letters from the query wars 10.12.2012

# of queries responded to week ending 9.14.2012: 189
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 1
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: science fiction

# of queries responded to week ending 9.21.2012: 161
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 0
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: n/a

# of queries responded to week ending 9.28.2012: 149
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 1
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: science fiction

# of queries responded to week ending 10.5.2012: 127
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 0
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: n/a

# of queries responded to week ending 10.12.2012: 112
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 1
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: fantasy

Oldest query currently in the queue: October 9th

Not so long ago I was at a writers’ conference and ended up in a casual conversation with someone at a party. Eventually this led to me asking what this person was working on writing and we talked a bit about it, in so much as we could hear each other in the crowded room. (BTW, kudos to the writer for letting me introduce the subject rather than going straight for the pitch.) Towards the end of our chat, I asked her to keep me in mind to query when she finished her manuscript. She asked for my card and then commented that she wouldn’t have thought to query me because she didn’t feel she could compete with my current list of clients. At the time, I think I said something polite about her kind words and that I hoped I’d hear from her when she was ready.

More recently, I was discussing with a colleague an idea I’ve seen floated on various social networks that established agents won’t consider new writers. Not only do I know several agents who are busy and successful and have recently taken on and sold debut novelists, but of the last three clients I took on, two of them were for their first novels and the third had their first book under contract though it had not yet been released. For that matter, though Anne Bishop is now a New York Times Bestselling author, I also took her on for her first novel, a little story called Daughter of the Blood.

This is not to say that agents aren’t also looking for established writers. Or that writers might have a variety of reasons for developing their A-list of agents, which may or may not include established agents. After all, a new agent might be the person who is the best fit. Indeed, I have an entire workshop based on deciding what factors to consider when making an agent-author match. From where I sit, though, whether the writer is submitting their first novel or their tenth, I’ll be reading their story and thinking about whether I can be the best advocate for their work…

4 responses to “letters from the query wars 10.12.2012

  1. Thanks for sharing that story. I’ll admit to being quite intimidated by the idea of approaching (or worse, querying) an established agent. The thought gives me nightmares. I have Margaret White in my head screaming, “They’re all gonna laugh at you!” And considering the client list you and your agency represent, the insecurities of a beginning writer are magnified. It’s nice to see in your own words that you’re approachable. I won’t be ready to query for some time, but it’s never too early to learn to not be afraid of it. Thanks again!

  2. Jennifer,

    Thank you as ever for your encouraging post. A fair shot is all most of us ask for, and as long I know that agents such as yourself are doing that, I can continue to push myself and keep working on my craft.

  3. Your words are exactly what we authors need to hear at times. Thank you. Like Josh C. said, I’m working on a project I hope to submit and it’s always encouraging to know an agent is approachable.

  4. Pingback: link salad (client edition) plus some agent updates | Et in arcaedia, ego.

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