Querying UK Agents?

Submission protocol, query etiquette, and strategies that work

Querying UK Agents?

Postby oldhousejunkie » 27 Oct 2010, 18:58

I recently stumbled across a UK agency that I might want to query. I understand that the submission protocol is different, but I don't know if they would accept a US author. They didn't mention anything in their submission guidelines.

I just thought it might be an option to pursue since my novel takes place in the US and in England.

Does anyone have experience with this?
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Re: Querying UK Agents?

Postby cheekychook » 27 Oct 2010, 19:41

I don't have direct experience with it, but I have stumbled across some UK agents who do work with American authors and some who do not. Same goes for Canadian agents. I have no idea about the legalities involved, or about the pros and cons, but it seems some agents are more open to it than others.
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Re: Querying UK Agents?

Postby sarahdee » 27 Oct 2010, 22:21

Unless it says so otherwise I don't see any reason why not. Do read the authors pages well though as I found there were many that I could not query. They often want UK resident authors as they like the face to face time and I was ruled out as even though I am English and my story is set in England I live abroad. On at least two I nearly queried this info was buried in the web pages not indicated clearly on the submissions page.

If you want to look at UK authors try www.writersandartists.co.uk for agents and someone posted a really good post about the different format for queries (its submissions not queries and the content/layout differs).
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Re: Querying UK Agents?

Postby oldhousejunkie » 28 Oct 2010, 06:39

They often want UK resident authors as they like the face to face time.


This could be the reason that I can use to convince my hubby about moving to England...or at least Northern Ireland.

Thanks to you both for the input. It's probably a last resort type of thing. I only thought of it because I've started looking at the author's "thanks" section in the back to see who their agent is. The book I finished last night was a British author who lives in Seattle (and writes in my genre), so I thought it might be worth researching.

Thanks again.
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Re: Querying UK Agents?

Postby dgaughran » 03 Nov 2010, 05:09

Most UK agents accept worldwide submissions. However, as many agents now switch over to accepting e-mail submissions (they are quite a bit behind the US: many agencies - and almost all of the old, established names - insist on postal submissions), I have noticed a trend where some agents are starting to specifically rule out US clients (only). Presumably this is to ward off a deluge of submissions, and their thinking may be that these writers have probably done the rounds in the US and haven't snagged an agent, so they are playing the numbers and assuming they won't miss that much great stuff, certainly not enough to put the hours into reading all the extra new submissions from US writers. It's only a small number of agents that have this policy at the moment, but this may grow in the future as more and more UK agents accept e-submissions and their workloads grow accordingly.

I am from Ireland (where there are maybe three literary agents, and one doesn't do fiction), so I started off submitting to the UK. An agent advised me that I may have better luck in the US as my "style is more American" (whatever that means), and because my story is set in South America. He was right. While I have a handful of partial/full requests from UK agents, I have a lot more from the US. I still submit to both, but its now tilted more to the US.

As a couple of other posters have mentioned, the submission process is often quite different (there is not as much emphasis on the query letter, but a huge importance is placed on the synopsis), and if you have any questions about that, fire away.

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Re: Querying UK Agents?

Postby oldhousejunkie » 03 Nov 2010, 16:17

Thanks for the insight, Dave!

I checked out the Writers and Artists Book and found a few agencies that I might query eventually. I noticed that a lot of them will actually comment on your submission regardless of asking for a partial. I thought it might be worth submitting just for the feedback. Good luck to you.

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Re: Querying UK Agents?

Postby dgaughran » 06 Mar 2011, 09:30

Sorry to resurrect this thread (missed this somehow), but I think it's important to make a point for future readers considering querying in the UK.

I think you are overestimate the amount of "feedback" most people are likely to get from a UK agent. I read the same thing in the Writer's & Artist's book too, but it's simply not the case. With regard to postal submissions, many were ignored, despite the provision of a SAE. The ones I did get back tended to be a printed form rejection. Now, while that may have been related to the quality of my submission, I have actually found I am more likely to get "feedback" from US agents, regardless of the point at which the submission is rejected.

And indeed, I have never gotten any "feedback" on a UK postal submission other than a form rejection or silence. Whereas a few US postal submissions (and there have been very few), generated feedback and/or requests.

Overall, the response has been better from the US, and the feedback has been greater in quality and quantity. Whether that is related to my manuscript resonating with US agents more than UK agents is impossible for me to say.
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Re: Querying UK Agents?

Postby Sleeping Beauty » 07 Mar 2011, 00:04

Thanks for the update, David. I'm looking to query UK agents, even though the pool is lessened, because I think my MS will find a better home there.

I'm trying to navigate the Writers and Artists site now. How I wish the UK and Ireland had an equivalent to America's Query Tracker!
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Re: Querying UK Agents?

Postby sarahdee » 24 Mar 2011, 00:08

Sleeping Beauty wrote: How I wish the UK and Ireland had an equivalent to America's Query Tracker!


Many Uk agents are on Query Tracker - just use the country filter. Not all but I guess those that are will be most likely to be internet savvy and accept e-queries.
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Re: Querying UK Agents?

Postby jeremybatesbooks » 16 Jul 2011, 02:40

ive had communications with several UK agents who don't seem to care if you're american or canadian
but i've also had a couple who've replied with something along the lines of, "Thanks, but we don't rep American authors."
so i guess it's a case by case thing
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Re: Querying UK Agents?

Postby dgaughran » 16 Jul 2011, 03:09

Hi Jeremy,

It's six months since I've sent a query, so things may have changed.

When I was querying, I was seeing the beginnings of what looked like a trend for UK agents not to accept overseas writers. One wrote candidly on their blog that this was because they assumed that US writers in particular had exhausted all the options at home, and were now shopping what the agent described as a "probably unpublishable" manuscript. The agent admitted that instituting a "no overseas submissions" rule may cause them to miss some gems, but was necessary to stem the tide.

This was frustrating for me as I am from Ireland, where there are three literary agents, and one doesn't do fiction. Some of these UK agents with this policy would take my submission, some wouldn't. US agents, of course, rarely have such a policy, but I have come across it.

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Re: Querying UK Agents?

Postby Nathan Bransford » 17 Jul 2011, 13:51

Here's my post on that, which goes equally for international authors seeking US agents and US authors seeking international agents: http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2007/12 ... rseas.html

Essentially, there is usually a natural "home" market for a book, and you're probably best off querying agents in that country.
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Re: Querying UK Agents?

Postby Heather B » 18 Jul 2011, 17:34

At least you guys have options. In Australia there are maybe three agents that rep fiction, and only one of those (that I'm aware of) is actually open for submissions. Publishers are harder. They play the game of ready, set, go and open for submissions at random time and include a cut-off date. So if you plan on going straight to a Publisher (which is the norm in Aus) you really need to be all over the sub guidelines.

So when it comes to querying, we really need to go overseas. It's not an option of 'exhausting all resources' as there are very few to exhaust. If all agents decided to close their doors to foreign submission you could pretty much kiss the days of the Australian author goodbye :(

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