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Mentioning agency name in query when you have an offer

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  #1  
Old 03-19-2010, 08:05 PM
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Default Mentioning agency name in query when you have an offer


Certain agents (in fact, most who blog) say that if you're sending a query and already have an offer on the table (from a reputable agent), they'd like to know.

Is it acceptable to say in a query (in any order):

Dear Mr. Awesome-Agent,

[paragraph 1]

[paragraph 2]

[Reputable Agent] at [Reputable Agency] has offered me representation for my novel, but before accepting any offer, I wanted to query other agents I regard highly.

[blabla],

Thank you for your time,
[Signature]
Most agents say they absolutely want you to e-mail (even call them) if they've requested a full before you would accept any offer, but they didn't seem so insistent if you were just querying.

Then again if it's not ethically acceptable to mention the agency (providing it's well known, like Writer's House for example), how would they know to take it seriously?

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Old 03-19-2010, 08:08 PM
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You're kind of breaking up there at the end, but...
If you have an offer from one agency, why would you be querying another one?
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Old 03-19-2010, 08:14 PM
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Because you had a list of "most desirable candidates", which you were keeping for the very end after receiving enough rejections so you could improve your query, in an effort to heighten your chances to the maximum before trying for your dream agents? In this case the offer would have arrived sooner than you had expected or planned in your querying stages.
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Old 03-19-2010, 08:18 PM
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I have no idea what that sentence means. Or the last two before it. But everything about it just sounds totally fucking crazy.

But what I would do if I had an offer from one agency but wanted another one, would be to call up the one I had a hard-on for and tell them I'd been offered a deal but they were my dream date so would they consider taking a quick look.
They'd probably tell me to fuck off. Or not.

Or sign with the little guys for one book, then shop another book to the hotties.

Does any of this make any sense to you?
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Old 03-19-2010, 08:21 PM
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It does, but it's not that fucking crazy trooper!

Some people are actually lucky enough to have more than one offer, so if you could use your offers to lure your dream agent in, I was wondering if there was an acceptable way to do it
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Old 03-19-2010, 08:35 PM
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So if you more than one offer, take the one you prefer.
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Old 03-19-2010, 08:51 PM
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I think he's saying "If you get accepted by agent A but want to be represented by agent B, would telling agent B that agent A is willing to represent their book increase the chances of agent B accepting them".

Well, I can only offer my opinion and no real know-how, but if you've been accepted by a very widely known agency then the agent could be like "Wow, they like it so I should get in on that action". However, writing it in the letter like that makes you look like you're showing off, so maybe try to be a bit less formal about it (like if you happen to call the agent throw it in casually).
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Old 03-19-2010, 10:52 PM
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Well, but then he said he had two offers, so....?

I think the whole scenario is pretty unlikely.


But I sure as hell wouldn't "throw it in casually". I say, "Look, I can sign on with XXX agency right now, but I really had my heart set on you guys and I'm conflicted between settling for a sure thing or getting with somebody I think is a great fit. I'm not used to this sort of thing and was hoping you could advise me. Is there anyway I can get a look from you guys, and what ethics do you see applying to this?"

Last edited by Lin; 03-19-2010 at 10:54 PM..
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Old 03-20-2010, 08:18 AM
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I do think Lin has a point; they're likely to appreciate honesty more than if you try to make it 'casual' (there's nothing casual about this tbh).
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Old 03-21-2010, 01:23 AM
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Lin's right on several levels.

If you've queried an agent you wanted to represent you, and they make you an offer, but you now want to stall to see if you'll get a better offer elsewhere... you risk ending up with nothing. Why did you query these guys at all if they're only second-best?

If there's another agent you really want more badly than any other, why haven't you already queried them?

And why are you here now and not on the phone to dream agent asking them if they want you?
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Old 03-21-2010, 11:11 AM
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When you're a debut novelist, there's just so much experience in your bag to guide your decisions.

Once an agent has sent you a form rejection, you can't query them again. Not for at least six months, and after a title change, according to many agents. Otherwise they might remember your query or your title no matter how much you changed it and reject you again.

So why would you start querying your dream agents with a query at first that is unlikely to be at its best? Most agents suggest to query as widely as available, to take time before accepting an offer (and not hesitate to go see elsewhere to make sure the agent who just offered representation is the best choice) but to query only five to ten agents at a time.

Some will give you valuable feedback, so you can re-adjust your query and then move on to the next five or ten in your list, and each time, you improve your odds by improving your query.

