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cswayden
03-15-2009, 03:31 AM
I'm new and this is my first post so please be kind. I just recently got a reply from an agent requesting the entire manuscript of my book. I sent it off and a day later got a email from a different agent requesting to read some chapters. They were intrigued. My question is do I wait to send my book off to the second agent while waiting for the first to respond or do I go ahead and send what they want with a letter stating that another agent is reading the manuscript. I want to be polite and not burn any bridges. This is a good problem to have but I am unsure as to what to do. Thanks for any help.

Irysangel
03-15-2009, 03:50 AM
Hi cswayden,

As long as you have not provided an exclusive to either agent, you can send it to as many people as you like.

Cyia
03-15-2009, 04:16 AM
Remember that it can take MONTHS to hear back from an agent who has even a partial manuscript. In the interim you want as many eye on your work as you can manage. If they ask for it, send it ASAP (keeping in mind what Irysangel said, the rules change if you grant an "exclusive")

cswayden
03-15-2009, 04:44 AM
Can you tell me what's the scoop about an "exclusive?" Thanks.

cswayden
03-15-2009, 04:45 AM
I just read what I wrote - typed and the answer is obvious, duh. But can I refuse an exclusive?

Cyia
03-15-2009, 04:57 AM
I just read what I wrote - typed and the answer is obvious, duh. But can I refuse an exclusive?

Yes. You can go ahead and send them what they asked for, but you MUST tell them it's not on an exclusive basis. Either tell them that you've already got the MS out with other agents so an exclusive isn't possible, or come up with a professional way to turn down their request.

Above all be polite.

yeswecan
03-15-2009, 10:42 AM
Yes. You can go ahead and send them what they asked for, but you MUST tell them it's not on an exclusive basis. Either tell them that you've already got the MS out with other agents so an exclusive isn't possible, or come up with a professional way to turn down their request.

Above all be polite.


Now I'm confused: I've heard you didn't need to mention that other agents had your ms., esp if they didn't ask for an exclusive. Wouldn't that seem rather pushy to mention it later? I thought you only contacted them IF you had another offer on the table? Any advice? Thanks!

Stacia Kane
03-15-2009, 03:04 PM
Now I'm confused: I've heard you didn't need to mention that other agents had your ms., esp if they didn't ask for an exclusive. Wouldn't that seem rather pushy to mention it later? I thought you only contacted them IF you had another offer on the table? Any advice? Thanks!

:)

Normally, you don't tell them that the ms is out with other agents. I can think offhand of one agent who says in their guidelines that if the ms is out with others they want to be told, but in general they don't ask (this is why it's so important to read all the guidelines!)

IF they ask for an exclusive, though, THEN you must tell them that you cannot grant the exclusive because the ms is already out with other agents.

Send the ms anyway, when you reply to say you can't grant the exclusive but you'd love to work with them and hope they'll still read it. Don't give them a chance to change their minds; if they're interested in it, and it's there, chances are they'll read it anyway. At least in my experience.

justAnotherWriter
03-15-2009, 08:08 PM
Why wouldn't you want to tell them it's out with other agents?

Most agents skim queries...anything that gets their attention is bound to be good, isn't it? If the full is out with other agencies, that means the writing was good enough (in the partials) to get an agent to want to read more. That right there should seperate your query from 99.9% of the others, shouldn't it?

The only bad thing I can think of is that an agent might not want to take the chance of reading only to get it snatched out from under him/her, but is that risk greater than the risk of being skimmed over and ignored because the agent is very busy in the particular moment he or she is reading your query?

yeswecan
03-15-2009, 08:47 PM
Thanks, Mike and DQ! Now you see why I'm confused: I've heard it both ways...In a way, I want to tell them so they'll speed things up (4 mos. is plenty long to wait) but don't want to rush the other agents who've only had the full a short while.
I don't want to feel like I'm cheating on a boyfriend! LOL

Q: At what point do you write off an agent? Do you give them a "deadline?"
e.g. Say something like: "If I don't hear from you within a month, I'll assume you're no longer interested...." Or do you gently nudge them once a month? I know rushing an agent isn't a good idea, but we can't wait around forever! Any thoughts?

Cyia
03-15-2009, 09:05 PM
Unless the agent has a concrete "requery after _______", you have to assume that no answer = not interested.

If an agent has a partial or a full and it's been 3-4 months without word, you can send them a follow-up email. FWIW 4 and even 6 months isn't unheard of while they're considering a manuscript. I've had a full out since November, and I probably won't nudge them for another couple of weeks.

