Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Since it's free Tuesday, you get the wanderings I've been thinking. ;)

I have decided to seriously try for an agent. But how do I go about this- I want to broach the topic of multiple books. I want to only have partials to those said books in hand when I query/visit with them. So, do I, in my query, announce my accomplishments; i.e. published books, awards and then say I have these projects in the works and am looking for an agent?

Or do I have to query one project and then if they are interested tell them about the rest I have up my sleeve?

These have been my ponderings as I work on the synopsis for the first proposal.

Any thoughts and suggestions on this would be greatly appreciated or even blogs to read or maybe one where I could ask this question to an agent.

Hope you are all having a productive day. I've got nearly two pages of synopsis written. Now rather it's good or not is anybody's guess!


Elisabeth Naughton said...

I'm not entirely sure, Paty, but I think you have to query whichever book you think is strongest to hook the agent. Queries (as you know), generally have three parts:

1. Hook
2. Blurb about book
3. Paragraph about the author

In your paragraph about you I'd mention your publishing credentials, awards, etc. First and foremost agents are looking for a great book they can sell (and make money off of). In a one-page query you really don't have space to explain all the different proposals you're working on.

That's just my two cents. ;) Others may have different advice, but if itw were me, I'd pick your strongest proposal and query that. When you get an offer, that's when you talk about the other proposals you've been working on.

Alice Sharpe said...

I agree with Eli. Pick one, maybe hint at others in closing? I don't know, I think agents know we all come with multiple projects and dreams.

I don't know how to help you with the agent hunt. Some of the others will. The link Danita sent on the loop yesterday gave one man's experience and was fun to read.

Good luck!

Karen Duvall said...

This is a great question, Paty, and a really tough one to answer, too. I think what you're asking is if you can get an agent with a proposal(s) rather than a completed manuscript, correct? Published authors usually don't have to have a completed book to sell on proposal (unless they write something outside their usual genre), so the best case scenario would be to have an agent represent your proposal, right? Is that your question?

The reason this is tough to answer is because the sales history of your published books need to support the strength of your proposal. So if you sold through a print run of 20,000 copies, you might be able to sell on proposal, and thereby attract an agent to represent that proposal to publishers.

I don't know how many print copies of your TWRP books have sold, but I'll hazard a guess it's less than 1000? Correct me if I'm wrong. But less than 20,000 will not even raise the eyebrow of an agent, much less a publisher of mass market fiction.

If that's not your question, forget everything I just said. 8^)

If you have a finished manuscript you're trying to get representation for, then like Eli said, mention the finished one and if it's part of a series, you can say something to the effect of "this is the first book in a series." But don't go beyond that. Accomplishments can be listed in your bio paragraph. If you want to get really detailed, you could include a separate bio page, but chances are the agent won't look at it. They determine what they'll take on based on the strength of your writing, so extraneous info, unless you've made it to the NYT bestseller list, won't get much notice (even though you deserve it 8^)).

Hope that helps!

Elisabeth Naughton said...

Karen makes a great point, Paty (and one I didn't even catch in your original question), regarding fulls vs proposals. My agent and I just had this discussion yesterday. Though technically I've "sold" and my agent can sell my next RS on proposal, any other work of mine in other genres will still require a full manuscript. I have a paranormal RS that's halfway done, but she won't be able to shop it around until I finish it. The same is true for other published authors - I remember reading Stephanie Feagan's blog regarding this same thing - she'd sold and published three books with Bombshell (before it folded) and was working on a paranormal. Her agent also told her she needed to have a full ms before that one could be shopped.

In your case, though you have published work in the same genre you're hoping to hook an agent with, I think you might have trouble getting an agent to sign you on a proposal. odds are an agent isn't going to go back and read one of your published works to see if you can carry a story all the way through because one, their time is incredibly limited and two, they can't make any money off that already-published work, so why waste time reading it? Of course, this would be a different case if you had a proven track record selling to NY publishers because an agent then knows you can and probably will sell to NY again, but because you're with a small press, then you have to rely on what the agent thinks about small press publishers in the first place. Some view them as stepping stones to NY, some don't.

You can, of course, query a project that's not finished, so long as you're pretty sure it can be ready to send out by the time requests start coming in, but I think Karen's right in that you're probably going to need a completed manuscript to get an agent to sign you.

Paty Jager said...

Thanks everyone. You've just rained on my parade, but that's okay, I kind of had the feeling I'd have to make time to get this next book all written, which then leaves me with, I might as well write the book and then the synopsis and save me the pain and agony of trying to write the #%$%# synopsis!

So now I'm off to polish the third Halsey brother book and make it presentable so I can then start writing the contemporary.

wavybrains said...

Even though my YA was part of a planned series, I was told to only query book one. I included a one sentence line that proposals for book 2 and book 3 were available upon request, but I did not otherwise mention the series in either the query or the synopsis.

Karen Duvall said...

Sorry, Paty. Sigh. I know it's a struggle. Two steps forward, one step back, it seems. I have so many published friends who continue to struggle in their search for an agent, their next contract, etc., and it's an uphill battle unless you're established with a good sales track record and thousands of readers in your hip pocket.

Just get that new book written and make it your best ever. Think positive thoughts.

Danita Cahill said...

Paty, after I wrote my first book and didn't land an agent -- although I only queried a dozen or so and then decided the book needed some serious rewrites -- I didn't want to take 9-10 months to write another full book before I started querying again. So, I wrote the first 4 chapters of another book, made up a proposal package and sent it out. It went nowhere, except to score pretty high in a couple contests.

I didn't land an agent with that project either. I even sent it to a couple editors to test the waters. I got comments like "lively writing" and "great voice" but ultimately, "thanks but no thanks." And of course I couldn't offer to send a full because I didn't have one.

It all boils down to this: My experiment -- dang it -- showed me that I needed a full to even get seriously looked at. So, back to the drawing board I went.

But, with that said, if I were you, I wouldn't hesitate to book an appnt. with an agent, get as far as you can on a new contemporary before Nationals and pitch that baby. You write fast enough that if he/she requests a full, you can still get it to them in a timely manner.