Thursday, 14 January 2010

Take Six Agents

When I'd nearly finished re-writing my manuscript I sent out the usual package - first three chapters, synopsis and covering letter - to six agents one Monday afternoon. I had a connection with all of them: three I had met at a Romantic Novelists Association party the previous week (which is why I sent out before having fully completed the ms), one had been there but I hadn't met them, the other two I knew were attending the Winchester Writers Conference. This is what happened...

Agent No 1 rang me on Wednesday morning and asked to see the rest. Yippee!
Agent No 2 sent a letter on Thursday saying the novel wasn't for her, but added that she thought someone would take it on.
Agent No 3 sent a letter on Friday asking to see the rest.
Agent No 4 also sent a letter on Friday saying no one would want to read such depressing material, I was wasting my time and I'd just wasted hers. Yes, really.
Agent No 5 sent a letter on Monday saying she'd got two clients who were writing similar work to mine and she was having difficulty placing them, so she couldn't take me on.
Agent No 6 - well, I'm still waiting to hear from Agent No 6, but it's too late as I went with the fabulous Agent No 1.

It's one person's opinion after all, but if I'd only had Agent No 4's letter I might never have sent out again. It was bad enough reading it after I'd had a phone call from an agent saying they wanted to read the rest, I dread to think how I would have felt if it had been the only response. So, that's why I believe in multiple submissions.

PS I have since met Agent No 4 at a party. I didn't spit in her drink, kick her shins or say 'Yah boo sucks! That book you said was a waste of time sold to ten countries, you know nothing.' I just smiled sweetly and moved on. Which shows I'm either a nice person full of forgiveness or a coward.


Blossom said...

My first choice agent is someone I met at Winchester 18 months ago. I don't expect she'll remember me, but I will say in my covering letter that we've met.

Winchester has been useful for me over the last two years as I've met several agents/authors. All but one agent liked what they saw. If she had written to me with her dislikes I'd have been mortified, but at least face to face I had an opportunity to put my point of view.

I'm not sure if I'm brave enough for multiple submissions ... did you put in your covering letter that you had sent out mss to other agents?

Sarah Duncan said...

No, I don't think you need to for just the first 3 chapters as the chances are they're going to make a v quick yes or no based on a pretty cursory glance. If they ask to see the whole thing then that's going to be read properly, which is time consuming, so I don't think you should send that out to more than one person at a time.