Agent’s feedback

I’ve received feedback for the entire manuscript from one of the agents. Yay! She didn’t think it right for her. Boo! But she loved the language and world-building – double yay, considering I’m writing in my second language.

The plot is too slow, not suspenseful enough, too many characters. These are all valid points, I guess. I’m still waiting for four more feedbacks – two beta readers, one paid editor and PW’s review for ABNA. I expect them to be on similar topics, really. By the end of this month I should have a lot to think about for the next redraft.

 -*-

I’m slightly losing track of my rejections. One from Marsh Agency, one more from Marjacq.

And the reward for the rudest agency goes to…

Anubis LLA.

Just a scribbled ‘Not for us’ on the margin of the cover letter.

The hell…?

If you can’t be bothered so much, why do you insist on snail-mail submissions? Those things cost money, you know.

*

Only one other rejection this week, from Kirsten Wolf of Wolf Literary Services. Standard rejection, but much nicer in tone than most.

Rejections summary 1

11.02 – London Independent Books (s-mail)

We regret, however, that they did not quite ‘click’ with us and it is for this reason that we are returning them to you as we do not like to take on material which we cannot sell with total enthusiasm.

11.02 – Felicity Blunt, Curtis Brown (s-mail)

Although the premise of the story is interesting, I unfortunately did not connect to writing itself the way I would need in order to take it on today’s tough fiction marketplace.

09.02 – Nelson Agency

Thank you so much for sending the Nelson Literary Agency your query. We’d like to apologize for the impersonal nature of this standard rejection letter. On average, we receive about 100 email query letters a day and despite that, we do read each and every query letter carefully. Unfortunately, this project is not right for us. Because this business is so subjective and opinions vary widely, we recommend that you pursue other agents. After all, it just takes one “yes” to find the right match.

07.02 – Frances Collin

Thank you for your query. Unfortunately we do not think the project is right for us.

We receive so many queries that it is not possible to reply in detail on an individual basis. We appreciate your writing and wish you success in your publishing career.

06.02 – Barry Goldblatt

Thank you for your query. Unfortunately, your manuscript doesn’t sound like something that’s right for us. We wish you the best of success in placing your work elsewhere

31.01 – Donald Maas

As to your material I’m afraid I will be passing — I’m just not enthusiastic enough about the concept of your story to feel that I’d be the right agent for the project. I realize it is difficult to judge your potential from a query; nevertheless please know that I give serious attention to every letter, outline, and writing sample I
receive.

30.01 – Marjacq

Thank you for your submission to Marjacq Scripts.
Unfortunately, we did not feel that the agency could place this successfully on your behalf.
May we wish you the best of luck in your search for representation.

30.01 – Robert Kirby

Many thanks for your email. Robert is currently focussing on nonfiction projects so is not taking on any fiction.

Sending queries, day 3

I found a couple more US agents that accept e-mails and seem worthwhile, so here they go.
I don’t hold much hope for any of these, as most of them require just a pitching letter, which I’m not that good at writing.

1. Scott Hofman at Folio Literary Agency

Commercial fiction offering. Query letter sent via form.

2. Frances Collin

Fantasy offering. Query letter.

3. Russel Galen at Scovil, Galen & Ghosh

Fantasy offering. Query letter.

4. Ethan Ellenberg Agency

Fantasy offering. Query letter, synopsis and first three chapters in the body of the mail.


5. Barry Goldblatt Literary

Fantasy offering. Query letter, synopsis and first five pages in the body of the mail.


6. Nelson Literary Agency

Fantasy offering. Query letter.

7. Nicole LaBombard at Rees Agency

Fantasy offering. Query letter and first ten pages in the body of the mail.


8. John Silbersack at Trident Media Group

Fantasy offering. Query letter and a brief synopsis.

Sending queries, day 2

Summary of the snail-mail queries sent:

1. Anubis Literary Agency

Fantasy offering. Query letter, brief synopsis and three chapters, sent to submissions department.

2. Artellus Literary Agency

Fantasy offering. Query letter, synopsis and three chapters, sent to submissions department.

3. London Independent Books

Commercial fiction offering. Query letter, brief synopsis and two chapters, sent to Ms Carolyn Whitaker.

4. Conville & Walsh

Commercial fiction offering. Query letter, synopsis and three chapters, sent to submissions department.

5. David Higham

Commercial fiction offering. Query letter, synopsis and three chapters, sent to submissions department.

6. Dorian Literary Agency

Fantasy offering. Query letter, brief synopsis and three chapters, sent to submissions department.

7. Ms Felicity Brown, Curtis Brown

Young adult offering. Query letter, synopsis and three chapters.

8. Mic Cheetham

Fantasy offering. Query letter, synopsis and three chapters, sent to submissions department.

9. Watson Little

Commercial fiction offering. Query letter, synopsis and three chapters, sent to Ms. Sallyanne Sweeney.

