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thegirlwhowrites
04-22-2009, 07:36 AM
When submitting your work to an agent, what do they mean by submit it as an exclusive submission or non-exclusive submission?
what's the difference?

Fade
04-22-2009, 07:38 AM
If an agent asks for an exclusive, they are the only ones with the query, so they get first grabs. If it's non-exclusive, you can query four or five non-exclusive agents.

Wayne K
04-22-2009, 07:42 AM
Keep in mind that exclusive agents will send you a form rejection six months later. It happened to me.

thegirlwhowrites
04-22-2009, 07:56 AM
no but I mean, the agent is telling the author to send in their manuscript with the email headline of either exclusive or non-exclusive? how would you know which one to choose?

Fade
04-22-2009, 07:59 AM
If you have sent your query out to other agents and not heard back, it's non exclusive. If you've heard back and given a partial or full, it's non exclusive. If you've heard back and gotten a rejection, it can be sent out as exclusive.

Cyia
04-22-2009, 08:12 AM
Non-exclusive is always better for the writer.

thegirlwhowrites
04-22-2009, 10:33 AM
Oh, OK. got it. Thanks, for all your responses :)

emandem
04-28-2009, 11:44 PM
I used to think I had the definition of exclusive vs. non-exclusive right, but now I'm questioning....

Recently an agent asked me whether or not other agents had partials or fulls of my manuscript, and when I told her both partials and fulls were out with other agents, she said she was only interested in the work if she could have exclusivity, and declined seeing more "until other agents declined the fulls..." ???

I felt stupid emailing her back to see if I understood correctly, but after the whole conversation it sounded as though she wanted to be the only one "with an exclusive full," and that others having queries/partials did not matter.

THEN, another agent asked for an exclusive full and I declined (because, as I said, other agents still have partials/fulls), but now I'm worried I have the whole definition wrong and I may be blowing chances left and right--Ugh!

Does anyone claim to have the universal definition of exclusivity, or does it vary from agent to agent?

suki
04-29-2009, 12:12 AM
Recently an agent asked me whether or not other agents had partials or fulls of my manuscript, and when I told her both partials and fulls were out with other agents, she said she was only interested in the work if she could have exclusivity, and declined seeing more "until other agents declined the fulls..." ???

I felt stupid emailing her back to see if I understood correctly, but after the whole conversation it sounded as though she wanted to be the only one "with an exclusive full," and that others having queries/partials did not matter.



Generally, when an agent asks for an exclusive whatever (partial or full, though usually agents only ask for exclusives with fulls in my experience) they want to be the only one with the equivalent of what they have asked for. So, if the full, and you agree, you are saying that the agent is the only one who will have the full for the period of exclusivity.

If an agent asked for an exclusive on a partial, then I think they mean no one can have as much or more than they do during the period of exclusivity - and, frankly, I wouldn't give any other agent more than a few pages if you have granted an exclusive on a partial.

I think you are correct that the agent doesn't care about queries when they are asking for an exclusive, because implicit in your agreement to give them the exclusive is that if anyone responds to those outstanding queries you will not give that responding agent the manuscript until the exclusive period is up.

And with the second agent who asked for an exclusive, you could have said, sorry, I can not grant an exclusive because the manuscript is out with other agents. Would you care to see it anyway? But then if she had said yes, you would extend the time that agent 1 would have to wait for the exclusive, assuming you were still interested in giving her one.

So, Agent 1 wants to be the only one looking at the manuscript at the time she is looking at it - so that she knows that if she puts any time into it, you won't run off and sign with someone else or pressure her until the exclusive period is over.

So, if you want to give Agent 1 an exclusive, then once all others agents with the full manuscript have passed, or you have withdrawn it from all others, you can get back in touch with one of her and say, "Ok, now I can give you an exclusive for _____ time." If you want. And she specified that she only cares when all agents with fulls have passed, right? So implicit in that is that she doesn't care how many partials or queries you have out, so long as no one else has the full during the time she is considering it.

Arguably, you can continue to query during the exclusive period, but you risk royally pissing off any agent who responds, because then you would have to say "even though I just queried you, I can't give you the manuscript right now because I already gave it exclusively to someone else."

And you also run the risk that an agent with a partial asks for a full during the period of exclusivity, and you have to tell them they can't have the full either.

So, unless Agent 1 is really one of your top choices, it's a risk. Because if you like any of the other agents as muchor better, and they ask for a full while she has it, you will have to tell them you can't give it to them. And if she then makes an offer, you will not be able to hold her off (probably) long enough to have the others read the full. So, youwould have to decide on her (probably) without knowing if any of the others might be seriously interested because they won't have read the full.

hope that helps.

