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Author Topic: query response
KStar
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I got my first query response this morning, for my novel. This is my first response, ever. Somehow I was convinced I wouldn't be a nervous wreck, but I was wrong. The response wasn't bad I think...
He said he wanted to read 50 pages and a synopsis. Does anyone know if this is a good sign? How many pages do they normally ask for?

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annepin
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Girl, any request for a partial is good sign, in my book! The alternative being that they chuck your query in the recycle bin. Give yourself a pat on the back--you've just made it to the next stage!

As for the normal number of pages requested, that depends on the agent, from what I understand. Fifty pages sounds pretty good to me, though. If it's a 300-page book, that's like 1/6 of it right there!


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Igwiz
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This is a good sign. At least he's interested, and now he's asking for a "partial" to see whether or not he likes your writing and the beginning of the plot.

The synopses is to make sure that he can see that the plot is solid and intersting. For an example of a synopsis, take a look at some of the query/synopses that JeanneT posted on November 2, 2007 in the Feedback and Fragments for Novels section. There is an example, as well as comments from others.

Good luck,

T2


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MartinV
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I envy you.
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Doctor
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Kick Ass!!!

That's amazing!!! Especially if that's your first response ever!! maybe you should give us a fragment so we can emulate you. cheers!


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JamieFord
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Congrats, your query worked! That's NO small feat. Different agents will ask for different partials. I've had some ask for 100 pages, or as little as 20. Don't worry about the exact number, just find a natural break in the story around the amount he's asking for.

Since your query letter worked, keep querying! Don't wait to hear back from this one before sending out to others. Agents will assume that you're sending out multiple queries.

Again, congrats!


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Doctor
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KStar, how long have you been working on this novel and how many revisions did you put it through before deciding it was ready enough to share with the world? You experience is keenly interesting to me because you're only a few steps ahead of me, and it sure is an exciting ride.
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JFLewis
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Yep, this is great news!

If they like the partial, then they'll request the balance of the manuscript. Did they mention the reading time? For my agent, it was about six weeks. The waiting is agony.

--Jeremy


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nitewriter
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Is this good? Are you kidding me? This is FABULOUS.

Pages asked for will vary. Some will want the first three chapters. Others will simply want a certain number of pages.

Congratulations on this - you have tantalized an editor to the point he wants to see more - no small thing. Send in your best. Make the prose sing. Write a crisp synopsis and you just may have yourself a contract. Congratulations!

[This message has been edited by nitewriter (edited February 21, 2008).]


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KStar
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Wow! I am getting really excited reading all your posts! Thanks!

This was a book I started on 10/14/07. I finished it on 1/14/08. I was extremely nit-picky while writing it and then did 2 full reads/revisions in the last month. Then I had a few trusted friends read it and did a little more tweaking after getting their critiques.

I started on my query letter on 2/14 (I am obsessed with scheduling if you haven't noticed) and I got my first response today.

I took your advice and sent out more queries today. I'll keep you all updated if anything good happens.


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skadder
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So you wrote it in 2 months? How much were you writing per day, what is the length of the novel? That's very quick.

Congratualtions.


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rickfisher
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That is really great news. And it's okay that you sent out more queries.

However--you shouldn't send out any more PARTIALS until you hear back from the first one. So if someone else responds to your query saying they'd like to see more, you're going to have to let them know that another agent is currently looking at the book. Neither agent will be very happy with you if they find that you've sent two of THOSE out at the same time. (Unless they both say that they accept simultaneous subs, and even then they should both be told.)


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annepin
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Wow, KStar, that's an impressive schedule! At that rate you could be, like, cranking out four or five books a year.
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KStar
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rickfisher- Thanks for that bit of advice. I'll make sure not to do that. The agent is supposed to get back to me in 6 weeks, so that will give everyone else a chance to respond.

skadder-I wrote it in 3 months actually. The novel is about 95,000 words. I tried to do 2500 words a day. I missed some days but it averaged out to about 1000 words a day. I really crammed at the end, writing for about 3 full weekends so I could finish on schedule


I was reading an advice letter in WOTF a few months back, where someone told a man that the reason he wasn't publishing anything was because he wasn't starving. I had an "aha" moment... if I don't write, I won't sell. So I started treating writing like a job, just as important as my actual job (I write at least 25 hours a week.)

Anyhow, that's my story.


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JeanneT
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quote:
However--you shouldn't send out any more PARTIALS until you hear back from the first one. So if someone else responds to your query saying they'd like to see more, you're going to have to let them know that another agent is currently looking at the book. Neither agent will be very happy with you if they find that you've sent two of THOSE out at the same time. (Unless they both say that they accept simultaneous subs, and even then they should both be told.)

I am not sure that is correct. Generally speaking, if an agent wants or expects an "exclusive" they'll say so. Submitting to an agent is different than submitting to a publisher.

In talking to an agent recently, the first question he asked was what other agents had the ms. They generally assume that you not only send out queries but also send out partials and even completes. If they don't want you to, they generally bring it up is my understanding.