That's not rocket science, and this strategy on how to proceed has been discussed on countless blogs (agents's and authors's alike). You're not suppose to call anyone either, especially not at the query stage (you could call if that agent had your full already though), unless you want to be shitlisted.
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Old 03-21-2010, 11:14 AM
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Don't even THINK about changing the title and re-querying an agency. You don't have to be all that experienced to realize that's a way bad idea.

So you're a debut novelist without experience, but are really sure of how things work and ready to argue with people who have some experience?
Then why bother to ask questions?
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Old 03-21-2010, 06:24 PM
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The advice of changing title and re-querying after you had done major overhaul of the MS is actually an advice that came from both Kristin Nelson (Nelson Agency) and Jessica Faust (Book Ends LLC).

Considering their pedigree, you telling me their advice is bad and they don't know wtf they're talking about?

Here's a recent blog entry that made me ask the question I asked here:
http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/...do-i-want.html

Last edited by FK7; 03-21-2010 at 06:38 PM..
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Old 03-21-2010, 08:42 PM
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Probably what I'm telling you is that you misinterpreted. But if Kristi said that, by all means keep pestering her with the same rejected shit over and over with different titles.
Think about it a minute. Do you REALLY think agents want to keep getting the same swill they've passed on over and over? Use your head.

To bad the wasn't at the last gathering of agents I was around. They were swapping stories and scoffing at people who come around every few months with the same shit with different titles.

But bottom, line... you just go right ahead and do whatever you like. Again, I have no idea why you would ask questions when you've got it all wired. Send me a wire from Stockholm.
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Old 03-21-2010, 08:49 PM
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I wouldn't re-query an agent twice, because I know how to get a clue. That wasn't the point of my original question either. I just said some agents have been asked the question, and that it does happen.

My question was in regard to mentioning a name or not in a query, in regard to the Janet Reid blog entry I linked you to.
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Old 03-21-2010, 08:51 PM
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She recently amended one of her FAQ:

5. Do I want to hear from you IF you've gotten an offer of representation and I'm reading your full: YES
How: email promptly please.
What: Let me know you're considering an offer, and how much time you have for your decision. I like to know who's offering too.
Guess I answered my own original question. Seems like mentioning a name is acceptable but not at the query stage.
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Old 03-21-2010, 08:51 PM
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Have fun
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Old 03-21-2010, 10:02 PM
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Originally Posted by FK7 View Post
So why would you start querying your dream agents with a query at first that is unlikely to be at its best?
Why would you start querying a second rate MS?
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Old 03-21-2010, 10:14 PM
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Who said anything about MS? I'm talking about the query.
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Old 03-23-2010, 08:23 AM
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So why send out a second-rate query?
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Old 03-23-2010, 12:48 PM
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As (I'm guessing) the original question is hypothetical:

You query a bunch of agents. And then a bunch more. And maybe some more.

You're not going to get an offer at this point.

Next step is that maybe one or two of the first bunch will ask to see more. Whoopee. Maybe one will ask for an exclusive - they want to see it, exclusively, don't show it to anyone else.

You have options at this point. You can say no. You can say yes, but give a time limit (yes, you're allowed, but make it reasonable). You can say no, sorry, xyz already has it until thursday week. Whatever the answer, be honest. Don't make stuff up.

If your luck holds, one or more agent will make you an offer. You obviously choose the one you think will be the best fit for you. If your dream agent hasn't got back to you, you have a limited time window. You get on the phone, tell them that xyz has offered to represent you, but you'd prefer them. See what they say.
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Old 03-23-2010, 12:48 PM
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I suppose the first query you ever wrote is the best query sent to an agent in your career?

What's your best in 2009 might be average in 2010, because people do improve over time when taking in the constructive critics they get and changing their query.

Querying is an art on itself, like painting and photography is. You can't be at your best at the beginning. You can certainly DO your best though, and send in the most polished query you can devise, but there is always room for improvement.
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Old 03-23-2010, 12:50 PM
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And you don't have a second chance to make a first impression. If your query isn't good enough to send to the best agent, it's not good enough to send to the worst.
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Old 03-23-2010, 02:58 PM
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I fully agree, which is why I'd rather make a bad first impression on a "bad" agent, then perhaps get criticism as I go and improve the query to make a better first impression when you query your most wanted picks.

It's not like an agent sees a query as black or white... there are many gray areas, some agents will say "it's not the best query, not the worst either, but I'd still read it or ask for more pages." At least, that's the sentiment being passed on by various popular blogging agents.
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