There are lots of agencies with the rule that you can only query one agent within the agency for each project. Meaning, if the agent you query passes, you can't send it on to another agent at the same agency. Corvisiero Agency follows this guideline and I get asked sometimes why we have it. Today, I'll tell you why.
I understand the nature of the question. After all, queries are highly subjective. What doesn't strike my fancy could be right up the alley of another agent I work with and vice versa. So why then are we against re-querying? Several reasons actually, but here are the big ones for me.
This may seem cruel to the querying author just trying to catch a break, but time does play a factor. At Corvisiero, we respond to each and every query. All of them. Additionally, we often provide feedback when sending a rejection to give the author an idea of why we are passing. All of that takes time. Now imagine if each of us had to read the same query from the same author. Not only would our number of incoming queries increase, we would probably waste a lot of time telling authors the same thing over and over again. This leads into my next point.
I trust my fellow agents as professionals. While we each might look for something slightly different in a story, we know what good writing looks like regardless of genre. Does an author really need three of us to tell him he overuses metaphors and the dialogue needs work? Nope. And I know that's the sort of thing I can count on my co-agents to sort out. I trust them to know if a piece has potential or not. We may have completely different wish lists, but we're all looking for great stories.
Even when something isn't my particular mug of joe (I don't really like cups of tea), I know when a writer has talent. I also know the kind of stories my co-workers are looking for. So when I see talent in their favorite genre, I pass the query along. And they do the same. It doesn't happen super often, but it does happen. I'm not going to let a seriously talented writer slip through just because they write in a genre or style that isn't my preference. If there's another agent in the office who would be a good fit, I'm going to let them know.
I'm not looking for clients who want just any agent. While writers should query widely, you should also be judicious in your selections. Remember that you're not just looking for a vendor who can sell your book to the highest bidder in some nameless, robotic transaction. You're looking for a business partner. I want clients who think I would be a good match for them, and not just because I have the title of agent. A writer who tries to rapid fire their query at every agent they've heard of isn't thinking about partnerships.
I get that querying is hard, and sometimes the rules and guidelines for each agency can seem like flaming hoops you have to jump through. Believe me, I've jumped through many a flaming hoop myself and have the singe marks to prove it. But here's the thing. We don't sit around a table inventing rules and guidelines in a sadistic game of "Let's Drive Writers Crazy". The rules are there to help everyone, agent and writer alike.
Next time you think about breaking the rules keep two things in mind. The rules are there to help you, not hurt you and we know when you're breaking the rules, which is definitely not going to help you. So chin up and carry on. I can't promise that your day will come, but playing by the rules can only help it get there.
I hope that helps shed some light on what can be a confusing part of querying. Do you have any other querying questions you'd like to ask? Some submission standard have you stumped? Let me know in the comments and I'll try to answer them in the next Agency Lessons post.