Batches, and the trap

Submission protocol, query etiquette, and strategies that work
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Batches, and the trap

Post by CharleeVale » October 23rd, 2011, 3:33 pm

All right, this question has been nagging me for a while. I kept convincing myself that I shouldn't ask it because I'm not at the querying stage quite yet but I'm going to ASK IT ANYWAY!

So I'm aware that you're supposed to query in batches, assuming you're going to get rejections and so you don't put all your eggs in one basket. I get it.

But do you put you dream agent in that first batch? Or do you wait?

This is my conundrum. Let say that hypothetically speaking you finish your MS and its awesome. You do your query letter, maybe even get it critiqued by query shark, and it's kick@$$. And it does really well and starts getting offers from the first batch. If you didn't put your dream agent in that batch....what do you do? You can't really tell an agent 'wait...there's someone I want to work with a bit more than you, can you hold that thought while I see what they say?'

Any thoughts you have on this labyrinth lined with bear traps are appreciated.


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Re: Batches, and the trap

Post by HillaryJ » October 23rd, 2011, 4:01 pm


I've seen conflicting advice on this. One school says to send the first batch of queries out there to test your query to see if it's good enough to get you requests. The other school says to put your agents in order of preference and start at the top.

I say, if you haven't put your manuscript and query through readers and critiques and made some changes in response to critiques, you aren't ready to query. But if you have a unique, polished story and a catchy, energetic query, then send it to the agents with whom you want to work. However, do keep in mind that the agent that looks like a match on paper - great sales in your genre, engaging interview and blogposts - might not actually be the best agent for you. Reading is so subjective, and you're looking for a passionate advocate for you and your work. So, be prepared for that "dream agent" to be a moving target.

Best of luck!
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Re: Batches, and the trap

Post by Mira » October 23rd, 2011, 4:39 pm

I like Hilary's answer, especially about checking out the reality of who each agent is.

Although, I might do it alittle differently. I think I'd query my middle-tier agents first. That would give me some feedback and if I got a "bite", it might be someone I'd want to work with. In addition, if my query seemed to be going well, I'd query my top-tier list. IF not, I'd re-work my query before I tried it on my dream folks.

There really is no rush once you have an offer. Agents might not like this, but I think it's fine to collect a few offers, talk to people to get a sense of their style and make a wise choice. Once you have one offer, you know you've got a hot property, so take your time - that's my advice, for what it's worth! :)

And good luck, Regan! :D

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Re: Batches, and the trap

Post by Hillsy » October 24th, 2011, 10:07 am

Personally, in that particular scenario I'd do 2 things.

1) I'd look at the offers of non-"dream agents" and consider if I would take them if said "dream agent" knocked me back. If the anwser is No, then I'd rinse repeat. If Yes then I'd move onto step 2)

2) Batch up a group of agents you rank about the one who offered and query them immediately. Obviously your query and MS has some merit, and you are taking an offer regardless, so what's there to lose. Most should reply within 4-6 weeks and in the mean time simply tell the offerers that you currently have your MS under review elsewhere.

After reading through the various blogs, most agents seem to expect you to shop around and take the best deal for yourself anyways. Just divorce yourself from the personal nature of it and act in a polite, courteous, businesslike manner and you should be fine. If an Agent kicks up a huff because you haven't snatched the offer out of their hands, well, would you want to work with them anyway?

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Re: Batches, and the trap

Post by Sommer Leigh » October 24th, 2011, 12:43 pm

This is such a great question and I know I think about it a lot. I'm not ready to query anything yet and probably won't be for a while, but I still think about these things since half the time I spend not writing I spend reading and trying to learn the business.

And see, I have a dream agent. One, actually, even though I can name a half dozen agents I think I'd love working with. Still, I have a dream agent that I think, barring some unfathombable reason we don't get along, I'd abandon everyone else in the world for. I would like to think this is common, but I don't know.

So having a dream agent in mind, I've thought about when I would query her. I'd like to think I received the best possible advice and put my query through the ringer before starting the process so theoretically it should be perfect for anyone, but with my luck I'd spell my own name wrong with those first few queries as I worked through all my nerves.

I really like Hillary's answers though. That seems to make sense, though I have seen conflicting advice before. I think it will depend entirely on how I'm feeling about the query when I'm ready to get started and what sort of responses I've received from those I've asked to take a look at it.
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Re: Batches, and the trap

Post by oldhousejunkie » October 25th, 2011, 11:57 am

Like the others said, it all depends on the level of revision you have done, the feedback received, and your confidence level.

I have a tendancy to err on the side of caution, so I burned my first twenty odd queries to the majority of my "B list" agents. I sent them in batches of five. There were a few "A list" agents in there. I got form rejects on all but one, which resulted in a full from a very unexpected (but appreciated) source. That was a reject too, so I'm doing one more round of revisions before burning the rest of my list.

I have a two dream agents, but to be honest, my genre is rather narrow, so I can't afford to be too picky. If I were to get multiple offers (in a perfect world), I'd probably research those and pick who I felt was the best fit. I guess what I am saying is that while picking the right agent is very important, getting published is incredibly hard. Depending on the scenario, I'd be inclined to take what I got and run. If your agent didn't turn out to be "the one", at least you would have more background and a better opportunity to snag that ultimate dream agent at a later date. Personally, I think it's all about getting a foot in the door.

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