Q. Many agents make certain stipulations that, rightly or wrongly, one assumes to be common to them all, creating a great deal of confusion for the newcomer.
These stipulations include: 1) A query must be addressed to an agent by name; they do not like the impersonal dear agent approach. 2) Do not query more than one agent in any one agency at any one time. 3) Finally, many agencies state, and in discursive articles/interviews others indicate that they do not appreciate (some will flatly refuse) simultaneous disclosure to other agents.
Hence my question is - should one take it that a query can be addressed to any named agent of a multiple-agent agency, and a rejection from that agent should be taken as a rejection from the entire firm? Or, upon rejection from that agent, should one then set about querying the next named agent in the same agency, and so forth?
A. Complicated question, John. Most agencies will pass material around to fellow agents. If you query an agent about a horror book and she passes, she is definitely likely to consider whether Agent So-and-So in the agency, who also reps horror, would enjoy the project. That stuff happens all the time. Some agency web sites will flat out tell you: "A rejection from one of us is a rejection from all of us." Many others are not so straightforward. When in doubt, I would assume that a rejection from one is a rejection from all. I tell you this because I believe that if an agent thought it had merit but had to pass on it anyway, they will usually go to a colleague and pass on the work.
That said, if you want to send the query to a second agent after getting a rejection from the first, in theory, you're only wasting postage or a little time to e-mail, but your chances are slim.