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Ask Daphne! Making An Exception

aquaI’m moments away from calling it a weekend, but wanted to share these drool-worthy shoes and a question from Ryan, who asks:

I currently have a few publishers who requested material reviewing my book. If one is interested, and I decide I need an agent, is it okay to re-query an agent at this point if they rejected a query before (no writing sample attached) and it lies in their interest range? Or, to query somebody in an agency that says to query only one person within it, if you’ve already queried one? I would never break those rules normally, but if you have something up for sale, is it okay to?

We’re getting a little cart before the horse, here, but to save you some time down the road, let me be blunt: No.

There’s no little asterisk next to the rules on those agents’ submission guidelines saying, “Unless you have a really good reason for disregarding.” Rules are rules are rules. That’s why researching the right agents the first time you send something out, and making sure that your query and sample pages are perfect, is SO IMPORTANT. You don’t get a second chance.

If you do get a publisher interested before you have an agent, here’s my advice:

  1. First check your records — do you currently have any material out with agents? If so (and there should be no reason why you wouldn’t), it’s appropriate to send them an email letting them know that you have an offer from a publisher on the table, and you hope you could hear from them soon, as you’d like to have an agent help walk you through the deal. An important note about this step: Please make sure you actually have AN OFFER. An expression of interest is nice, but can easily go away. If you’re asking agents to hurry up and get to your stuff right away, you better have money on the table.
  2. If no agent is currently reviewing your material, email queries to the next few agents on your well-researched list of future submissions. Pitch your story as usual, but do let them know in your query that you have an offer (see above), and that you’re hoping to get back to your future editor within a certain timeframe. Follow all of the agent’s usual guidelines. Don’t send the full with the query to save yourself a step — if they’re interested, they’ll decide how much they need to see before making a decision. And oh yeah, just because you have an offer, don’t expect that every agent is going to fall over themselves to work with you. One offer does not a long-term relationship make. You need to be compatible partners for the long haul.
  3. Ask your editor! Every editor has agents they enjoy working with, and chances are, they’d be happy to suggest a few for you to query. In which case, follow the rules as usual, but be sure to include in your query something like “Editor X, who made an offer for my manuscript, suggested I contact you.”

One other thing — make sure that the agent who wants to work with you because you have an offer isn’t an agent who only wants to work with you because you have an offer. Yes, there is a ton of work for an agent to do post-offer, which is why a long-term relationship is so important. It’s not just about negotiating the contract — it’s about guiding your career. Make sure you don’t just sign with someone who sees a fast buck, but instead, look for someone who is in it for the long haul.

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