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Handling Submissions with a Full Client List

I’ve always been very open about the size of my client list. Like any agent who has been in the business for 20+ years, I have a wonderfully solid stable of clients. It’s what every agent aspires to so there’s no way you’ll ever see me complain about that.

One reader asked this:

Curious… I’m assuming that while you are open to submissions you can’t take on as many (to manage your client load) so would you a) reject something that perhaps in the past you might have gone further with (because you can afford to be picky) or b) pass to another of your team?

I definitely reject books that 15 years ago I might have offered representation to or at least continued reading to the end, but whether or not I pass it on to someone else depends. Fifteen years ago the quality of my submissions was very different. Don’t get me wrong, I got some definite winners, authors who are still with me today, but I was also the last round for many authors. So what was great for my pile, wasn’t necessarily great for today’s submission pile. If it softens the blow, I will tell you that I didn’t sell any of those books or authors. I sold only the ones that today I would still take on.

At BookEnds we very openly pass along submissions all the time. Sometimes it’s because I’m overwhelmed and a book comes in with an offer. It’s something that sounds really promising, but I don’t have the time to give it the attention in deserves, at least in that moment, so pass it on to another agent I think will do a better job. Sometimes I request something that sounds intriguing, but in the end it was more of a pleasure read, not the kind of book I usually represent. I’ll definitely pass that on. I also think that many of you can attest to the fact that we frequently reject books or queries and recommend you query another BookEnds agent.

So we will pass things on, but if by chance we don’t it doesn’t mean you can’t go to another BookEnds agent on your own.

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10 comments

  1. Jessica, wondering, how does a submitting author know that you’ve passed the query along to someone else? Does a rejection come from you with a note saying you’ve passed but Cracking Colleague now has it… and then down the track you hear from Cracking Colleague?

      1. So if you were to then resubmit to an agent who has already seen it (but you don’t know they’ve seen it) is that considered bad form?

        1. I’m not sure what you’re asking. I would only resubmit to the same agent if extensive revisions were done or it’s a new work.

          1. Sorry, Jessica, poor word choice.

            What I meant was: You’ve said in the past it is okay to query a different agent at your agency if the first rejects you. Is it a problem if you were to resubmit your query to BookEnds but to a different agent than the original query, not realising that agent had already seen it (as your query has been passed around by the first agent)?

  2. This is how I ended up signing with Jessica Alvarez. I submitted to Jessica F but she was full so she passed my submission on to Jessica A. Jessica A made an offer of representation. That was, gosh, 5 years ago? and I’ve never regretted it. So thank you, Jessica F!!!

  3. Hi Jessica:

    I have been trying for months to contact you about my work. I have not been able to get my work to you. My computer doesn’t allow me to cut and paste my work to a form like this. Do you allow snail mail? How can I contact you?

    I have a story about a mass murderer I bet you would like to read. Could you get back to me? Thanks.

    Bill

    1. I’m unsure of your question. We don’t ask that you cut and paste any work. We ask that you send a query letter only. If we request material we will request that you send it as an attachment.

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