In dealing with an agent it is called an exclusive and very few agents ask for it on a partial. I've known writers who had out as many as half a dozen partials at a time.

[This message has been edited by JeanneT (edited February 22, 2008).]


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annepin
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<aside>welcome back, JeanneT!<>

Really? Did they want names, or just a sense of the number of people? If they wanted names, did you give it to them? My first reaction was that it wasn't any of their business who else had it, as long as I disclosed other people had it.


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JeanneT
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Thanks, annepin.

My response was that one other was looking at it and that I would check to see if giving the name was all right. I had heard that this wasn't an unusual question, so I wasn't surprised at it coming up.

When I checked with the other agent (the two happen to be friends I know from one of their blogs besides being a fantasy agent is a bit cliquish) she said, sure let him know that I'm looking at it.

I don't know if all agents would have reacted the same. Anyway, I'm still in a holding pattern with several agents looking at the ms so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Edit: And KStar I forgot to mention--a request for a partial isn't a good thing--It's a GREAT thing! Congratulations!

[This message has been edited by JeanneT (edited February 22, 2008).]


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Doctor
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KStar-

What is your genre? And how did you go through the process of selecting what agents to query, etc, and how long did that take? As I said you're only narrow steps ahead of me so I'd really appreciate some more detail, advice, insight, etc. Same with you JeanneT it sounds like your experience could offer me a lot.


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KStar
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My novel is contemporary YA. I have been researching agents on writers market and in a book of literary agents I bought at the bookstore for a while. I checked out each one's website, checked the individual agent and read their blogs or bios, I just tried to choose the ones who I thought would like me.
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JeanneT
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I write heroic fantasy.

My method of selecting agents to query is fairly work intensive. I use PM and Locus to try to narrow down agents who are actively selling fantasy. I check who they represent and try to find an author they represent who writes novels similar in genre and subgenre to mine--even better if they have a similar theme and a female MC. I may still query ones who represent other types of fantasy but they'll be much further down the list.

I then check their guidelines and blogs to be sure that what I have as their requirements for their query packet is accurate.

Along the way, I make a spreadsheet of the agents, agency, what they want in a submission packet, what they have sold that is similar to my work and who it is by which I will use to personalize the query. I don't worry too much at this point about whether they think like me since I'm not any to sure you can tell by a website or blog. My big concern is that they represent and sell the type of writing that I do. Making sure we would work well together for me will come when it comes to the point of talking. Then we feel each other out and make that decision from personal contact.

Whether this is an ideal way to do it--or if there IS an ideal way to do it--is anybody's guess. But it's mine.

[This message has been edited by JeanneT (edited February 23, 2008).]


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KStar
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Wow JeanneT, you have it down to a real science!

I obviously have checked that they have made a good amount of sales. My first choices were agents that represent authors I feel I am similar to, but in researching them, I saw that there were some people I didn't think I wanted to work with, and some that I did within an agency.

My top choice, I queried first. Then narrowed it down to my top 5 choices and queried them. Now I'm picking up the agents that would be suitable, and that represent what I write, but that I'm not super excited about.

Anyways, I got a great start on my next novel last night. I realize that a career in writing is going to put an end to my social life! But I enjoyed it and I'm about 7,500 words into the next one. I have to do something to keep my mind off the queries... I am still nervously awaiting my responses.


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JeanneT
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We'll see if having it down to a science gets me an agent. I too am working on another novel (two actually) to keep from biting my fingernails.

I spread my net a bit wider. There are three agents who I would willingly cut off a limb to have as an agent. But there are quite a few more that I consider suitable from their history of sales. My total list is 50 agents but I'm sending out the queries about 10 or so at a time. That way if I don't seem to get good results I can tweak my query letter.

And then there is Neska's Tattoo which I decided not to query a few months ago (well, I did send out a handful of queries and got two requests for partials on it but then trunked temporarily) after posting some synopsis and query letter stuff. I decided to totally re-write the last third and haven't had the stomach for it. Doing that big a re-write is just intimidating. So I have lots to keep me busy. I will NOT check my email 500 times a day.

[This message has been edited by JeanneT (edited February 23, 2008).]

[This message has been edited by JeanneT (edited February 23, 2008).]


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rickfisher
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quote:
Generally speaking, if an agent wants or expects an "exclusive" they'll say so.
Wow. I wonder if things have changed a lot in the last dozen years, or if I was just misinformed back then. Or, more likely, I was informed correctly and just misunderstood it.

In any case, JeanneT, thanks for straightening me out on this issue.


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JeanneT
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Rick, it may have changed. I wasn't subbing to agents back then. There is a lot of misinformation around about the whole publishing process including getting agents that all of us have believed at one time or another. I thought the same thing until I saw some posts on another forum--a brow slapping moment. I had assumed that if you couldn't simultaneous sub to publications, that you couldn't to agents.

That's why sharing information is so important. The more we know the better.


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