~suki

emandem
04-29-2009, 12:23 AM
THANK you for the help, Suki---I think I've got it now. I guess this means I should only grant exclusivity if I REALLY like the agent. Otherwise, it doesn't benefit you to grant ANY agent exclusivity (maybe a quicker read, but that's all?).

And just b/c queries are out with other agents doesn't mean I CAN'T offer exclusivity...Hmmm. If I were an agent, I don't think I'd ever ask for exclusivity unless I was really getting seriously into the manuscript--Then I might ask for exclusivity so that I didn't waste my time reading for nothing. Again, thanks.

Wayne K
04-29-2009, 12:53 AM
It's the one sidedness of this that ticks me off. The agent wants first dibs with no guarantee to the writer. As I said earlier, I was asked for an exclusive proposal and form rejected by her six months later.

Manix
04-29-2009, 12:58 AM
It's the one sidedness of this that ticks me off. The agent wants first dibs with no guarantee to the writer. As I said earlier, I was asked for an exclusive proposal and form rejected by her six months later.
As I understand it from those in the industry, you don't have to out-and-out lie that you are submitting an exclusive when you're not, but the agent doesn't really expect you'll wait six months for an answer. (what they don't know won't hurt them, eh?;))

suki
04-29-2009, 01:15 AM
As I understand it from those in the industry, you don't have to out-and-out lie that you are submitting an exclusive when you're not, but the agent doesn't really expect you'll wait six months for an answer. (what they don't know won't hurt them, eh?;))

Yeah, unless you get caught...I wouldn't risk my name and reputation with a prospective agent by lying about an exclusive.

Agents and Editors talk. It's a small publishing world, really. I've heard agents and editors discuss problem clients, liars and scammers at conferences and events...seriously, playing fast and loose with your name by playing it that way...

~suki

eqb
04-29-2009, 02:59 AM
Agents and Editors talk. It's a small publishing world, really. I've heard agents and editors discuss problem clients, liars and scammers at conferences and events...seriously, playing fast and loose with your name by playing it that way...

QTF

If you decide you do want to grant an exclusive on a full, then give the agent a reasonable time limit. Say, one month.

suki
04-29-2009, 03:06 AM
QTF

If you decide you do want to grant an exclusive on a full, then give the agent a reasonable time limit. Say, one month.

Yes, agree on the time limit.

QTF?

~suki

Manix
04-29-2009, 03:47 AM
Yeah, unless you get caught...I wouldn't risk my name and reputation with a prospective agent by lying about an exclusive.

Agents and Editors talk. It's a small publishing world, really. I've heard agents and editors discuss problem clients, liars and scammers at conferences and events...seriously, playing fast and loose with your name by playing it that way...

~suki

Like I said, you don't have to lie to them. You can agree to a time limit, as others said, but this I read this advice from a reputable agent who published a book on querying and submitting. I am not prone to lying. I wouldn't want to have that kind of relationship with a potential future agent. I just don't think they all expect that you will give them all exclusivity on your submission for a year or two with no strings attached.

suki
04-29-2009, 04:32 AM
Like I said, you don't have to lie to them. You can agree to a time limit, as others said, but this I read this advice from a reputable agent who published a book on querying and submitting. I am not prone to lying. I wouldn't want to have that kind of relationship with a potential future agent. I just don't think they all expect that you will give them all exclusivity on your submission for a year or two with no strings attached.

Absolutely you should give time limits, and not limitless exclusives.

But I read your post as saying, wink wink, you don't have to live up to the exclusive terms you agree to - at least that's how it read to me, with the parenthetical info. What did you mean then by, "(what they don't know won't hurt them, eh?)"

IMO, if you agree to an exclusive, be clear about the terms up front, including for how long you are granting the agent an exclusive.

~suki

Wayne K
04-29-2009, 04:34 AM
I lied. When I didn't hear from her in a few weeks I sent it to everyone who would listen. It's my book, not theirs. Would you stop advertising your car because some guy is thinking about buying it?

The first person to put a contract in my hand wins. As I said, it's mine and I'll show it to whomever I want. If agents want to be treated with respect they should show some.

eqb
04-29-2009, 05:04 AM
QTF?

Sorry for the acronym. It means Quoted For Truth.

eqb
04-29-2009, 05:12 AM
I lied. When I didn't hear from her in a few weeks I sent it to everyone who would listen. It's my book, not theirs. Would you stop advertising your car because some guy is thinking about buying it?

