Author Topic: WHEN AGENT ASKS FOR INFO  (Read 4068 times)

Offline Zooks

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WHEN AGENT ASKS FOR INFO
« on: June 29, 2018, 06:05:02 PM »
Hi guys, just wondering if you ever received a response to a query (and 50 pages) from an agent asking: "Could you tell me a little bit about yourself?"  Grant it, I did not include the usual bio with info re: several short stories being published, etc., because I'd read that agents aren't interested unless you've had a book published and you have a massive social media following. My question is, since the MC of this MS is a black woman, I'm wondering if the agent, whom I presume read and liked the first 50 pages, is curious about my ethnicity. (The agent could Google me and find my website to ascertain this.) What are your thoughts? Thanks.
THE ARCHIMEDES SOCIETY-Humor
THE KNOTTED GUN - Suspense
THE LONG AND THE SHORT OF IT-RomCom
NOOKS & GRANNIES-YA
GATSBY DELANEY - 7TH GRADE IMPRESARIO - MG
THIS AIN'T NO COWBOY MOVIE-YA
BROGWIN FRAYNEY & HOW HE NEARLY SAVED A KINGDOM-MG
DEATH AT THE DRIVE-IN - Gen'l Fiction
A SCOUNDREL'S TALE-Humor

Offline JBeachum

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Re: WHEN AGENT ASKS FOR INFO
« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2018, 07:17:43 PM »
I don't think I'd presume that. I'd just assume she wants to know more about you either out of curiosity or because she's considering taking another step to see if she wants to ask for the full manuscript. I don't think there's any ulterior motive here.
Repped by Marisa Corvisiero of the Corvisiero Literary Agency

Offline jcwrites

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Re: WHEN AGENT ASKS FOR INFO
« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2018, 07:20:54 PM »

I'd read that agents aren't interested unless you've had a book published and you have a massive social media following.


That's true at the query letter stage. You, however, have moved beyond that (CONGRATULATIONS!). So now you can expand a bit on who you are, both writing-wise and life-wise. Notice the key phrase, "a bit".

As to ethnicity, race, creed, etc., I wouldn't bring it up.

Offline Zooks

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Re: WHEN AGENT ASKS FOR INFO
« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2018, 07:31:03 PM »
Thanks JBeachum, for your positive take on this. (I'm just a little gun shy from a previous agent asking and then radio silence to my response.)

Thanks jcwrites. *fingers crossed*

Thanks 007 Fan. I hope you're right. BTW, is that a photo of an abbey in ruins in Yorkshire or thereabouts? Looks familiar.
THE ARCHIMEDES SOCIETY-Humor
THE KNOTTED GUN - Suspense
THE LONG AND THE SHORT OF IT-RomCom
NOOKS & GRANNIES-YA
GATSBY DELANEY - 7TH GRADE IMPRESARIO - MG
THIS AIN'T NO COWBOY MOVIE-YA
BROGWIN FRAYNEY & HOW HE NEARLY SAVED A KINGDOM-MG
DEATH AT THE DRIVE-IN - Gen'l Fiction
A SCOUNDREL'S TALE-Humor

Offline 007 fan

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Re: WHEN AGENT ASKS FOR INFO
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2018, 07:34:55 PM »
Thanks JBeachum, for your positive take on this. (I'm just a little gun shy from a previous agent asking and then radio silence to my response.)

Thanks jcwrites. *fingers crossed*

Thanks 007 Fan. I hope you're right. BTW, is that a photo of an abbey in ruins in Yorkshire or thereabouts? Looks familiar.

Yes. Whitby Abbey. I hope to go someday.

P.S. Why I suspect agent might want to know your race is because your MC is not white/pair this with my first post to this thread.
:write:                                                                          :cbash:

Offline Zooks

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Re: WHEN AGENT ASKS FOR INFO
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2018, 07:50:57 PM »
007 Fan - I thought so. I was there eons ago. A pretty hummy place - full of history and mystery. No wonder Bram Stoker got Dracula from it. I hope you get to see it in person.

