Monday, October 17, 2011

No from one, No from all... REALLY?

 Q: I know that some agencies are a "no from one is a no from all", but... what if I want to query more than one of the agents anyway? I mean, different people like different things, you're always saying this business is subjective, why not? And who ever got successful without bending a few rules, anyway, particularly dumb and arbitrary ones?
I feel like I have probably answered this before, but what the heck. Forgive me, loyal readers, if you've read this info before.

My agency is a "no from one means no from all" agency. We provide lots of info about each agent on our website so that hopefully you can target your submissions. We really do share material.

One of the biggest agency-wide peeves is when people query multiple of us at the same time, or "shotgun query" us one after the other. We really do share work with each other - both the good and the bad - and while simply sending to one of us is not a guarantee that your work will get passed around... if it is memorable, it will. And then, yanno... WE'LL REMEMBER IT. Because it is MEMORABLE.

If you query an agent and she is into your work, and she brings it into a meeting to share, then she realizes that one or more of her colleagues is also looking, she'll likely be irritated. I know I would be. We all have pretty full client rosters as it is, and if we love something, we want to be able to offer on it unimpeded. You are making the relationship fraught and weird from the outset, and you've proved from the outset that you don't follow the simplest of directions. Not a good start. We aren't going to fight with each other over you, so we'll probably all end up rejecting you. You've wasted all of our time, and your opportunity with the agency.

If you got a full request and you got notes and the agent really put time into it, she will likely be irritated if you then turn around and approach another agent at the agency. Anyway, I know I would be. She is already invested in you to an extent. At the very least, give her the opportunity to look at your next ms, or a revised version of this one if you used her notes to revise. She doesn't have to say yes -- but it is courteous to ask. Something like "I edited this extensively using your insightful feedback as a springboard for the revision. I truly feel this is a better, stronger manuscript for the work. Would you be open to taking another look, and if not, may I query one of your colleagues perhaps?"  She'll probably say yes, or give you leave to query somebody else at the agency. She might even pass the ms to that person herself.

If, however, you got rejected (and especially if it was a "no response") at the query stage, and you think your query might not have even gotten a second glance, and you want to query another agent at the agency too, there is a way:

* WAIT several months after the rejection, or after the "no response" time-frame is up (3-6 months would be appropriate)

* REVISE both your query and your work during that time

* BE HONEST in your next query. "I queried Jenn Laughran with an earlier version of this manuscript back in the spring and got no response. Since then I have revised significantly and I feel it is a much stronger work..."

It's like Stop, Drop and Roll... but hopefully less flammable. Remember it.

Good luck!