm trying to feel out my online comfort zone in the meantime. Right now my middle road is a Twitter and a public blog. It's clear which very large California county I live in, but I'm careful not to give any neighborhood or workplace identifiers, or to identify the other people in my life by more than first names. Thorny!

Anonymous said...

I mostly lurk, but I'm an everyday blogger.

DLM, I get what you're say about some posts come away with a lot of blood. I've been there.

Long term planning has helped me get back up on my blog horse. Four days a week, I write topic-based posts. One day, I post a photo. One day, I post an excerpt. One day, I write a journal-type post for the past week. I keep everything under 350 words. It works for me.

I don't do Facebook. I Tweet a little. I like to click over from the comments to check out other blogs.

I love Colin's advice, "No-one who blogs is a perfect person." It's really helped me to just put the post out there and let it go. I changed the purpose of my blog. It used to be to follow that "I need a internet presence to be a writer" thing. Now, I blog as a creative exercise. I think my writing has improved. My attitude about my work has definitely benefited from blogging.

OK. I'll crawl back into my lurker's cave now. Thanks to everyone posting comments here. You are all so witty, and you make me think about Janet's posts in ways I'd never consider on my own.

Anonymous said...

That should read, you say. Not, you're say. Oops. Letting it go, now.

Dena Pawling said...

I clicked on a few names here, and saw a nice website, a nice blogger page, and several bare pages with just "on blogger since..." I clicked on my own name and got a mishmash of random blog posts. I wish I was more computer savvy. I'd love to be able to figure out how to do stuff.

I mostly lurk. I do post the occasional random comment here and on a few other sites, but nothing to establish a "presence". Part of that is because I guard what little time I have. But I know I need to "get myself out there" a little more, if nothing else to build name recognition.

At least I try to keep my blog current. Linking it here to my name is currently beyond me, but at least people can find it if they google me. Almost everyone at my RWA meetings says I need to set up a Facebook account, but I have a personal account and I never use it except for checking on others [like Janet]. I HATE Facebook. So I'm putting that particular recommendation on semi-permanent hold, and just doing those things I don't hate, like a blog and twitter.

Sam - I've never posted under my real name, because you can google my real name and find my employer's address and telephone number [required by the California State Bar]. I work for a small firm and I'm sure my employer wouldn't be that keen on having the limited staff fielding the calls from all my adoring fans :)

Googling my real name will also result in a few sites where people complain about attorneys who have evicted them. Those are fun [not].

One of these days, I'm sure I'll receive an email from someone who will write "I checked on the State Bar website and your name isn't listed so you're a LIAR and you've made up all these stories." To which I'll possibly respond "Yes, you found me out. I'm a liar. In fact, I want to lie for a living, which is why I'm writing fiction."

I know that for those who are computer savvy, it isn't too hard to connect the names, so eventually I'm sure I'll be found out.

But since when does the public believe attorneys are honest, anyway?

DLM said...

Sam Mills, I spent enough years in regulated industries and IT that I am also really careful about PII (personally identifiable information). I don't even use first names - but anyone who reads my blog can figure out who my brother is online. It would take a small amount of triangulation to identify my city. I don't EVER name my employers, though it's out there. My standard for content is that anyone I know - coworker, aunt, mom, or nieces, should be able to read it without anger or embarrassment.

I blog and Tweet, but will never FaceBook due to the utterly indefensible security issues, and the fact that FB is at last losing its grip and is no longer "essential" for anyone seeking to create a public profile. I am astoundingly easy to find, and indeed my very first love once posted a comment on my blog - but that was the entire extent of it, and those people I've spent years losing touch with don't seem to care to crop up. My honesty is real, but very very selective, though I try not to make that obvious. I won't even disclose my birthday online, and ask others not to, because that's actually a datum that can be used.

It's a tricky balance indeed, and I write things that have a sense and appearance of being highly personal - BUT I don't put anything out there that is likely to cause me distress down the road (or anyone I love either). Any search for Diane Major will find me no problem. But it'll take more dedication to find those I know or to actually affect me.

