Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Subbing, not snubbing

I'm at the stage with my children's book where I'm beginning to make submissions to agents. I've done my research, met a few potential victims at conferences etc, made a few contacts and written a top ten dream list. I am currently carrying that list around with me everywhere. Occasionally I get it out and look at it and sigh. Or stroke it, lovingly...

Ok, my question is: what does everyone think about the etiquette of submitting to more than one agent at a time? I've been told that in the UK it is much preferred if you submit exclusively, wait patiently for your rejection and then move to the next on the list. While not wanting to be unprofessional, how wise is this? It could take months or years until I get a positive response!

Also, it's extremely unlikely, but if I send out the whole ten at once I might find myself in the position of being offered by more than one. Then I could {gasp} choose who represents me. I know, it's a crazy thought that a writer should actually have any control of their own destiny.

Why is it such a big deal to send to more than one at a time? It doesn't mean I'm less interested in any of them. It means I'm realistic.

Thoughts?

7 comments:

liz fenwick said...

Good question. Agents prefer the one at a time thing but when pushed seems to except the multiple. What i am doing is sending them out at one month intervals......I look forward to hearing what other think on this :-)

CTaylor said...

Hiya KayJay

Everything I've read, including the Writers and Artists Yearbook, says it's absolutely fine to submit to more than one agent at a time. Otherwise, as you say, you could spend the next 10 years subbing, waiting, subbing, waiting. In one of my writing communities people regularly sub in batches. i.e. they'll sub to the top 5 agents on their list first and when/if the rejections roll in they'll then sent their MS out to the next 5 and so on (until they run out of agents). It's an approach I'm going to adopt when I finally finish editing my novel.

The only thing I've read you shouldn't do is send an agent more than one MS at a time. You can mention in your cover letter that you've written more than one book and, if they're interested, they may request to see that too.

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

I've done a fair bit of research on this, including reading 'From Pitch To Publication' by Carole Blake (highly recommended) and this website http://www.writersworkshop.co.uk/looking.htm?gclid=CJi4kYqJuY8CFSZOEAodGSTsYg . The general consensus seems to be that multiple submissions are fine by most agents (there are one or two exceptions, but they usually seem to make this clear on their websites) but you MUST say that you're submitting to more than one. Then, assuming one gets back to you with an offer, you can swiftly email all the others to say you've been offered representation so they need to let you know if they're interested. This recently happened to a friend of mine and it was very exciting, even though she ended up with the one who had offered her representation in the first place. Good luck!

NoviceNovelist said...

I'm with Zinnia in this one - I'm planning to send out shortly to the top 3 on my dream list and I've included in my cover letter that I'm doing a multiple submission but I haven't named them. Several agents spoke on this at the Winchester Writer's festival back in June and the concensus was that multiples are accepted. Good luck -loved your thought about the nerve of a writer taking control - God forbid that should happen!!!!!!

Fiona said...

Just to wish you luck. Let us know how you get on...sounds like the most sensible policy to me.

Flowerpot said...

I've sent several out - if you wait for one to come back hyou could wait forever. One agent I sent to in September hasnt come back yet! I think the idea is that no you shouldnt send multiple submissions but everyone knows that you do.

KayJay said...

Thanks so much for all the advice and good luck wishes!

I just wanted to check what everyone else was doing, as I've read and heard so many contradictory things on this from books, the internet, other writers and agents. It seems to me that the situation has changed fairly recently to the US model and agents are (reluctantly) accepting it.

Another point; I don't really understand why I MUST mention that I'm querying other agents, however. I can see that it might be considered 'good manners', but does it really benefit me to give the impression that I'm shopping around, so to speak? I suppose you could argue that if an agent was interested it might prompt them to get in touch more quickly, but then again it might put them off if they think they're one of many! It's also one of those really hard things to phrase in a cover letter:

'Dear Ms X, I SO like you best, but don't think I'm putting all my eggs in one basket, yeah?'

(This is all a bit like dating. Glad I gave that up some time ago!)