I hope you're right about the agent being curious (since I'd omitted the bio) and not for other reasons.
THE ARCHIMEDES SOCIETY-Humor
THE KNOTTED GUN - Suspense
THE LONG AND THE SHORT OF IT-RomCom
NOOKS & GRANNIES-YA
GATSBY DELANEY - 7TH GRADE IMPRESARIO - MG
THIS AIN'T NO COWBOY MOVIE-YA
BROGWIN FRAYNEY & HOW HE NEARLY SAVED A KINGDOM-MG
DEATH AT THE DRIVE-IN - Gen'l Fiction
A SCOUNDREL'S TALE-Humor

Offline Waterfall

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Re: WHEN AGENT ASKS FOR INFO
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2018, 09:08:24 PM »
Another option would be to walk directly into the question you fear, and to talk about your bio in whatever terms you choose, but to conclude by addressing directly why you chose to write a black female protagonist, acknowledge the social importance (and risk) of making that choice, and name the work you've done to ensure that your portrayal of someone at least nominally unlike yourself is as rich and complex as it deserves to be. In this context, I don't think the question would be untoward, and shouldn't be unexpected. You can turn it to your advantage if you're fully confident in naming the steps you've taken write a culturally thoughtful work.

Best of luck with your next steps. And congratulations on getting such strong interest in your work.

 

Offline Zooks

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Re: WHEN AGENT ASKS FOR INFO
« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2018, 10:12:32 PM »
Thanks, Waterfall, for your insightful response. Maybe some day I'll be able to use it. I do like the direct approach rather than dancing around the elephant in the room.

Unfortunately, after responding to the agent last night with my bio re: my short stories published, chapters of 2 novels included in 2 separate anthologies, a series of 13 short stories published online, and 1 of my novellas that I adapted to a stage play that was produced on stage to good reviews.

Agent's response: "Unfortunately, I don't represent self-published authors unless their books have sold tens of thousands of copies. Best of luck."

Now, I did not mention I had self-published a book. So, either the agent misunderstood something, or they Googled me and saw I had self-published a novel (that did not sell in the tens of thousands btw. Not that the agent would know that.)  But if the agent had read the 1st 50 pages and seemed interested enough to contact me, why not take a chance and ask for the full MS. And if they liked it enough to offer representation, go ahead and take a chance. It seems more than a bit unfair to cross me off the list because I had self-published 1 novel. I could develop a complex over this.  :no:
THE ARCHIMEDES SOCIETY-Humor
THE KNOTTED GUN - Suspense
THE LONG AND THE SHORT OF IT-RomCom
NOOKS & GRANNIES-YA
GATSBY DELANEY - 7TH GRADE IMPRESARIO - MG
THIS AIN'T NO COWBOY MOVIE-YA
BROGWIN FRAYNEY & HOW HE NEARLY SAVED A KINGDOM-MG
DEATH AT THE DRIVE-IN - Gen'l Fiction
A SCOUNDREL'S TALE-Humor

Offline jcwrites

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Re: WHEN AGENT ASKS FOR INFO
« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2018, 10:48:44 PM »
My god, Zooks, that makes no sense at all. Surely the agent has got a wire crossed somewhere. Maybe you could reply, "Just to be clear, the work I'm querying has never been published." And then add something like, "I've attached the full manuscript in case there's been a mix-up." At least that way, you've gone the extra mile to set things straight.

What a bummer. Good luck.


Offline Zooks

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Re: WHEN AGENT ASKS FOR INFO
« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2018, 11:41:38 PM »
Thanks, jcwrites. I felt like tinkering with a response to clarify. I like your suggestion.
THE ARCHIMEDES SOCIETY-Humor
THE KNOTTED GUN - Suspense
THE LONG AND THE SHORT OF IT-RomCom
NOOKS & GRANNIES-YA
GATSBY DELANEY - 7TH GRADE IMPRESARIO - MG
THIS AIN'T NO COWBOY MOVIE-YA
BROGWIN FRAYNEY & HOW HE NEARLY SAVED A KINGDOM-MG
DEATH AT THE DRIVE-IN - Gen'l Fiction
A SCOUNDREL'S TALE-Humor

Offline Munley

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Re: WHEN AGENT ASKS FOR INFO
« Reply #10 on: July 01, 2018, 08:11:26 AM »
Although there couldn't be publishing without writers, it sometimes feels as though writers are at the very bottom of the food chain in this industry.

I suppose that agents do have to consider their reputation with editors. Send too many manuscripts that turn out to be poor sellers and editors/publishers could become inclined to write off that agent. So there is some risk for an agent, yet does the agent have to go so far as to depend on a thing like sales of a self-published book when:

1)  Opportunities for individuals to promote self-published books are limited. This is not proof that the book sucks.