Publishing is a SLOW business most of the time, and that includes securing an agent. They get hundreds - thousands of queries they have to wade through, plus the requested materials they have to read, plus their existing clients. It takes time, and while it's nerve wracking on the writer's end, it's necessary.

NEVER give an agent an ultimatum or a "deadline", it'll get you a "difficult" reputation and an auto-delete. You need to work on their schedule, not try and force them into yours.

And as far as telling an agent that others have your materials... NO! You only bring it up if the agent in question wants an exclusive and you can't give him one since the material is already with others. You're propsing a business transaction, your correspondence needs to look professional.

yeswecan
03-15-2009, 09:29 PM
Thanks, Cyia, great advice! I hear about all these writers getting instant offers after one week, so I assume they're not very interested...sigh...
I didn't plan on giving an "ultimatum" but perhaps it's a way to let the agent off the hook...Guess I'll write it off if five mos. go by--and hope someone else is more interested. Maybe by then the economy will improve?

Time to get busy writing and not worrying so much. Thanks again--good luck to all!

justAnotherWriter
03-15-2009, 09:40 PM
NO! You only bring it up if the agent in question wants an exclusive and you can't give him one since the material is already with others. You're propsing a business transaction, your correspondence needs to look professional.

What is unprofessional about letting an agent know a)you're good enough that other agents are interested in reading your manuscript and b)you're honest and upfront enough to tell them about it?

Please note I'm not trying to force a viewpoint. I'm trying to understand your reasoning. Telling someone "NO" without explaining is helpful to some people, but not to others. It's one thing to blindly follow guidelines and another to understand the business. I am after the latter.

yeswecan
03-15-2009, 11:12 PM
Good point, Mike--I'm wondering the same thing! In a way, it seems like the courteous thing to do, but in a way it seems pushy.

FYI: I posted this question on Nathan's thread so it'd be nice to hear what an actual agent thinks...but like writers, we all have different viewpoints. Any agents out there?

Thanks to all of you, too.

Cyia
03-16-2009, 12:03 AM
What is unprofessional about letting an agent know a)you're good enough that other agents are interested in reading your manuscript and b)you're honest and upfront enough to tell them about it?

Please note I'm not trying to force a viewpoint. I'm trying to understand your reasoning. Telling someone "NO" without explaining is helpful to some people, but not to others. It's one thing to blindly follow guidelines and another to understand the business. I am after the latter.

It's not blind adherence to anything.

A generic "others are reading this" holds no weight. It's easy to say and convenient padding by those who aren't actualy under consideration anywhere. It can also backfire for at least 2 reasons because most people send off multiple queries at once. 1-- the agent can assume that either you're embelishing, as there would be no way for another agent to have requested anything before you sent off the batch of queries. 2 -- the agent may assume that his/her query was in a second tier batch of queries and either they're a fallback name or you have reason to believe none of the earlier reads will be fruitful so you're hedgining your bets.

Even if you have a laundry list to give them, 1 - you're gambling on them actually calling said agent and the one reading either not knowing you by name because his assistant is doing the read or it's at the bottom of his "to read" stack, telling the other agent he's never heard of you and the second agent hits auto-reject, 2 - The reading agent knows you right off the bat, the manuscript isn't something he would handle and he tells the 2nd agent this so the second agent assumes it's bad writing without seeing for himself., 3 - you mention someone whose usual areas of interest aren't the same as the 2nd agent, so that agent assumes the manuscript won't be a good fit.

I saw you posted a question on Nathan Bransford's thread, read a few pages back. "Agents take name dropping with a grain of salt." In other words it doesn't impress. (and FWIW, the scenario with the call leading to a reading agent saying they don't remember the author came from the "Endeavor Agency" thread on this site. Search for it if you want to read a 1st hand account of someone who took that gamble and lost.)


In any case, trying to grab an agent's notice by anything other than the strength of the story presented isn't professional. It reeks of "ameteur" the same as if you were to use fancy print or mail everything in bright blue envelopes to get noticed. They're used to such things being "ploys". You have a VERY limited amount of space in which to get yourself across in a query. Don't waste it by adding things that won't help you.

(ETA, things like that rarely come off as showcasing how in demand you are. They come off as "see how good I am, snap me up before someone else does", and that (even if it's accidentally implied) = instant deletion.)

justAnotherWriter
03-16-2009, 12:31 AM
Thank you, your answer is helpful. That is exactly what I was looking for, and your time is appreciated.

