Thursday, May 14, 2009

How much do you tell us?

I was asked recently about how much a writer should tell an agent when sending in a query. I find this to be a fairly easy question to answer and yet at the same time, it is difficult due to the complexities (wow, I think I need a cup of coffee).

Let me explain the easy side first.

When you send in that query, keep it simple, keep it to the point. Your job is to sell that book to me and make me want to read more. At this point in the conversation, it is all about the book. I don't want to know about your family life, I don't need to know about your failed agent relationships or the fact that editor X has been a jerk to you. Focus on the book.

Now, we get tougher... and the conversation continues.

Say I ask for more of your manuscript. At this point, we are still at the book phase but now you can add in additional projects you are working on.

But Scott, should I ever tell you about all of that past personal/professional stuff? The answer is YES! I do want to know how things went in the past. I have to know that your manuscript has been shopped around. At some level, I need to know how your personal life is going to work into your writing career.

Now, if you had problems with another agent, that might have been a personality clash. That's fine - we all see that, but I am of the personal opinion that if I have someone that has been jumping around from one agent to another, I may end up on that chopping block too. Now if agencies are closing or the agent dies, that is one thing, but your track record with agents says a lot about you as well.

Please, don't go jumping on the blog now telling me about all the exceptions to the rule. I get all of those. I am talking about those people who really are missing the fact that the agent-writer relationship broke up because of the writer, not the agent.

The thing to remember is what I have said all along. The writer-agent relationship is a very personal one. We have to know there is open communication going on. If not, things fall apart and if you are hiding things from an agent, where can that trust be built?


1 comment:

  1. As a new writer, if my MS is requested and rejected and I have rewritten/imporoved it, is it appropriate to requery the same agent/editors and should this be mentioned in the new query letter?