Query Resubmissions

After submitting your query and getting a few rounds of rejections, you may revise your work. It’s probably tempting to resubmit that query to agents who saw it and passed on it.

My immediate recommendation: don’t.

Some agents are fine with resubmissions. I’ll take a second look at a query and sample I have already passed on. A few times, I have read full manuscripts after I have rejected a query/manuscript in the past. I have never signed a resubmission. 

The thing is, if I pass, it’s because I don’t think it’s something I can work with. I often pass because I’m not interested in the subject or because the voice isn’t working for me. The first issue is impossible to fix – if I’m not interested in the plot/subject/etc., a revision isn’t going to change that. The second isn’t impossible, but it’s difficult. An author’s voice is their voice, and sometimes I just don’t connect with it. That doesn’t mean there’s anything inherently wrong with the writing. The project just isn’t right for me.

There are many instances where I think a project is interesting and I like the voice, but there are fixable issues that mean I’m not ready to sign but am willing to see the project again. In these cases, I specify in my rejection that I’m happy to take another look upon extensive revisions.

My reason for saying not to resubmit (unless an agent asked to see it again!) is because there are tons more agents you can query who haven’t already passed. These agents don’t have the initial wariness while reading, because they’ve never seen the project before.

If you do resubmit, you have to tell an agent that it’s a resubmission. This is going to make me immediately hesitant, because I know I’ve already passed on the project. Again, you don’t get this hesitation with agents who have never rejected the project.

Also keep in mind that, if you are resubmitting, the revisions have to be beyond extensive. The project has to be vastly improved. I recommend taking at least a full year before you consider resubmitting. You should set the manuscript aside for a few months and then look at it with fresh eyes. I also recommend writing groups and critique partners to help with revisions. 

You should definitely check and see if an agent even accepts resubmissions. Many do not. I do, and I always consider the projects that are resent, but I go into them thinking that there was a reason I passed in the first place, and it is unlikely that reason has changed. 

I’m not saying you absolutely can’t resubmit. Err on the side of caution. Keep in mind you might be starting from a hard place because the agent has already passed before, and you might have a better chance with an agent who has never seen the project before. 

I realize this sounds very negative, but I promise I’m not meaning it to be! For every agent who passed, there are plenty more who haven’t. Your post-revision list should include these agents. It may make a huge difference!

Xoxo Tia

This blog post was requested by @SincerelySincl1! Thanks for the recommendation. Feel free to hit me up on Twitter with blog recommendations!

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The Importance of Friends

Something I love to talk about is how important it is to surround yourself with a community of people when you’re a writer.

Writing is a solitary business. It’s something you mostly do on your own. You sit down and you write your book (or article or poem, etc) and it’s just you. 

Just because writing is solitary doesn’t mean it has to be lonely.

It is so important to surround yourself with other writers. Twitter is a beast, but it’s a great place to meet fellow writers in the same place in their career as you. You can also find local writing groups (and online writing groups!) in order to find a sense of community. 

However, you don’t want your only friends to be writers. This can be difficult. Make sure to keep friends outside of the industry as well. You want people you can complain to when a scene isn’t coming together, or to cry to when you get a rejection, or to celebrate with when you get an offer of representation or a publishing deal. However, you also want people to be with when the last thing you want to talk about is your WIP. Having groups within and outside of the writing community is really important.

If writing groups and Twitter aren’t your thing, you can also use websites like Query Tracker and other querying sites or blogs and message boards to connect with people who are in the same boat as you. Once you have found your community, hold tight. You may be writing alone, but you’re all in this together.

xoxo Tia

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Give Yourself a Break

When 90% of your work can be done remotely, it’s really hard to remember that it’s okay to give yourself a day off. This is always true, but is especially relevant when we don’t have our usual distractions. I used to spend weekends with friends and go to baseball games on weeknights, which helped me not think about work all the time. I’ve been hiking a lot lately, which helps, but it’s not as helpful as my old habits. I’ve had to figure out other ways to force myself away from my inbox.

I find myself feeling guilty whenever I do something other than work. I have always felt like this, even when there wasn’t a stay at home order. When I catch up on my favorite TV shows, I could be reading queries. When I bake cupcakes, I could be reading manuscripts. When I go hiking with my brothers, I could be researching editors or comp titles. 

Except, I’m usually doing these things after work hours and on weekends. So I shouldn’t feel guilty for enjoying my free time. Yet, I do.

The thing is, I don’t mind working outside normal office hours. It comes with the gig, and I’ve found all of my clients by reading their projects on evenings and weekends. What I need to remind myself, though, is that it’s okay to spend a day not working.

So, I force myself to take a break. I chose Sunday as my Day Off mostly because I was reading queries one Sunday morning and realized I didn’t have to. So I finished the one I was working on, downloaded a mindless game on my phone, and spent the rest of the day Not Working. (Okay, so maybe I continued to check my email and ended up reading a few more queries, but it was A Start.)

