By now you should know how I like to confuse things a little by stating how I like things done v. how you should be doing things—guidelines that often conflict with one another.
Kim and I both receive a lot of queries and have specific interests. We also have a number of interests that cross over, and while I do not like when authors query us both at the same time (since there’s nothing worse than sitting in a meeting when two agents bring up the exact same project), I do think it’s in your best interest to query one if the other passes and you feel both agents might be right for your work. And yes, I’m wincing a little as I type this. And yes, I’m sure there are many agents cursing my name as they read this.
Here’s the deal: There are definitely times when I’ll pass on a query, but forward it to Kim anyway. If it’s something I think she might like I’ll pass so she doesn’t have to answer if she doesn’t want to (and since I was the one queried), but if she is interested she can request more. That being said, I can’t always say that I understand the kind of books Kim might like.
One of the reasons agents specialize is that we, like readers, get certain books and don’t get others. In other words, I don’t get what makes a children’s book work. How does one ABC picture book really differ from another? I also don’t necessarily get certain voices, so I might read something that would be better for Kim, but I don’t think to pass it on to her because I didn’t connect to the voice. She might.
Recently an author queried me after getting an offer of representation. She had recently received a rejection from Kim, but thought to query me as well, just to see. I LOVED the book. Thought it was simply great. Kim apologized profusely, feeling like she should have passed it on to me, but admitted that the book was not her style so she couldn’t even tell if it was really great enough to pass along or not. She was right, and certainly I’ve been in the same situation. Sometimes we just can’t tell because it’s not our style.
There are a ton of agents out there, there are three times as many authors. If you feel there are two or more agents within the same agency who are right for your work, query them all, just not at the same time.