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A single line can change your career...

A few weeks ago, during an #askagent session on twitter, I mentioned something about how I HIGHLY Reccomend that writers add a small line, toward the end of the query, about other projects.

This seemed to catch people off guard, and I got a flurry of responses saying, "What?! I thought we had to focus on one project only!" "But everyone else says "ONE AT A TIME!"

But you know what? I've ended up signing a client becuase of that line. And another agent chimed in and said the exact same thing.

I'm not saying to fully pitch another project. What I'm saying is a single line, at the end.


"I am seeking an agent for this, and another completed YA project." or "I am hard at work at my next YA, a darker, more mature book about X" or "I am currently writing another paranormal, this one featuring Minotaurs."

Short. Simple. Sweet.

If I, as an agent, really like your query-- if I'm this close to requesting it, but something makes me pause, I know I need to reject it. But if it was that close? I might say, "Sorry, not for me-- but please do pitch your other project!" or "Unfortunately, I have to pass-- but keep me in mind when you're done with the minotaur book! I love minotaurs!"

You've opened a door that would have stayed shut if you hadn't mentioned the other projects.

One of my very first clients pitched me a paranormal YA that I liked, and I knew it was good, but I didn't feel that gravitational pull. But since her voice/writing was so great-- and she added that pivotal, important line that said she had other proejcts-- I replied and send, "What else ya got?"

She sent 3 pitches over. And I went ga ga for one. Fell in love. Signed her.

Had she left that line out, she would have received the standard form rejection.

A second example: In the last week, I received a query for a light, frothy romance. At the end of the query, she mentioned receiving a SCBWI Work-In-Progress grant for her "other" novel, a darker, edgier YA. I requested the romance and then said, PS: Have you queried me on the other project? If not, send the full pitch over."

She did. I loved it. I read both of her full manuscripts. Her range impressed me. But more importantly? It was the "OTHER" novel I fell for.

Just don't make it sound like you have a gargantuous stack of unpublished works, and there's really no downside, in my opinion.

There is a hundred ways this can play out in your favor, so why miss the opportunity? Add the line.

You never know what good could come of it. :-) 




( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 2nd, 2010 05:10 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Mandy. I'm querying soon, so I'll go make that adjustment to my query.
Jul. 2nd, 2010 05:12 pm (UTC)
Definitely have to keep this in mind! Thanks for the awesome post! :)
Jul. 2nd, 2010 05:23 pm (UTC)
This is great advice! Thanks.
Jul. 2nd, 2010 05:51 pm (UTC)
Bless you, Mandy! I did this recently, because hey, I really like the agent (REALLY LIKE) I was querying. Kept it brief, but it was a partial request, and if she was on the fence, hey, I wanted to pull her my way!

But I hadn't been doing this as a rule. Thx for the go-ahead!
Jul. 2nd, 2010 07:45 pm (UTC)
Great post. Just another reminder that agents are PEOPLE with their own tastes and prefernces. The key is to research and personalize. How I wish you were more of a fantasy girl. *smile*
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 2nd, 2010 10:22 pm (UTC)
Oh, definitely. :-) This post wasn't in discussing agenting styles or saying "all agents love this line! If an agent doesn't want to see "other" as they reject your query, that is fine. I am looking at it from a writer perspective-- agent who doesn't want that line isn't going to pass just because the line is there (if they love your project) but there is an opportunity there to consider.

When it comes to queries, there's nothing we universally agree on. :-)
Jul. 3rd, 2010 12:16 am (UTC)
Great post! I'll definitely have to think about adding that. One question though, if you query an agent with Project A with a line about Project B, is it still okay to query the agent later with B if they've rejected A without asking to see the "other" project?
Jul. 3rd, 2010 05:14 pm (UTC)
Great question, rkhorserider. And how specific should the line be. Is it okay to just point out that you are working on another YA thriller (or whatever you're writing), or would you want it to be more specific than that (but still in a single sentence)?

Also, since you're talking about queries, Mandy. What's the general view on querying in August? Is that okay or something we should avoid?
Jul. 3rd, 2010 08:37 pm (UTC)
This is great, I had never considered adding that one sentence! Thanks, Mandy!

And I was wondering, is it good to let agents know the link to your blog? Is it professional or not? Recommended?
Jul. 3rd, 2010 09:15 pm (UTC)
Thanks for sharing this! I've wondered about it quite a bit... If a writer has two projects that are very different, I can see how it would be beneficial to mention the other when querying one.

I saw your exchange on twitter about this, and I just have to say: I really appreciate your honesty and advice, and even more, your approach to being an agent. You consistently sound optimistic and helpful and all of the great qualities I'd love my (future) agent to have.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
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