I have some specific questions:


1-- the agent can assume that either you're embelishing, as there would be no way for another agent to have requested anything before you sent off the batch of queries.

If a query letter is professionally written and free of shinanigans, why would the agent assume the writer is lying?


2 -- the agent may assume that his/her query was in a second tier batch of queries and either they're a fallback name or you have reason to believe none of the earlier reads will be fruitful so you're hedgining your bets.

Isn't "hedge your bets" standard advice to all people in the query process?

As for first/second tier, if an agent assumes a person is properly researching agents, why would they assume that writer is shooting off a bunch of queries at once? That would seem to indicate that research is not being done.

Either way, this seems to be an awful lot of thought to put into rejecting a query.

Cyia
03-16-2009, 12:53 AM
Thank you, your answer is helpful. That is exactly what I was looking for, and your time is appreciated.

I have some specific questions:



If a query letter is professionally written and free of shinanigans, why would the agent assume the writer is lying?

Because of the ones that came before it where the author was lying...

Isn't "hedge your bets" standard advice to all people in the query process?

As for first/second tier, if an agent assumes a person is properly researching agents, why would they assume that writer is shooting off a bunch of queries at once? That would seem to indicate that research is not being done.
Because multiple simultaneous queries to 25 - 50 - 100 agents at once are the norm. (Though each should be sent separately so they're not all in the "sent" line) If you only send out 1-2 at a time, you're in for a long wait. There are some agents who take weeks or months to answer a query, others who just don't reply to the ones they reject and still others with super-spam traps that you have no way of knowing if you got through or not.

You should be trying to get as many eyes on your work as possible.

Then, when someone offers you representation, you can write back to all of those others reading it and tell them:

"I have been offered representation by X"

THAT will get them to move your MS to the top of the heap, read it carefully and quickly, and see if they need to snap you up before you sign with an interested competitor.
Either way, this seems to be an awful lot of thought to put into rejecting a query.
It's actually just the opposite. It doesnt require anymore thought that hitting auto-reject. There are enough good writers out there who follow the guidelines that they don't have to use their time for the ones who won't.

justAnotherWriter
03-16-2009, 01:00 AM
Thank you again.

You've said something that made my eyes bulge, and I'd like to follow up on that if I can. :)

100 agents?!? :)

Where are these agents? So far I've found 20, maybe 30 that seem remotely interested in the genres I write in, and that took some work. I looked on the AAR directory, as I didn't think I wanted an agent that was not an AAR member.

Am I wrong in that assumption? Should I also look elsewhere?

Also, don't agents like to know why you are querying them? If you query 100 agents, how are you going to come up with a reason for each one of them, or do you come up with something generic?

Your replies are tremendously helpful, thank you.

waylander
03-16-2009, 01:37 AM
Thank you again.

You've said something that made my eyes bulge, and I'd like to follow up on that if I can. :)

100 agents?!? :)

Where are these agents? So far I've found 20, maybe 30 that seem remotely interested in the genres I write in, and that took some work. I looked on the AAR directory, as I didn't think I wanted an agent that was not an AAR member.

Am I wrong in that assumption? Should I also look elsewhere?

Also, don't agents like to know why you are querying them? If you query 100 agents, how are you going to come up with a reason for each one of them, or do you come up with something generic?

Your replies are tremendously helpful, thank you.

Agentquery.com

The simplest reason for querying an agent is because their guidelines say they represent your genre. You don't necessarily need to refer to a couple of the books they've repped, good if you can authoratively but not essential.

justAnotherWriter
03-16-2009, 02:00 AM
That is an excellent resource, and one that, for some reason, I was not aware of. Thank you so much!

So about the AAR thing...would you consider AAR membership to be important?

Cyia
03-16-2009, 03:06 AM
I try checking their sales records, though not all agents report sales. You can check publishersmarketplace to see if they've made any recent sales in your genre. Also check on querytracker.

1000literaryagents.com also has some email addresses and information about who does and doesn't accept e-queries. I don't think it's as up to date as agentquery, but I've gotten some bites from it.

ETA -- I don't generally personalize my queries accept to change the recipient's name unless their infor specifically asks for the exact thing I"m querying. It's basically a cut and paste form letter.

ETA... take 2 -- I just sent off another new query and had to break my own rule. This agency specifically asks to be informed before hand if anyone else has been queried or is reading the MS. So, it pays to read the guidelines.