I’ll never distance myself from my email completely. I’ve gotten a lot better about it, though. I’ve been avoiding my email on weekends. I only check it a couple times on Saturday, if at all, and I go all of Sunday without opening the app or checking on my laptop. I try out new cupcakes recipes and cook dinner for the family. I watch movies with my dad and cuddle with my dogs. I challenge myself with harder and harder hikes, including Bear Mountain, which is the highest peak in CT.

I video chat with friends, or send memes to my various group chats. After quarantine is over and it’s safe to do so, I’ll start spending my weekends with friends again. It’s a lot easier to not check your email when there are people holding you accountable.

The point is, you don’t have to work 24/7, even if you can do a lot of your work at home. Let yourself do other things from the safety of your home, or go out for a walk if you’re able. Just remember, give yourself a break!

xoxo Tia

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What Are Sub Rights?

It’s official! I’m the audio rights director for Talcott Notch.

This means I handle the audio rights, which are part of sub rights, for our books, both frontlist and backlist. My new role brings up the question: what are sub rights?

Sub rights, or subsidiary rights, are all the other formats in which a book can be published/produced. These include foreign, serial, merchandising, film, and audio, as well as many others. When a book is acquired by an editor, a lot of the sub rights are included in the contract as well as the breakdown of royalties an author will earn when the publisher sells those rights.

As an agent, it’s my job to try and keep as many of those sub rights as I can because if we sell the rights in-house, the royalty cut is bigger than if the publisher sells those rights. We don’t have to give the publisher a part of the advance/royalties, which means a better payout for the author and agent. 

Most agencies have agents or sub-agents who handle the film, foreign, and audio rights that they retain. In our case, I handle the audio rights for Talcott Notch. This means I reach out to audio producers with our rights catalog and try to sell the audio rights for our published projects as well as our future projects. 

The process is a lot like the submission process I wrote about here. I look for audio producers working with the genres I have available, and send our rights catalog. If they’re interested in any of our titles, they’ll ask for a copy of the book. Once they have considered it, if they want to purchase the audio, we’ll negotiate a contract. If the book is backlist (meaning it has already been published), then the producers want to see sales numbers before deciding to consider the project. 

Other rights are handled in a similar fashion. The agent handling the rights (or the publisher, if they retained the rights) gets in touch with publishers, film producers, etc. in order to sell those rights. 

Sub rights are another part of agenting, and it’s great to be a part of the in-house team handling our audio rights!

xoxo Tia

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My Submission Process

So, you’re looking for an agent. You know that an agent helps you to get your book in the hands of editors, but what does that process look like?

Different agents handle submissions differently, but this is my process.

After I sign a client, we usually do at least one round of revisions on the book. While my author is revising, I’m looking through my list of editorial contacts and creating a sub list. I’ll also be looking at Publisher’s Marketplace to see if any new deals have similar themes to my client’s book. If I’m not already in touch with those editors, I’ll make the connection so that I can sub to them in the future.

I try to add about thirty editors to a sub list before we go out on submission with a project. I’m not sending the book to every single one of these editors in the first round! I usually break them up into tiers of ten editors. Some agents send to fewer editors, some send to more. For me, ten is a good, even number that makes me happy. I also think ten is a strong number for feedback, which I talk about later.

Once revisions are done and we’re both satisfied with the book, I’ll write a pitch letter. I usually share the pitch with my client as well as another agent at my agency to get feedback before I start sending it to editors. I want to make sure it’s strong, and that I’m representing the author and their book well!

The pitch letter then goes out to the first tier editors. Sometimes, I’ll get a response almost immediately from an editor either passing or requesting to see the manuscript. To the passes, I thank them and usually ask for an updated MSWL if I haven’t spoken with them in a while. To the requests, I send along the manuscript with a quick thank you.

On pitches, I follow up with editors who haven’t responded every two weeks. If the editor requested the manuscript, I’ll follow up every six weeks. 

Now, the hope is always that one of these first ten editors will take the book to acquisitions, get permission to buy the book, and the process of selling the book will begin. That doesn’t always happen. As editors pass, they often give feedback as to why they decided to pass. If the feedback is actionable, I’ll talk with my author about doing another revision. As mentioned, my ten editor tiers are set up in the hopes that if the book doesn’t sell to one of them, we’ll get some actionable feedback before we move on to the next tier. If the passes are all “this just isn’t right for me,” then we’ll keep submitting to editors until we find the perfect home.

What if the book has gone out to a ton of editors and they’re all passes? Well, as soon as we go on sub, I encourage my authors to start working on their next book. If the book I signed them on isn’t selling, we’ll go on sub with another and keep our fingers crossed that it sells. I don’t sign books I don’t believe in, and I of course want to sell the book I signed my authors on, but sometimes it takes time and other books to get there. 

As I said, agents have their own processes. I’m sure I’ll continue to tweak it as I learn and sell my clients’ works, but for now, it’s a process that works best for me!

xoxo Tia

If you like what I talk about on my blog, consider buying me a coffee: https://ko-fi.com/tiarosemele