2)  Buyers are not going to buy a product (book or otherwise) that they've never heard of.
     This is not proof that people just weren't interested in the sort of thing this author writes.

3)  Gatekeepers like agents can take on only so many new clients per year.
     This is not proof that the book sucked so much that the author had to resort to self-publishing.


Agent's response: "Unfortunately, I don't represent self-published authors unless their books have sold tens of thousands of   . . .  But if the agent had read the 1st 50 pages and seemed interested enough to contact me, why not take a chance and ask for the full MS. And if they liked it enough to offer representation, go ahead and take a chance. It seems more than a bit unfair to cross me off the list because I had self-published 1 novel. I could develop a complex over this.  :no:

Unfair indeed, as well as nonsensical, given the marketing realities of self-publishing.
There are badly written books traditionally and self-ly, but as you say, this agent had a look at 50 pages of your writing. That should be her standard of judgment.








Offline koji

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Re: WHEN AGENT ASKS FOR INFO
« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2018, 10:03:16 AM »
Perhaps if you did not mentioned your self-pubbed book and the agent found it, then they thought you were being dishonest with them/trying to hide something and did not want to pursue that relationship?

Offline Waterfall

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Re: WHEN AGENT ASKS FOR INFO
« Reply #12 on: July 01, 2018, 10:31:10 AM »
Quote
"Unfortunately, I don't represent self-published authors unless their books have sold tens of thousands of copies. Best of luck."

Oh dear. That's just lazy and dumb both. They read fifty pages. They liked fifty pages. What's the f.... problem? I agree with jcwrites that a response to clarify that this work wasn't self-published is worthwhile. The worst that can happen is silence, and we're all used to that.

and
Quote
Although there couldn't be publishing without writers, it sometimes feels as though writers are at the very bottom of the food chain in this industry.

That's the cold truth of almost every industry. I just finished a book (coming out in April) on the multiple reasons why higher ed has essentially stopped hiring teachers. There can't be college without teachers, but the adjunct faculty are at the very bottom of that food chain, too.

And then there's this, from Keith Gessen's Vanity Fair article on how THE ART OF FIELDING became a huge book in 2011. He relates that the same editor handled the prior year's hit, ROOM, by Emma Donoghue. Her two prior books had sold 1,852 and 1,119 hardcover copies, but they still took a chance on ROOM, which sold half a million.

The world is random. All we have is the work—the joy of doing and the pride of having done.

Offline Zooks

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Re: WHEN AGENT ASKS FOR INFO
« Reply #13 on: July 01, 2018, 03:56:06 PM »
Hi Munley, yeah, I recall reading some agent's comments (in their blog perhaps), saying that we, authors, are really interviewing them (agents) via our query letters, because, after all, they work for us.  I had a good laugh over that! It sure doesn't seem that way in reality. It's more like us tugging at our forelocks and exiting the room bowing for whatever slight interest they've shown us. Gee, that sounds bitter, but I've been at this a long time and to fall for it time after time and get my hopes up...ergh.  Anyroad, I shall compose a polite response to agent in question and send it off with the feeling that shall be the last of it.

Hi koji - that's what I thought when the agent mentioned self-publishing at all. I wasn't being sneaky about it, it's just why bother mentioning it when it happened 6 years ago? And this is an entirely different book. *sigh*

Hi Waterfall, thanks for the support. And congratulations on your book coming out in April. We bottom feeders can either see ourselves as mustachioed catfish or expensive lobster. I prefer the latter. Excuse me while I go later myself in butter. :naughty:
THE ARCHIMEDES SOCIETY-Humor
THE KNOTTED GUN - Suspense
THE LONG AND THE SHORT OF IT-RomCom
NOOKS & GRANNIES-YA
GATSBY DELANEY - 7TH GRADE IMPRESARIO - MG
THIS AIN'T NO COWBOY MOVIE-YA
BROGWIN FRAYNEY & HOW HE NEARLY SAVED A KINGDOM-MG
DEATH AT THE DRIVE-IN - Gen'l Fiction
A SCOUNDREL'S TALE-Humor

Offline koji

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Re: WHEN AGENT ASKS FOR INFO
« Reply #14 on: July 02, 2018, 01:22:29 AM »
Yeah, I get that. I realize that what I wrote might have sounded harsh. But I also have a self-pubbed cookbook that I pubbed a few years ago (without thinking... it was really a vanity project) and has only sold around 200 copies... so I wonder if that could be hurting me now, especially because I don't bother mentioning it in most cases.