Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Third time's a charm right? Do I have to mention 1 and 2?

I have recently completed my third novel, but have yet to find an agent. So, my question is regarding past manuscripts that were rejected during the querying process by prospective agents. Do I mention these in my query?

I would love to inform any potential agents that I am in it for the long haul. I have learned that agents are looking to build a career with an author and while my day job does not include writing, the longterm goal is definitely to quit my job and write full time. How do I tell an agent that I am serious and this isn’t just a whim or hobby? Is that something you can casually reference in a query?

You do not need to mention former dives into the query pool; it's better if you don't. I don't care about your learning curve, I care about whether I love this novel and think I can sell it.

You do not need to tell me you're in this for the long haul, or that you want to build a career. I assume that from jump.  I also know that what you think now isn't what you might think in five years.

My ONLY concern is the here and now. Tell me about this novel in an enticing way, and send me a novel that makes me want to get on the phone and pitch it to editors, and we'll let everything else fall into place.

Your underlying assumption is that you have to pitch me as an author I want to work with. It's exactly the reverse. I assume you're someone I can work with until you provide evidence to the contrary.

Evidence to the contrary are things like intransigence about edits; annoyance at the glacial pace of publishing (well, EXPRESSED annoyance, we're all perpetually annoyed); or somehow conveying that you think I work for you rather than with you ("hiring an agent" is a phrase that makes me cringe.)

Any questions?


julieweathers said...

Blogger must not be updating as there are no replies showing up.

I agree with Janet, no surprise, don't mention the other novels. The only thing the agent is interested in is this novel at this point. Make it the best you can.

Paul Goat Allen has an interesting article on five star reviews here. It might be worth reading to see if there are some ways to improve your manuscript.

LynnRodz said...

Agree, concentrate only on the book you're querying, OP. After you have an agent you can talk about your other manuscripts.

Thanks for the link, Julie, great article.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Hey OP, I'm querying book 3 and working on book 4. The only place I mention them is here. Makes me sound like a sorry ass loser but really, I've learned more and more while writing each masterpiece.

Sherry Howard said...

Your underlying assumption is that you have to pitch me as an author I want to work with. It's exactly the reverse. I assume you're someone I can work with until you provide evidence to the contrary. Janet’s words (Blogger refused html tags today!)

Those words are very reassuring!

Sam Mills said...

My sixth finished book is the first one I'm eager to query (*checks spreadsheet* okay, ninth if you count the 50K kid's adventure books of my youth, but let's not). The seventh is currently in revisions, lining up to go on submission if #6 flunks out. Either this means I've really worked on my craft OR I'm a terribly slow learner. XD Either way, I'm not mentioning the path of destruction it took to get here.

John Davis Frain said...

Persistence is a virtue in this industry. You need to have it. But you don't need to flaunt it.

Looks like Sam-I-Am Mills is the person you need to be. Whether you become him in a box or on the docks is up to you.

Stothers said...


hank you for the input, Janet.

It's nice to know that the sins of the past can remain in the dark and the time to shine is now.

Colin Smith said...

I'm with Sam. When I next query, I'm querying for that book, and not mentioning the path of destruction it took to get there. :)

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Dear Lord, I hope agents forget my earlier sojourns into the query gauntlet.

Is it wrong to send whisky with your query to help them forget?

BJ Muntain said...

The time your previous novels come into play is when you're in discussions with an agent just prior to signing with them, sometimes known as The Call(TM). Chances are, she'll ask what else you have, and that's when you mention it.

A query letter's purpose is to get the agent to read the manuscript. The manuscript is what will entice the agent to sign you on.

One Of Us Has To Go said...

Thanks for the question, OP.

Thanks for the answer and "intransigence", Janet. Bonus for me, I learned another new word!

I believe there is a word for the 'old' books that become interesting at a later stage. Is it "backup list"/"back list" or so?

One Of Us Has To Go said...

So sorry, but I just HAVE to tune back in here, off today's subject, but I'm so excited right now.

Craig and BJ Muntain, and anyone else with mental struggle here:

The illustrator of the cartoon that linked OCD and editing a manuscript has replied to me on Twitter, thanked me for pointing this out to her and has modified the comic.

Also, she has followed me back rather than blocked me. And I let her know that I am thankful for her action :)!

Yay, education has worked, progress made, so happy about this for all the sufferers who can relate to this.

Have a lovely day everyone!
*jump, jump for joy*

Steve Stubbs said...

OP: "the longterm goal is definitely to quit my job and write full time."

Well, I dunno. Certain people want to shut down social security and transfer the money to the rich, so that dog may not hunt.

If you are paying your employer for the privilege of coming in and enjoying the office, and some people do get maneuvered into that, you should quit right now. If they are paying you until they can replace you with somebody younger, I would counsel hanging on as long as possible.

You're right to think beyond the end of your job. One thing to be cautious of is, everybody I know, including Yours Truly here, has had really wacky ideas occur to them for how to stage a second act. One fellow I know decided if nobody hired him, he would threaten to go on strike. (He worked in IT, naturally, and his career was shipped to India.) If nobody wants him, how is he going to go on strike? Another, also in the IT field, saw his career shipped to India and decided to just go ahead and become a rock star. Nothing to it. Just belt out a few bars and haul in the cash. It is easy to kid yourself, so be cautious of that.

Ms. Reid is right. When selling yourself you want to emphasize your SUCCESSES, not itemize a list of frustrations. Everybody has to fail on the way to success, but if you itemize your failures, it might make people think failure is something you ARE, whereas the truth is, failure is just a necessary inconvenience you have learned from and overcome.

If they want to know about your failures, tell them to hire Mike Hammer. Don't volunteer that information.

Craig F said...

I will admit that I have tossed a couple (2) of my works into the query trenches. After a round or two of failure, I always rethink myself. Then I worked on getting fresh eyes on those projects.

On each I got a tentative voice saying that they looked pretty good but it seemed like something, somewhere is missing. The smallest little piece of the jigsaw puzzle that covers all of the bases in Julie's link. It seems so easy.

One of us: Congrats on a victory.I hope everything else settles out for you. Soon.

AJ Blythe said...

Sam, oh my gosh, yes! I totally ignore the carnage I've left in my tracks. I always believe the one I'm writing now is "the one", until it isn't. But by then I'm onto the next shiny thing and hope no-one remembers that ever increasing pile in the bottom drawer.

One of us, great news. You have to pick your battles and it sounds like you picked wisely.

One Of Us Has To Go said...

Thanks a lot, Craig and AJ Blythe 💜.

Julie Weathers said...
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