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Ask Daphne! Who Should Contact You?

wedding-manager-shoesShoes befitting any woman in power, for Kathy, who writes:

I’m a screenwriter, and I have a manager for that (also an agent). My manager feels that SHE should query you (the agent), while I think I should, because the agent/client relationship is different in publishing (in film, you barely deal with your agent — the manager does that), and I therefore feel like the first contact should come directly from me.

Kathy, I strive to answer all questions, no matter how specialized! As a literary agent, I would definitely prefer to receive a query directly from you, rather than through your manager. That may be how it works in Hollywood, but it’s a very different beast in publishing.

Besides being about your manuscript, an agent who likes what you write wants to get a sense of what you would be like as a client. If she’s not dealing with you — if she’s dealing with a manager — than she’s not getting the best picture of what your possible working relationship would be like. One of my “Don’t”s about the query process is “don’t use a spokesperson.” Though I more commonly get queries from a writer’s wife/husband/parent/sibling/pet owner, than from their professional manager, the sentiment is the same. I don’t want to represent any writer who isn’t actively involved in their own submission process.

But what about query services, you may ask? Aren’t they just like using a professional shopper, so you can spend your time on the important business of writing your book, instead of taking time away from that to query?

You know, I love the idea of a professional shopper. But I also love finding a great bargain on a fantastic pair of shoes, trying them on in the middle of a busy store and deciding right then and there that I must have them. A query service may have a stable of fine agents they like to send queries to, like a favorite department store, but you won’t get a sense of actually shopping there unless you’re there. You know, shopping. A query service may have the most up-to-date information about the agents they target for your work, or they may be going off an old listing in Writers Digest, with outdated material. Sure, they’d have done their homework, but it’s only the bare minimum necessary to get the job done.

And the job — finding an agent that’s going to love your manuscript and shepherd you through the publication process — is too important to outsource.

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