Ask Winston

Winston the Wonder Dog

A writer with a few magazine credits but no book (yet) sent this query:

Dear Winston: I listened carefully to the agents and editors who presented at the recent Western Washington-SCBWI conference, taking notes on which ones seemed a good match for me and my work. My middle grade novel is ready to mail. May I do a blanket mailing, or is it best to send to one agent and/or editor at a time?

Dear Writer: Wonder Dogs don’t have to worry about submitting manuscripts, but I hear it’s a big concern for you two-legged critters. I asked Jill Grinberg, of Jill Grinberg Literary Management and Andrea Cascardi, of Transatlantic Literary Agency, to run with this one.

Andrea Cascardi has more than twenty years’ experience in book publishing. Beginning as an editorial assistant at Houghton Mifflin, she moved up the ranks at several major New York publishing houses to become Assistant Publishing Director for Knopf and Crown Books for Young Readers before joining TLA. Andrea represents fiction and nonfiction for all ages, from babies through teens, and some adult work as well, including adult mysteries.

Andrea Cascardi: The industry has changed substantially from the time when exclusive submissions were the norm. I now generally assume that a query is a multiple submission unless someone states otherwise. However, to be courteous and professional, it’s still best to let an agent know that you are submitting to other agents. To submit multiply doesn’t mean mass emailing every agent in the book. It’s still important to research the agents you are submitting to, what they’ve sold, what their interests are, and what their submission policies are. It’s great if you have a particular reason for sending them your work, and can let them know why. I definitely look favorably on queries that show the writer has done this kind of work before submitting to me.

Jill Grinberg is the Founder and President of Jill Grinberg Literary Management, a boutique agency that represents a diverse list of adult, YA/teen, and children’s book authors including numerous prize-winning and bestselling writers.

Jill Grinberg: My feeling is multiple submissions are okay so long as you make it clear to the agents you are sending to that it is a multiple submission. But I think any agent, including myself, appreciates it when an author writes to say I really like your list, I know you represent so-and-so writers, and I think my book could fit well on your list for these reasons, and thus I am submitting to you exclusively to start in the hopes that you will want to represent me. If you go the latter direction it pays to do research and develop a real sense of the agent and the agent’s list so it feels an appropriately targeted submission. Perhaps a compromise is to do a select submission to a very select group of agents making it clear to them you’re submitting multiply – but to a small, targeted group of agents – so the submission feels a bit more personalized.

Good luck!

Howling good answers, Andrea and Jill! Thanks. And I’d bet my favorite squeaky toy that your tips about researching an agent to whom to submit work no doubt applies to editors as well.

(note from Winston’s assistant: Have a question you’d like answered? Post it in the comments section below, and check back next Tuesday! And just to let everyone know, Winston has healed up fit as a fiddle. Stitches come out Thursday.)

No Responses to “Ask Winston”

  1. SWK

    Okay, Kirby, I’m not gonna say Winston is cuter than my insightful writer-dog, Benny, but boy is he adorable! Enjoying your blog!

  2. Grier Jewell

    I have a question, but first: Is Winston getting paid for this gig? The use of his photo? True, you seem to have his interests in mind, Kirby, but it doesn’t hurt to have outside representation in these situations. I have experience, I’m available, and I think I can make this a profitable venture. Have his people contact me if he’s interested.

    Now for my other question: I’ve been warned not to say anything negative about works represented by a certain agent who (the rumor goes) will not represent any writer who’s said something negative about a book she’s sold. Since I wasn’t told this directly by the agent, I don’t know how true it is, but it makes me wonder if this is something that most agents and editors feel. I’m not talking about bashing a book for the sake of it, or smearing a writer–that’s poor form–but what about a critical review?