Sunday, November 18, 2012

November Ask an Agent

I had planned to do the follow up James Bond post today, but then I stumbled across an active #askagent on twitter. I spent an hour reading messages while waiting on laundry at my dad's house. Our washer gave us an early Christmas present by refusing to spin. I figure those answers would be of more interesting than talking about creating a series.  Most of the agents involved represent YA, MG, and children’s genres, though they also rep adult genres.

Since I’m always braver when not face-to-face, I asked four questions and got answers to all of them. I want to add grateful thanks to the agents for sharing their knowledge. Here we go:

If you’ve nudged on a full request and gotten no answer, do you let it go? Molly Ker Hawn and Julia Churchill both responded with nudge again, then move on.

What should I read into a form rejection on a full request? Is it a bad sign? Juliet Mushens said it’s a subjective industry so don’t read too much into it. Sometimes we are too busy for proper feedback.

Is dystopian dead for YA? I’ve heard it is a tough sell. Two agents agreed. They said it was tough but not impossible if they really loved it. I saw many answers to questions about genre and number of POV’s that the answers basically boil down to it depends on the pages and the query letter.

Is it better not to query in December because of the holidays? Juliet Mushens said in some ways it is better as it’s quieter. Interesting answer! You know what I’ll be doing next month.

Some other questions that were asked that I found interesting:

Is swearing okay in YA (excluding the F-bomb)? (Kelly Harvey asked this I believe. Great question!) Answer was swearing should be in keeping with the situation in the manuscript (if it fits the scene), but be aware it might be toned down by an editor.

Should I mention winning a contest? Go ahead and mention but it depends on the query and the pages. Sounded like they didn’t care either way.

Also if you didn’t win a contest but got a request from a small press should you mention that fact? Answer was yes. They’d want to know.

Does being referred by a client give you an edge? It might get you read sooner, but it still depends on the pages and query letter.

Do you need to have a blog? This one made me perk up my ears. Most answered they don’t care. Two said they don’t follow the links in the query letter to check out a writer’s blog. Many said they had clients who didn’t even have a Facebook page.

Does your YA ms need to be part of a series? Are stand alones gaining ground in fantasy? Editors are interested in stand alone books. They also like series.

How many query letters do you get a day? Most responded around 20 a day.

Have you ever been queried on Christmas Day? Yes, but they didn’t read it until a week later.

I’m sure there were many more questions that got answered, but those are the ones that stand out in my memory. If anyone else remembers more, please shout out in the comments. 


  1. You've provide a lot of great information. Many people don't know how helpful Twitter can be in connecting with agents and authors. It can be a great research tool.

  2. This is awesome. I didn't want to go and look up every answer, so this is perfect :) I'm going to Tweet it.

  3. This is great info. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I just found out about #askagent today. Thanks for giving a great summary!

  5. Great summary!

    It seems there's not much excuse these days for querying agencies who don't rep what you write, or not knowing anything. I've learned everything about publishing from reading blogs and following agents on twitter. It's so helpful!