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Sending work to an agent

(19 Posts)
thoughtsandall Tue 13-Aug-13 14:17:45

I have finally completed my first children's book and submitted it to two different agents with a proposal for two further book ideas. Needless to say the standard rejections arrived quickly and in close succession. Although, It hurt less than I thought it would (not trying to put a brave face on it- honest!) it has raised a few questions and I thought I would seek some advice from fellow mnetters as to what to do next.

Do the rejections mean that it's just not good enough and therefore I need to amend my ms/ book proposal/ covering letter before sending it out again? Or shall I just send it to a few more agents as it stands and see how it goes? After tirelessly researching the W and A yearbook my POA was to exhaust the appropriate agents and then move onto the publishers- Is this the best route to take? Any advice or hand holding through this very scary process would be greatly appreciated.

TunipTheUnconquerable Tue 13-Aug-13 15:32:44

Firstly, two rejections don't mean very much.
However, are you SURE it's as good as it could be? Who else has read it? Has it been through multiple drafts and been subjected to the ruthless scrutiny of some non-related-to-you beta readers or a critique group?

MooncupGoddess Tue 13-Aug-13 15:37:25

If they were agents who you'd carefully chosen for their experience in the relevant market, and they just sent you a standard rejection without any proper feedback, then I'd definitely try to get some more feedback from beta readers, preferably those with experience of getting published.

If you send the book to everyone you can and they all reject it, you have nowhere to go if you then improve the proposal and want to resubmit.

thoughtsandall Tue 13-Aug-13 16:41:03

Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. I am part of a creative writing group and the story has been critiqued by the class and the teacher ( who is a published children's author) and it has also been through a beta reader ( who I met on a previous novel writing course and has relevant experience in this field). It has been drafted, edited and drafted and edited some more so I thought it was as good as it could be ( Although there us always room for inprovement even at this point, but I needed to stop at some point! )

The rejections were standard rejections both saying that due to the number of ms they receive they do not give individual feedback. Is it worth sending it out a couple more times in the hope of getting some feedback and then doing revisions if necessary? Would it be better sending it straight to publishers? Thanks again for the advice-( it's a huge learning curve and advice at this stage is invaluable)

thoughtsandall Tue 13-Aug-13 17:02:31

Please ignore the spelling errors- am multi- tasking (cooking tea and typing with my two boys pulling me to hunt fossils in the garden!). Oh the joys!

TunipTheUnconquerable Tue 13-Aug-13 17:23:23

I'm not sure I really get where you are with it, sorry.
If you've made it as good as you can, why would you change tack after only 2 rejections? On the other hand, if you can see ways it could be improved, why would you not just get on and do that?
Are you researching the agents via Twitter and their websites as well as the Yearbook? The yearbook entries don't really tell you much.

I think if it was me I would send out at least 6-10 submissions before concluding anything from that. There are lots of agents and some of them don't mind someone submitting something a second time if it's been seriously revised (this is what they've been saying on #askagent chats on Twitter).
If you've only subbed to two, you might have picked agents who only take on new clients once in a blue moon, or ones who have a subjective dislike of the thing your story happens to be about, or who have just taken on a client in a very similar area.

thoughtsandall Tue 13-Aug-13 18:25:14

Thanks Turnip. I was planning to send it to a few more but I think I panicked in the face of rejection and my confidence took a nose dive. I have researched an awful lot and some of the things I've read have made me second guess myself and wonder what I may have done wrong/ could do differently. 6-10 agents sounds like a good point to aim towards and I will stop putting off and send some more off tonight. What is an appropriate number of agents to sub to at any one time? Thanks again for taking time away from your writing to reply.

TunipTheUnconquerable Tue 13-Aug-13 21:06:38

Good luck!
The real problem is what you do if you submit to 10 or so and don't have anything back other than form rejections. I think if I get to that point, once I've exhausted all my friendly betas/helpful online critique groups, I would probably bite the bullet and pay for a critique from a professional, if I truly couldn't work out what was wrong.
Main thing is to keep going. Are you writing your next?

thoughtsandall Wed 14-Aug-13 09:39:24

That's really useful advice- thanks. I am supposed to be writing the next book once the submission of the first is underway- but it has taken up so much if my time to prepare that I am left with very little time to actually write at the moment. Sending it out into the ether wasn't something I planned to do but was encouraged to do so by my writing group. I just wanted my boys to have a story I'd written on their bookshelves but it has snowballed from there really. It is all good experience and it is amazing how quickly your motivations change- I am finding the process all I can think about at the moment! How are things going for you turnip? I recognise from other threads that you are an experienced writer. What are you working on at the moment?

