Saturday, September 19, 2020

Do I look more (or less!) enticing?

 I saw this #AskAgent question on Twitter recently. Since I don't answer questions on Twitter (no room for nuance and no way to filter out the frenzied), I'll post it here:

When querying, does it scare agents away if we mention we've worked with agents before? If we've had two agents abandon us mid-project (different projects) does that make us look more legitimate or suspicious? Asking for a friend.

The query you send me should be about the book you want me to take on.
And about you.

Your past (horrifying) experience with agents is best left till later. Much later.

The sad truth is, my first thought is: this writer is trouble.
If two agents ditched them abruptly, that's a red flag.

Don't fly your red flags if you can help it.

Put your best fin forward.


nightsmusic said...

New book, (I'm hoping) new set of circumstances, new you to the agent you're querying. Why cut your nose off to spite your face by letting the cat out of the bag before you've even said hello? Keep it to yourself and see how things progress instead of scaring a new agent off before they even get started.

Adele said...

Like how one divorce can happen to anybody, two might give you pause, but three or more and you've got to wonder what's wrong.

John Davis Frain said...

Adele, what are you doing Saturday night? All my exes claim to be busy, so I thought maybe...

miriam said...

What if you recently parted ways amicably with your agent? I've heard this would be a plus because it shows you're an experienced writer. I've heard you should put this at the beginning of the query to keep the agent reading. Janet, are you saying you should leave this info out unless asked? And BTW, some agents have forms through their websites and they ask if you've been agented before.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...


Brenda said...

Filter out the frenzied is my new social media motto.

Colin Smith said...

miriam: My understanding is that an agent who wants to represent you will need to know everything about your publishing past before heading off to sell your book. However, unless the agent specifically asks for the information up front, you don't need to tell the agent everything in your query. First things first. An agent isn't going to care about your history if they don't care about your novel. Begin by selling the agent on your work. Once you've hooked the shark, then, probably during "The Call," talk about your previous experience with agents, publishers, self-publishing, etc. That will help the agent decide how to strategize getting your book into the right hands, whether this is the right project at this time, whether another agent might be better for you, or some other option.

There's my 2c. Haven't spent it on here for a while. Hi! How's everyone? :)

AJ Blythe said...

Colin (waving) you mightn't have spent much time here of late but your comments are stil onpoint. All I can add, OP, is "what Colin said".

John Davis Frain said...

I'm with you, Miriam. That's not necessarily good news for you though.

Seems to me that if you've had an agent, that's a clear signal in a query that this person has been to the mountain top before. There are analogies I can come up with from all walks of life.

- You played in the symphony in Charlotte and now you've moved to Seattle. By all means, let them know you had that in your background. I'm not even looking for a new violinist, but I want to hear you audition.
- You had a 1.29 ERA before you underwent Tommy John surgery. I want to see you pitch. Wouldn't have given you the time of day if you hadn't told me you've been here before.
- You were your company's top salesperson and they fired you? Might be their loss, and my gain, I'm putting you at the top of my list to get to know.

- You had an agent and now you don't. Well, at least one of my peers thought you were outstanding. I'm moving you to the top of my TBR stack.

That's my logic. But I'm not an agent, so I may not think like one. And usually (read: Always!) when I disagree around here, I live to regret it.

Keep writing, y'all.

Panda in Chief said...

I'm in the "need to know" camp. When querying? not necessarily relevant information. But if the agent likes your work enough to discuss representation, then, yeah. That's when they need to know. There are all sorts of reasons why an agent/author relationship doesn't work out, and not all of them an within your control.
Once things get serious, all cards should be on the table.

Craig F said...

Something is happening here

What is isn't accidentally clear

Is it me or is it you, or is it the book that cannot sell.

I think it is time to take a while and dig into your pride.

See where the problem lies.

Maybe go back to square one

And start over again

Maybe a new book or attitude,

I don't know but you might.

Keep plugging away, soon the world will see

That are worth that sight.

Leslie said...

I think it's kinda like dating -- you don't offer up your flaws and personal issues on the first few dates. You wait until both of you are interested in a relationship before unloading