Since you didn't set a time limit to the exclusive, the professional approach would be to send her a follow-up query in a month. If she didn't answer that within a week, the next step would be to send another email saying that you were ending exclusivity.

Wayne K
04-29-2009, 06:12 AM
Since you didn't set a time limit to the exclusive, the professional approach would be to send her a follow-up query in a month. If she didn't answer that within a week, the next step would be to send another email saying that you were ending exclusivity.

The professional thing after six months would have been for her to respond with more than a standard rejection form. I guess we were both off the mark.

I'm tired of being so obliging to people who act like we're makng a living off their talent instead of the other way around. Why is respect heaped on agents instead of earned, it is for us. If you (generic you) don't mind someone treating you like crap that's cool, being published isn't enough to me to be treated like a second class citizen by them or anyone.

I would rather die in obscurity than be treated like I don't matter.

If being published was all that I would have accepted the offer I had on the table last summer. It's not. I demand some respect too, I don't care who you are.

Manix
04-29-2009, 06:18 AM
I lied. When I didn't hear from her in a few weeks I sent it to everyone who would listen. It's my book, not theirs. Would you stop advertising your car because some guy is thinking about buying it?

The first person to put a contract in my hand wins. As I said, it's mine and I'll show it to whomever I want. If agents want to be treated with respect they should show some.
This is what the agent in the book recommended, exactly, Wayne. This agent was saying basically that they don't expect people to give them a blank check. I forget the name of the book. I got it at the library awhile back. But the guy was an agent and he and his wife co-authored the book about querying. I didn't think they were condoning dishonesty, just letting you know that agents realize you have a life too.

scope
04-29-2009, 07:46 AM
Exclusivity should never be granted on queries. Agents expect that you have sent queries to a number of agents.

You have a decision to make if the first agent to contact you asks to read your full or partial, but also asks for an exclusive read. Personally, I don't believe in granting exclusives, although there are always some rare exceptions. When you grant an exclusive you are telling the agent that no other agent will have the opportunity to read your work until that agent reaches a decision. If this is what you want to do, you should be certain to tell the agent exactly the exact time frame she has on the exclusive. IMO 4-6 weeks at the most. Whatever decision you make, be sure to live up to your word. Agents/editors from different houses meet and talk all the time, in a variety of ways.

If you don't want to grant an exclusive, don't. Here I think it's okay to simply write back and say something like you are gratified by the request but can't grant the exclusive at this time since your work is out on a non-exclusive basis with others. Tell the agent that you'd be happy to send your work if under the circumstances she's still interested.

If you do grant an exclusive remember that the 4-6 weeks can get extended (if you agree) should the agent ask for revisions but not yet a contract.

Momento Mori
04-29-2009, 01:36 PM
Wayne K:
I was asked for an exclusive proposal and form rejected by her six months later.

That's precisely why exclusives suck. Granting an exclusive is no guarantee that an agent will take on your manuscript. In fact, it's not even a guarantee that they will read it all.

I'd personally only grant an exclusive if it was an agent I was desperate to have represent me and even then, I'd limit it to an absolute maximum of 3 months.


Wayne K:
I lied. When I didn't hear from her in a few weeks I sent it to everyone who would listen. It's my book, not theirs. Would you stop advertising your car because some guy is thinking about buying it?

That's your prerogative. But bear in mind that the agenting business is a small world and they do talk to each other. Imagine the scenario:

Two agents go out to lunch. One of them says they've just received an awesome manuscript about penguin assassins from the Planet Ninja and they're going to offer representation. Second agent says that this is an amazing coincidence - they have an exclusive on an awesome manuscript about penguin assassins from the Planet Ninja and they're going to offer representation.

Both agents look at each other, realising that the odds of two separate manuscripts about penguin assassins are astronomical.

Second agent asks the first when they got the manuscript. First agent says they got it a week earlier. Both agents decide that the author is a clueless amateur who doesn't honour their agreement and is therefore not worth representing. Each sends a form rejection when they get back to the office.

Fin.


Wayne K:
I'm tired of being so obliging to people who act like we're makng a living off their talent instead of the other way around.

It's up to you, but unfortunately that's the nature of the business you're trying to get into. Agents don't owe anything to the people querying them. They're inundated with manuscripts and can afford to be choosy. And because they're inundated with manuscripts, they get to set the rules as to how they run the process.

If the submission process is really so distasteful to you, then you can try submitting directly to those few publishers who still accept unsolicited manuscripts or you can self-publish.