Jenz said...

Twitter helped me find my lost dog last weekend. My husband's Facebook network came through a short time later.

In both cases, people spotted a Craigslist ad for a found dog in our neighborhood and alerted us to it. When you lose a pet, you find there's a MASSIVE amount of sites and info to wade through, so having help is really huge.

I've also gotten paid freelance work from people I met on Twitter, and I used it to get in-the-moment updates when my daughter was in Hawaii during the tsunami scare a few years ago.

It takes time and effort to build an online network. Do it. It's worth it. You don't have to be in all places, pick what works for you.

LynnRodz said...

When I first started blogging years ago, I use to post at least 4 or 5 times a week. (Nothing about writing, just random things I was interested in.) Now I'm lucky if I write something twice a month. I don't know if having an online presence with hardly any activity is worse than having no presence at all. Worse than that is posting at 3 or 4 in the morning (like I did recently) just to get something on there. My advice is, don't do it. You wake up the next morning and go to your site and wonder who in the hell took over your blog. You couldn't possibly have written that, you say. Well, yes, yourtired4inthemorningselfdid, that's who! As Megan V said, sometimes it's better not to have yourself out there for all to see.

Anonymous said...

Well. Here's an oldie but goodie.

Anyone who's been out here reading comments long enough knows I Googled myself once and found out I was dead.

And second go round, about a year later, I was a convict.

Not sure how I could have died then committed a crime, but there you go. There's a story for you.

In all seriousness, this is one reason it's helpful to have a way to find the real you via Twitter, LinkedIn, FB, blog, whatever.


Anonymous said...

LynnRodz, Your blog is lovely! I wish I my yourtired4inthemorningself was that good.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Hey, some of us have to work. Early Saturday sux but it pays the bills, almost. Okay back to work will read all your day-off comments later.

AJ Blythe said...

I have a blog, where I post about writing and other things. I have a twitter account, although I'm more of a random user there at the moment. I don't use my real surname anywhere (although there are a lot of people out there with my real name, so better to use my less common pen name!).

I don't do FB (for security reasons like DLM).

I have no idea what happens when you click my name from a post, so once I've posted this I'll click through and see :)

As a side note, I'm having major computer dramas and it would appear my hard drive is at 'imminent failure' (hence my sporadic comments of late - my computer is deciding when I am allowed to play).

I've spent the week doing back-ups of my back-ups. I'm a tad paranoid. But a timely reminder to make sure you regularly back-up, or use a cloud, just in case!

DLM said...

Heh - I don't cloud for the same reason I don't FB, but a good, large external hard drive is fairly cheap and can go from one device to another as they reach "that" age ..

LynnRodz said...

Thank you, Elisabeth, I really appreciate your kind words! I have to admit the next day I went back in and changed things around, so you're reading my edited version. (Believe me, the first draft was not good.)

Colin Smith said...

OK... my blog's back up. *sigh* There was a plug-in failure. Not sure if it's the theme or something else. Anyway, I'm back. :)

Karen McCoy said...

I use my blog to interview authors and promote their work, which led to a group blog that I contribute to every other week. In juggling two blogs, I've learned to just refer to the group one when I post there, instead of posting new content to both blogs within one week. Since then, the balance has been easier to uphold.

I'm trying to limit my Facebook time, and Twitter is too unruly for me to use regularly.

I love the cloud, and use it all the time, but when the internet went out here in Northern AZ a few days ago, some of my cloud content was inaccessible for a few hours. Since then, I've saved a hard copy as well as a cloud one.

Mostly, I try to remember that my writing comes first, because without it, my platform accounts for nil.

Colin Smith said...

Speaking of backups, I'm still wary of the cloud. It's a great idea, but we're not ready for it. Until we can have 100% always-available to everyone in the country, it's never going to be as reliable as we want it to be. If you use the cloud, keep an external hard drive backup too. And maybe even a backup of your backup.

Bonnie Shaljean said...

I don't think I'm EVER going to be ready for my personal/sensitive stuff to be stored on some faceless giant's remote computer!