Wanted to share my experience with Peter Steinberg of The Steinberg Agency. A client of Peter's recommended a novel of mine to him. I got in touch with Peter and he asked me to send the manuscript to him through the mail.
On May 12 Peter emailed me to confirm he'd received the manuscript and had read some of it but not enough to reach a decision. He wrote that he'd get back in touch with me "in two weeks or so."
I heard nothing from him and so on June 20 I emailed him just to check in, letting him know I'd just been to a reading by one of his clients and hoping that he'd have the chance to read more of my ms sometime in the not-too-distant future.
I received no reply to this.
On July 1, I emailed another brief message about having dinner with one of his clients, the one who'd recommended my work, and again expressing the hope he'd have a chance to look at my ms.
On July 16, I emailed him once more, another brief polite query reminding him of his email from May 12 and hoping that I'd hear something from him--at least to know if the ms was still "in play."
Again, no reply.
Since then, I've called his office twice, telling the receptionist the situation and that I simply wanted to know if the ms was still under consideration or if I could have it returned to me (it is 500 pp and not inexpensive to print out or mail). She said he'd call me back. He has not.
I just called again, asking to have my manuscript returned as, after Peter's initial pleasant email exchanges with me, he has not acted in a way that inspires any professional confidence. I've heard of--and in one case experienced--enough flakey agents who can not even reply with a few words to their clients' emails.
Once again, the receptionist said he'd call me!
I just want my ms back at this point!
So this has been my experience with Peter Steinberg and his eponymous agency. I hope others have had better experiences, but based on mine I send this out as a warning to others.
Sometimes I wonder if it is too much to expect agents to be capable of basic standards of professionalism common to most other businesses in which I've had experience.
I have no desire to be a "diva" writer, no desire to be coddled or flattered, no desire to get into the sick master/servant or top/bottom dynamic that often seems typical of writer/agent pairings. (I've seen successful authors turn their agents into boot lickers, just as agents can push less-successful writers into that position. Or do we writers choose to assume that flunky position all-too-willingly?) But is it too much to hope for a relationship with an agent that is just basically decent? One of mutual respect? I wasn't looking for a pat on the head from Peter Steinberg, I'd just like to know if the ms was still being considered or if I could have it back. A five word reply would have sufficed for either. That doesn't seem like much to ask.