10. Writers House (USA)

Young adult offering. Query letter and brief synopsis.

***
Got one more rejection e-mail – from Donald Maas Agency. Too bad, I was hoping they’d show some interest given their usual offering.

First rejections

Well, that was fast! Why can’t all agencies switch to e-mail submissions, again?

Robert Kirby’s assistant said he doesn’t do fiction anymore. Too bad, I liked Kirby’s set of clients.

Marjacq managed to assess my query in half a day and deem it unsuitable. Fair enough, they only had one young adult fantasy book on the clients list, and it doesn’t seem to sell well.

Sending queries, day 1

Today I’m starting sending out the queries. First on the list are the e-mail ones, starting with the UK-based agents.

1. AP Watt agency
 A commercial fiction offering. Query letter and synopsis sent to Mr Jon Elek

2. Ariella Feiner of United Agents

A young adult offering. Query letter, synopsis and 10,000 words excerpt.

3. Darley Anderson

A young adult offering. Query letter, brief synopsis and three chapters, sent to Ms Madeleine Buston

4. Greene & Heaton

A young adult offering. Query letter, synopsis and three chapters, sent to submissions department

5. Anthony Harwood

A commercial fiction offering. Query letter mentioning Alison Goodman, sent to submissions department

6. John Jarrold

A fantasy offering. Query letter mentioning Temeraire and Havemercy and 6 chapters.

7. Marjacq agency

A commercial fiction offering. Query letter, synopsis and three chapters, sent to Mr Philip Patterson

8. Marsh agency

A commercial fiction offering. Query letter, synopsis and three chapters, sent to Ms Hannah Ferguson via online form.

9. MBA agency

A fantasy offering. Query letter, synopsis and three chapters, sent to submissions department

10. Robert Kirby of United Agents

A commercial fiction offering. Query letter, synopsis and three chapters. Note: Kirby is Rob Brydon’s agent. Use it somehow? 😉

11. Rogers, Coleridge & White

A young adult offering. Query letter, synopsis and three chapters, sent to Claire Wilson

12. Toby Eady Associates

A commercial fiction offering. Query letter, synopsis and three chapters, sent to submissions department

13. Wade & Doherty

A fantasy offering. Query letter mentioning David Gemmell, synopsis and 10,000 words excerpt sent to Ms Broo Doherty

Next are US-based agencies accepting e-mail:

1. Inkwell Management

A commercial fiction offering. Query letter and two chapters in the body of e-mail sent to submissions department

2. Jill Grinberg

A young adult offering. Query letter mentioning Westerfeld and Goodman, and 50 pages excerpt

3. Laura Dail agency

A young adult offering. Query letter, brief synopsis and 5 page excerpt sent to submissions department

4. Maas Agency

A fantasy offering. Query letter, brief synopsis and 5 page excerpt in the body of e-mail sent to Ms Jennifer Jackson

5. Matt Bialer

A fantasy offering. Query letter, bio, synopsis and three chapters.

6. Kristen Wolf agency

A commercial fiction offering. Query letter and three chapters sent to Kristen Wolf

Phew. That’s a lot of work. Over the week I’ll be sending out the snail-mails – 10 agents altogether.

Edit: 7. Scott Hoffman of Folio Lit

A fantasy offering. Query letter sent via website form.

The Sample Curse

You pick up a book from the shelf. Or download a sample from the Amazon. It starts great. There’s break-neck action from the start, the characters are sketched roughly but believable, the setting is hinted at but not disappointing. You’re convinced. You pay for the book and start reading.

And then, after the first few chapters, it stalls. The plot sags, the characters wander about aimlessly, the scenery overburdens you with too much piled-on detail. You have fallen the victim of the Sample Curse. A book written with the sole purpose of enticing an agent.

In this competitive market, it seems, a Sample is everything. The first few chapters, the first few thousand words. It’s the ultimate lure, a honey trap set for the reader. The publisher – whether a corporate giant or a small indie – is only interested in you until the moment you part with your money. It doesn’t matter what happens next. You’ve been trapped.

Not every agent, editor or publisher is blind-folded like that, but many are, or at least they like to make themselves out to be. And they like to claim this is what the market demands. Perhaps they’re right – for now.

In evolutionary terms, this is equivalent to what fish, amphibians and reptiles do with their young: put all your effort into spawning a lot of eggs, and not worry about the outcome. Perhaps even perish in the process. Some of the eggs will hatch, some of the young will survive – a certain amount of the books will sell and maybe even grow up into bestsellers.

But the amphibians and reptiles do not rule the world. Mammals and birds do, because they take care for their young, nurture them, allow them to develop at their own pace. The really popular books, the ‘cult classics’ are like that: they start off slowly and then grow in a peaceful, nutritious environment into a beautiful rare rhinoceros.

I’d like to hope that the rhinoceroses of the book world will one day prevail over the frogs and that at some point we will be rid of the Sample Curse.