When I joined D4EO agency it gave me the opportunity to very excitedly switch over to QueryManger (known as QM from now on) instead of using an email inbox for queries. I’ve been with several agencies between interning, assisting, and agenting and I’ve seen many different query inbox systems. QM is by far my favorite. However I get a lot of confused messages from authors about QM, and so I’m going to discuss how I use QM as an agent and clear up some confusion, including the fact that no, you can’t add indents to your query since it uses block formatting. The amount of messages I received about that when I first switched over to QM surprised me.
What I love most about QM is how organized it is. And since it has all my queries and requests, it keeps everything in one place instead of getting requests lost beneath dozens of other emails. QM also hides my email and uses it’s own to send from, which cuts down on submission emails to my agency email and keeps my amount of emails under control. I think it’s important to note QM is not designed to be messaging back and forth with authors, something I learned from experience. It’s set up to make it easy to reject or request and once we know we want to offer it’s assumed we will switch to email, which is what I do. Unfortunately that also makes it hard to respond to questions from authors so please just follow the submission guidelines and if you have questions about representation save it for when/if I offer since we will have a chat when I offer. If I have questions I will shoot you an email. Continue reading “QueryManger and Queries”
After my latest conference taking pitches from authors, I had some thoughts I wanted to share. Most queries to me end up as a rejection, and unfortunately that includes ones received from conferences. However that doesn’t mean pitching an agent can’t be worthwhile. For those who view agents as the scary gatekeepers, this is also your chance to see that we are real people too. And as an agent I enjoy getting the chance to talk to authors and hopefully be of some help. Publishing is a tough industry and I wish I could help more authors out, but my time is limited and my clients come first. Luckily I can give out tips on my blog!
In my experience a lot of people get nervous pitching face to face. The pitches usually aren’t as succinct as queries either. I tend to like to see the queries afterward because I don’t like to judge by a nervous pitch unless I know the overall concept definitely isn’t for me. My advice is don’t see that pitch to an agent as a make-or-break moment for your book and instead view it as an opportunity to practice pitching your work and getting to ask questions. Once you’re a published author you will get people asking what your book is about and if you can give a good pitch you might be able to convert curious people into future readers. You also may wind up in other networking positions where being able to pitch your book will help you. Continue reading “Pitching at Conferences”
One of the questions I often get asked by potential clients is whether or not I’m an editorial agent. With my background in editing the answer is of course. That leads to authors wanting to know how much editing I do, which depends on the amount of work each individual project needs. Editorial agents are becoming more common and I think the increased competitiveness of the industry is going to lead to most if not all agents becoming editorial agents eventually. Honestly I’m glad I started on the editorial side first to work on editing since these days it’s an important skill for agents. While I don’t give specific edit notes until a client has signed with me, on the offer call I try to cover my expectations of what needs edited to clue the author in how many edits we’d be doing together.
When it comes to my clients, as an agent I tend to work with authors who don’t need heavy line edits and I tend to focus on developmental edits instead. By that I mean their overall style is polished and the changes needed are usually not grammatical issues that pop up throughout the whole story like passive versus active voice or too much telling. My clients are authors who have put in a lot of time to studying the craft and aren’t still learning the basics. They are also often experienced with taking critique as well. Continue reading “Being an Editorial Literary Agent”
I think it’s pretty safe for me to say many if not all of us working in publishing struggle to have a healthy work-life balance. Our jobs can be time demanding so much so that it can feel like there’s never enough time to get everything done. As an editor I had to balance how many projects I accepted at one time. As an agent I keep a close eye on my client list and how many upcoming projects I have when I consider making an offer. My big goal for 2019 is to try to obtain a healthier work-life balance. Thankfully since I live in Pittsburgh instead of NYC, my cost of living is lower which means I can keep my client list smaller. So here’s some cold hard truth about my work-life balance as an agent.
Clients always come first, but because handling work for them takes up my regular work hours, reading to find new clients often gets pushed into personal time. Once you get behind on queries its difficult to catch back up without closing to new queries. I set aside a half hour a few times a week to go through queries. This keeps me on track, but as the number of queries in my inbox rises so does the time needed to get through them and read all the “maybes” I have marked. And really that’s why you really need to grab me with your query and first chapter because there are probably five or more other manuscripts being considered for a full request and I don’t have time to request and read them all. Continue reading “Work-life Balance in Publishing”
Sometimes authors have no idea how many queries agents or how we choose projects. I wanted to do a compilation of some 2018 stats and what I saw that I liked and didn’t like in queries along with a few things to keep an eye out for when you query literary agents in 2019 to improve your chances. These stats focus on fiction since fiction dominated my slush. Going into 2019 I plan to hunt down some great nonfiction projects.
First of all, I got hundreds of queries this year even with only opening to queries in September. November was my busiest query month with 252 queries. Things slowed down in December to about 190 queries. This was likely due to many other agents closing for the month and people taking a break for the holidays. This is what makes it hard to stand out in the slush, the sheer number of subs agents receive. Make sure your query is on point before sending it out. I saw a lot of queries that left out stakes or got too convoluted or even focused on themes instead of plot or left out the plot altogether. Avoid these mistakes because they make a project easy to pass on. Continue reading “2018 Query Round Up”
By submission list, I mean the submissions your agent sent to editors. A big trend in my query box lately is previously published and previously represented authors. Many books were already out on one or two submission rounds. I personally like to ask about all this and know as much as possible if I’m interested in a full. I’m seeing so much of this lately that I wanted to post a little reminder here about keeping submission info.
I’ve started a habit of asking if the last agent sent the MS to any editors when I request a full from a previously represented author. I take my submissions game plan into heavy consideration when I’m reading a full and if a book has already been sent to just about every editor, I wouldn’t expect to be able to sell it and might ask to see the next book instead. The more editors to have seen a book, the harder it could be for me to sell.
Why keep the list? Past submissions on books can help target submissions on your next book. Maybe an editor asked to see future books or recommended a different editor. Maybe one made it clear they weren’t fond of the author’s writing style, in which case it would be a waste to send the next book to them instead of a different editor at that house or imprint. If editors have already seen one book your next agent won’t want to send the same book to those editors a second time.
If you decide to split with your agent make sure you keep your submission list since it will come in handy to your next agent. And if your current MS has already been given to editors, your agent will need to know who.
If you are in the query trenches you have my sympathy for how difficult the going can be. You should also make sure you only query an agent one project at a time. I get a lot of queries for a whole series (fantasy is the big offender for this) or an author pitching multiple books in the same query letter. Pitch one project at a time to an agent. I’m going to explain exactly why that is.
First off, I will more than likely only pitch one project of yours at a time. That means I need to know which project you are currently focusing on and want to sell. If you throw several at me, I don’t know which one you want to go up to bat with the most. It’s also more reading time not only to decide if I like your writing, but which project to sign. My time is limited when it comes to reading projects to sign clients, so I need to choose carefully. Having a whole series or several books to get through is a much larger time investment than looking at one project and unless I’m in love with a concept the time investment makes it easy to pass. Continue reading “Query One Project at a Time”