MooncupGoddess Wed 14-Aug-13 10:24:06

It sounds like you've prepared really well, so yes definitely try a few more agents.

If you're not already doing this, it's always worth mentioning relevant other clients that the agency represents in your covering letter so that they know you've targeted them carefully and know what they're about, as opposed to picking them at random from the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook (you'd be astonished how many people do this).

thoughtsandall Wed 14-Aug-13 12:07:13

Thanks for the tip mooncup. In one of the letters I referenced another writer/ book that I felt was of a similar genre but I was uncertain of how to word this as I didn't want to the agent to think I was comparing myself to said writer ( if this makes sense?). How would you word this to make it clearer? I also referenced in the other letter something that particular agent had specified on their website as I felt my book fulfilled that remit (clearly it didn't, but I live in hope!). I have sent to a couple more agents this morning and if they send rejections I will go back to the drawing board. The reality is that my work just may not be good enough but it is the best I can do with the knowledge that I have at the moment. Really looking forward to getting on with my second book as that seems to have stalled over the summer. Are you working on anything at the moment?

MooncupGoddess Wed 14-Aug-13 14:03:55

I'm on the other side of the fence! (But no experience with children's so I can only speak very generally.)

I think I'd say something like 'I wondered if, as the agent for XXX, you might be interested in my book project, which is aimed at a very similar market of pre-teen fantasy readers [or whatever].'

Bear in mind that your proposal will first have to get past the minion who handles the slush pile (looking really professional and well-targeted is probably enough for this) and then have to actually excite the agent in question. So, it needs to have a real freshness/compellingness about it, rather than just being 'quite good'. It's hard to properly explain the difference so this is possibly an unhelpful thing to say blush

thoughtsandall Wed 14-Aug-13 18:04:22

That's really helpful mooncup- thank you. Any tips or advice at this stage is great so thanks for taking time to share your insider wisdom. I totally get what you mean about it exciting the agent but there just seems so many hurdles prior to getting to this stage- my ms may never get through the slush pile and I probably won't know if it has or not. It's the first time I have been through the process so am looking to learn from it in whatever form that learning takes. Do some people sub straight to publishers? Is that an alternative route to take? Or does it follow that if it is rejected by agents it will most likely rejected by publishers too?

TunipTheUnconquerable Thu 15-Aug-13 10:24:07

I definitely know people on online writing forums who got rejected by agents but picked up by publishers, particularly small presses (which are becoming increasingly important in some areas, though I don't know if that's true for the age group you're writing).
However, I have heard that publishers tend to take longer to reply.
I think my instinct would be to exhaust the agents first and then keep trying with publishers, just in case.

MooncupGoddess Thu 15-Aug-13 11:01:09

The big publishers probably won't accept unsolicited submissions (check their websites to find out). However, with smaller publishers, if your book exactly fits their list or a particular series, it's certainly worth a go.

Do your absolute best to find out the name of the relevant editor and email them directly with your MS/proposal attached. This is more likely to engender a proper reply than sending a hard copy in the post.

thoughtsandall Sun 18-Aug-13 21:30:08

Thanks to all for the valuable advice, it's been really helpful. Will keep you posted- (would like to insert a smiley face to finish off but have absolutely no idea how to do so! )

thoughtsandall Mon 19-Aug-13 15:30:18

Thanks to all for the valuable advice, it's been really helpful. Will keep you posted- (would like to insert a smiley face to finish off but have absolutely no idea how to do so! )

Punkatheart Tue 20-Aug-13 08:38:37


I will do one for you. Good luck. Yes publishers/agents do like you mentioning a well-published writer - they love to put people in categories to market them.

thoughtsandall Tue 27-Aug-13 22:20:11

Thanks punk. Am new to mumsnet and have no idea how to do all the fancy bits (Stumbled across the creative writing thread when they ran the walkers book competition- did anyone have any luck with that btw?)

Another email rejection this morning- 3 down just one more to go. If that's a no go then I will definitely need to rethink my strategy sad. (Yippee- I did it)

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