Monday, November 13, 2006

Mysterious Questions from an Agent

Dear Rejecter,
I queried an agent who emailed me asking two
questions: 1)if the book had been workshopped with any
writers' groups and 2) if any publishers had seen the

Why do you think the agent would be interested,
especially in the writers' groups?

The answer to the second question is obvious. He/she wants to know if you have been rejected by any or all of the big five companies, which would be a serious reason for the agent not to take on the manuscript.

The answer to the first question is not so obvious. The agent might be implying that the book needs to be edited, but I don't know why the agent wouldn't have come out and said "You need an editor." Writer's groups are a mixed bag, and I don't know an agent who would send a client to one. What the agent is probably doing is fishing for big names - if you did a workshop with a famous author or attended Clarion or whatnot. But that's just a guess.


Anonymous said...

The poster said "queried" and I take this meaning the agent has not read the manuscript--so the answers don't follow.

The Rejecter said...

They would for question 2 and if the answer is that the agent was fishing for the name of a famous workshop.

Anonymous said...

Your answers are as valid as anybody else's, it's anybody's guess.

It could also be a dodgy agent planning a variation on the many scams out there.

On the other hand it could just be an agent who likes the query on the one hand but is not sure they want the hassles that can come with new untried authors.

Most likely cause is the agent picking up something in the query that makes them nervous about the publishing/editing status of that particular work.

There is no way of telling without asking the agent.

Anonymous said...

You mention the "big 5" - can you please enlighten me as to who they are?

Anonymous said...

I also wondered if this is a scam agent softening the author up for "Gosh-how-lovely-but I won't represent you unless you have the manuscript edited by THIS person..."

word veri: bsmwnffm - Sheesh! Could they make 'em any longer?

The Rejecter said...

Who actually is a member of the "big 5" changes every once in a while with corporate buy-outs and mergers, but they're generally considered to be Simon & Schuster, Penguin Putnam Inc., HarperCollins, Time Warner, and Doubleday. Most of the books on your shelves and about 90% of all bestsellers come from imprints from one of these companies. McGraw-Hill is also sometimes on the list.

Anonymous said...

For question 2:

I remember an agent saying that they like it when they know an author had the book through a writers/critique group. I believe the reason was because that way it does go through some kind of editing. I see nothing sinister there.

Anonymous said...

Critique groups seem to quickly establish their own little subcultures. Good ones can help you improve your project. Others will steer you straight into the quagmire of banality, over a cliff of self-absorbed melodrama, or some other bad place.

There's a "poetry group" in the Running with Scissors movie, which is hilarous because it's simultaneously so bad and so real.

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed that the big five doesn't include Random House.

Anonymous said...

oes not include Random House