If you’re like most writers, you’re probably not writing just one book. You’ve written multiple books, possibly in different genres. You may have a whole 3 or 6 or 9-book series planned. So the question naturally arises: Should I pitch my whole series to an agent? Should I tell them about my entire body of work? After all, I want an agent to represent all my work, not just one book.
Along similar lines, reader Jan wrote on Facebook: Whenever I check an agency’s guidelines, they always talk about pitching a particular book. I already have a book published, and I’m looking for an agent to help me build my career. How do I query/pitch in that situation?
The answer is simple and clear:
When querying or pitching an agent, always start with just one book.
1. While most agents are looking for authors with long-term potential and therefore want to know about your other books, it always has to start with one salable book. “Building a career” starts with selling a book to a publisher.
2. It’s highly unlikely an agent would take you on if you just have a smorgasbord of ideas and a vague idea of a plan. You’ve got to have a book ready to go. A book that’s so great, the agent can envision the rest of the career you’re trying to build. If you don’t have a single salable book, then talking about a whole career is pointless.
3. Similarly— if you’re writing a series, you’ve got to get them interested in the first book. Nobody is interested in sequels if they’re not already in love with book #1. So start there. Sell them on book #1.
4. Agents only get paid when they sell a book to a publisher, not by engaging in endless conversations about hypothetical “career building.” We start with a book to sell, then build a career from there. This is true even if you’re already published.
5. At some point in your conversation with an agent, you’ll know when it’s the right time to talk about all your other books and your vision for your career. Often the agent will ask. If you’re writing a query, you can briefly mention toward the end of your letter that you’ve planned a series based on the book you’re pitching, or that you also have other manuscripts in the works if the agent should be interested.
6. It’s not that you shouldn’t let an agent know of your series or your career plans. The point is not to forget your most important priority:
Do you have a series or multiple manuscripts in the works? Does it makes sense that you’d need to sell them on a single one to start with?
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