Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New Novel, Old Agent

I chalked my first YA novel up to experience but only after I made it to the point that two (out of seven to whom I sent queries) agents asked for the complete manuscript. One of the agents never wrote me after requesting the complete manuscript--I just had to assume she/he was declining, based on no response.

My question: I am now getting ready to query a second YA novel. Can I start at some better place with these two agents--mention that they had expressed some interest in my first? Or do I just start from scratch on their agency web sites, since they didn't like the first enough to sign me? I am especially leery of the one who did not respond, although the correspondence up to the final interaction was cordial and even enthusiastic, and he/she is a reputable agent from a respected agency.

Sure, what the hey. If they liked your work the first time around, mention it but don't bank on it. It might help, it might hurt, but in the large scheme of things, there are so many agents out there that if your book is good, someone will pick it up. Probably.

As to people who get to fulls and don't like them, not responding is rude but sadly not uncommon. My boss requests a lot of fulls but very, very rarely accepts one, especially in fiction and usually, she says, because she really likes the writing or subject (the reason she got past the partial stage) but didn't like the ending. It's surprising hard to bring a book to a good ending. I know I was rejected for many years for "structural problems" and still have that issue with some of my work. So the agent might say, "Hey, this is a person whose writing I liked, but the last novel just didn't work. Maybe experience has gotten them somewhere."

Or they may not remember you at all. There's always that possibility.


Anonymous said...

Um, holy cow -- did you just say you only queried 7 agents with a novel and gave up? Why?

Go to agentquery.com, plug in "YA" and you'll get a ton of agents that represent that category.

Why would you query the same 7 agents with this new novel when there are so many others out there?

As far as the agent that requested a full and never got back to you, yes, that sucks, but as Rejecter said, it isn't uncommon. I turned in a requested revision for an agent over Christmas and she hasn't bothered to answer my status queries, so I'm considering that a reject, too).

On the other hand, you've just doged a big bullet of being represented by a non-communicative agent, so really, it's a blessing in disguise.

Steena Holmes said...

I'm stuck on the fact that an agent may like the writing and story but pass because of the ending. Isn't that something that can be fixed easily with the writer?

Dawn Hullender said...

If an agent likes an idea well enough to request a full but doesn't like the ending, wouldn't a request to rewrite be called for?

Why turn the writer down flat? They're a writer, writing is what they do. If an alternate ending would work, why not just ask for it instead of turning them down?

1979 semi-finalist said...

I would definitely re-query an agent that in the past was interested in your previous work with your new work. I did a major revision on an old book (that basically made it an entirely new book) and two agents that I reached out to with the new book/new draft immediately were interested in fulls. It's definitely worth a try.

That said, I also agree with Anon 4:12 that if you really only queried 7 agents you shouldn't necessarily give up on that ms.