MM

eqb
04-29-2009, 03:30 PM
This is what the agent in the book recommended, exactly, Wayne. This agent was saying basically that they don't expect people to give them a blank check.

I really wish you still had the book, because I suspect that they weren't talking about exclusives. More likely, they meant something like:

Agents don't expect you to query one agent at a time. And unless you've granted someone an exclusive, they also don't expect you to submit to only one agent at a time.

If this book did advise you to lie, I'd avoid that agent and someone too unscrupulous for me to trust with my work and my money.

Wayne K
04-29-2009, 03:47 PM
That's precisely why exclusives suck. Granting an exclusive is no guarantee that an agent will take on your manuscript. In fact, it's not even a guarantee that they will read it all.

I'd personally only grant an exclusive if it was an agent I was desperate to have represent me and even then, I'd limit it to an absolute maximum of 3 months.



That's your prerogative. But bear in mind that the agenting business is a small world and they do talk to each other. Imagine the scenario:

Two agents go out to lunch. One of them says they've just received an awesome manuscript about penguin assassins from the Planet Ninja and they're going to offer representation. Second agent says that this is an amazing coincidence - they have an exclusive on an awesome manuscript about penguin assassins from the Planet Ninja and they're going to offer representation.

Both agents look at each other, realising that the odds of two separate manuscripts about penguin assassins are astronomical.

Second agent asks the first when they got the manuscript. First agent says they got it a week earlier. Both agents decide that the author is a clueless amateur who doesn't honour their agreement and is therefore not worth representing. Each sends a form rejection when they get back to the office.

Fin.



It's up to you, but unfortunately that's the nature of the business you're trying to get into. Agents don't owe anything to the people querying them. They're inundated with manuscripts and can afford to be choosy. And because they're inundated with manuscripts, they get to set the rules as to how they run the process.

If the submission process is really so distasteful to you, then you can try submitting directly to those few publishers who still accept unsolicited manuscripts or you can self-publish.

MM

Thank you for such a detalied response.

Two things:
The first is that I don't find the process distatseful, just the one agent.

Second: As much as an agent doesn't owe me anything, it's a two way street, I owe nobody in this business anything. Agents make money from our work. I didn't sign anything so a lawyer told me I had no ties to her. If that chance meeting happened, I would just put their form rejects in the pile and move on. I have confidence in my books.

Momento Mori
04-29-2009, 06:05 PM
Wayne K:
I didn't sign anything so a lawyer told me I had no ties to her.

Personally I'd take issue with your lawyer. If you had a verbal agreement or an email correspondence where you said you'd give the agent the exclusive, then you are tied to it. You don't need a written contract for the exclusivity provision to be deemed to be enforceable (although saying that, the chances of any agent enforcing an exclusivity agreement are slight because they'll move on to the next writer).


Wayne K:
I have confidence in my books.

Cool. I sincerely wish you the best of luck.

MM

Wayne K
04-29-2009, 06:13 PM
The lawyer said that after there was no response to the follow up.

I had an agent and a publisher who wanted it, they didn't see a problem with it either. Three months after that I got a reject card, I felt foolish for waiting three months when I got that.

That was one agent though. The others are and were very professional.

Manix
04-29-2009, 06:17 PM
Personally I'd take issue with your lawyer. If you had a verbal agreement or an email correspondence where you said you'd give the agent the exclusive, then you are tied to it. You don't need a written contract for the exclusivity provision to be deemed to be enforceable (although saying that, the chances of any agent enforcing an exclusivity agreement are slight because they'll move on to the next writer).



Cool. I sincerely wish you the best of luck.

MM

I think that this would be a matter of legal debate. Verbal agreements are not uncommon, as a matter of trust, and you want to have trust in an author/agent relationship. (You're only as good as your word) For me, if I give someone my word on something, I mean it, but I don't think this is the same thing as giving an agent jurisdiction over all of my choices in regards to my work. I still get the final word on it, even if I do shoot myself in the foot.

Momento Mori
04-29-2009, 06:25 PM
Wayne K:
The lawyer said that after there was no response to the follow up.

Ah okay. I understand now.


Manix:
I think that this would be a matter of legal debate. Verbal agreements are not uncommon, as a matter of trust, and you want to have trust in an author/agent relationship.

Of course - but then, everything's a matter of legal debate. ;) I agree that verbal agreements are not uncommon, it's just that a common thing I see is some people who think that because they've agreed something verbally, then they're not bound to do what they say. There are circumstances when that ain't necessarily so.

MM