You Asked, We Answer
Blogger: Rachelle Gardner
I receive countless questions every day through the blog, email and Twitter. Here are a few of them, and my quick answers.
→I have queried multiple agents. One agent has requested a full manuscript and three others are reviewing partials. When offered representation by an agent, what is the proper protocol regarding the other agents?
First, congrats! That’s a terrific situation in which to find yourself. When you’re offered representation and other agents have requested partials, send them each an email to let them know and give them an opportunity to respond before accepting representation from the first agent. Exception: If the agent who offers representation is at Books & Such, just say yes and forget the rest.
→What writing conferences are the most beneficial to writers who want to learn about the query process, either by learning to write better queries or getting face-to-face feedback from agents who have read their pages?
I don’t think you can choose a particular conference based on their teaching of queries. You’ll have to look at the faculty list and the schedule of workshops offered for each conference, and decide which one looks like it offers what you want. Even better, you might want to look for online workshops and webinars that specifically teach queries.
→Would you recommend pre-converting sample pages to Kindle format and attaching them to a query or is that the sort of obnoxious brown-nosing that annoys more than endears?
Forget the Kindle conversion. Have your manuscript printed on chocolate bars (a white chocolate sans serif font looks great on dark chocolate) and send those. Failing that… no, please don’t convert your MS to Kindle format. We simply send the Word doc to our e-readers.
→I foolishly had my book printed by a POD publisher six years ago. It has sold maybe four copies. When my contract expires next year, I am thinking of reworking the whole thing: Title, character names, etc. – but not the plot – and try to find a REAL publisher. What reasons can you give for me to NOT try this?
Reason #1: Your book is really awful.
Reason #2: You are lazy.
Reason #3: By the time your POD contract expires, there are no real publishers left.
Reason #4: Um… can’t think of anything else. If you don’t have reason 1, 2, or 3, I say go for it.
→Tell us which things are absolutely essential to get right; which things are nice to have, but not essential; and which things make absolutely no difference.
I don’t think it’s possible to give a satisfactory answer to this one, because every agent will have their own answer. My take:
Absolutely essential: A book that other people would enjoy reading, and a pitch that makes someone want to read it.
Nice to have: A query that’s targeted to the agent you’re querying and includes all the information they need.
Makes absolutely no difference: The fact that you’ve been writing since you were 3, and any other bio information that doesn’t relate to the book you’re pitching.
→Do you get a better quality of query now that you’ve spent so much time educating people on how to do it?
I have to admit, I get a lot of good queries, and I can tell people are paying attention. I love this. It makes it worthwhile to read through the queries because even though a lot of them are unsuitable or poorly written, I’m continually impressed by how many good ones there are.
→Do publishers sometimes accept queries and/or manuscript ideas from writers without agents?
Some publishers accept unagented queries and proposals, but most of the majors don’t unless an editor met the writer at a conference and requested the material. (“Manuscript ideas” are not saleable with or without an agent.)
→Will agents represent an author who writes in different genres, fiction & nonfiction?
Some do, some don’t. If you are a new, unpublished author, remember it’s usually best to break-in with one thing, then branch out as you’re able. Get an agent for the project you want to do first. Don’t overlook the crucial importance of building a brand if you want solid book sales, and building a brand means specializing in a genre.
→Regardless of multiple reads/edits, I noticed (just as I hit send) that I misspelled a word in a query. What do I do?
I guess you break out in a cold sweat, feel mortified, and berate yourself mercilessly. Kidding! Relax. Don’t send the query again, or email the agent apologizing. If they can’t see past a single misspelled word, they’re not the agent for you.
If you have a question that can be answered in a few words, leave it in the comments. I’ll answer the ones I can, and save the rest for another post.
In today’s post, agent @RachelleGardner answers random writer questions. Click to Tweet.