Querying Multiple Projects: Should You Send a Slew?

Here’s a question about querying multiple projects from reader Siski:

Is it worth providing an agent with a synopsis of several manuscripts so they can assess you as an author, rather than assess you in terms of one manuscript? Would that make rejection less likely? Or will an agent be able to see what you’re capable of from just one MS and therefore wouldn’t want to know of others?

querying multiple projects, multiple submissions
Do you have a backlog of writing and are wondering if you should send multiple submissions when you’re querying?

Multiple Submissions: Yes or No?

I get this question a lot at conferences and through the blog. Should you consider querying multiple projects or charge into the great query yonder with just one project at a time?

I’m very adamant about my answer: send only your absolute strongest project out. No ifs ands or buts. I don’t care if it’s a ten word picture book. If it’s your strongest work, that’s what you should show the world. In most cases — especially with picture book manuscripts, but this could apply to novels, too — having a really great, strong submission will either get you an offer or at least get your foot in the door.

After the communication lines between you and the editor/agent are open, you can broach other projects. Or the agent/editor may ask to see what else you have. But the time for that is AFTER they show interest in your initial blow-the-door-off-its-hinges submission.

The Drawbacks to Querying Multiple Projects

When we get multiple submissions from a writer, either in one email or in twenty, we’re overwhelmed. We’re annoyed. We wonder why you have those twenty manuscripts sitting around on your hard drive and, yes, why you’re querying multiple projects in one big deluge. It also makes us panicky. Do you want us to sell all twenty of those for you right off the bat? Are your expectations completely unrealistic?

So be patient. Really take a long, hard look at all the projects you have to potentially offer an agent/editor. Choose your favorite, the one you feel is most marketable or the one you’re most passionate about (ideally, it will have both of those qualities!). And send that one as a way to engage the editor/agent into asking for more. That’s the right way to do it. Sending your entire slew will have the opposite effect — you’ll get that agent/editor shutting the door of opportunity in your face instead of opening it wider. And if you’re one of those lucky writers who has oodles of completed manuscripts lying around, check out my post on multiple queries to multiple agents for additional advice on submitting your work.

Not only am I a book editor, I also work with writers as a writing career and publishing strategy consultant. If you want some in-depth questions answered, one-on-one, let’s connect.

18 Replies to “Querying Multiple Projects: Should You Send a Slew?”

  1. Spot on!

    I often wondered that before I got my agent.

    She’d liked the submission I’d sent her, signed me on that, but then was pleasantly surprised when I had several more manuscripts completed and ready for her to look at as well.

    Sure, not all were her favorite, but she liked a few of them.

    Great post. Thanks for this!

  2. I had site issues up until around 8:00pm last night. I could acces some of the subforums and that was it. (Even then, me and several other people lost a lot of the crit posts we made in those forums, augh.) BUT, now that I have access to it all again, I’m having a ball reading through everything.

    Looking forward to your panel!

    As for this blog entry, I’ve never wondered this for myself, but I’ve wondered it for others. Especially those with shorter books like PBs and such. Informative, thanks!

  3. This is a great question, and a great answer.

    As a picture book writer myself, I struggled with this when I decided to try to get an agent. The fact was, I thought I had several “strong” books, and I think the picture book market is one of the most subjective in terms of finding representation/publication. What to send?

    Since I couldn’t decide, I was tempted to send descriptions of all, (the dreaded slew).

    But in the end, I didn’t. That is mostly because it is HARD finding an agent who even reps picture books anymore! Not impossible, just hard.

    So instead I queried my middle grade novel.

    I ended up

  4. A somewhat-unrelated-but-kinda-related question:

    I have a list of books that are similar to mine in voice, tone, etc. How do I find out who these writers’ agents are? Am I missing something obvious?

  5. Outstanding chat over at writeoncon, Mary. You’ve got some fast fingers and some great insight. Thanks for all your efforts.

  6. This was a SUPER helpful post, Mary. I’m always pondering how to approach this, as I’m looking for an agent who’s interested in my CAREER, not just my one book. Another agent addressed this on a different post over at Literary Rambles–she recommended that IF you can get the ideas for the other manuscripts across without overwhelming the query, then do so. Thanks for the post.

  7. This was a SUPER helpful post, Mary. I’m always pondering how to approach this, as I’m looking for an agent who’s interested in my CAREER, not just my one book. Another agent addressed this on a different post over at Literary Rambles–she recommended that IF you can get the ideas for the other manuscripts across without overwhelming the query, then do so. Thanks for the post.

  8. Great post!

    So, related to this, if you pass on a project, how long should an author wait before requerying you with a different project?

    And on the subject of WriteOnCon – your vlog was absolutely the best part of the whole conference. The. BEST. SO helpful! I had to keep pausing it so I could write everything down! Thank you!

  9. Thanks for a great post, I am one of those with loads ready at the same time so I have that problem. At writeoncon they suggested one main one and a brief mention at the bottom of the page about a couple of others. So not far off your opinion. Very grateful to have this cleared up. Now to choose!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *