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flotsamarama
06-21-2005, 05:26 AM
In early February I sent a query letter to 15 agents. Several of them answered with a thanks-but-no-thanks response. One of them quickly responded with a request for sample chapters, and then quickly followed up with a request for the entire manuscript on an exclusive basis. I was happy to oblige. So happy, in fact, that I did not request a time frame for the exclusivity. (I'm new at this.)

In the meantime, a few other agents responded to my original query, expressing an interest in seeing all or part of my manuscript. I answered them by thanking them and explaining that it was being considered on an exclusive basis. I told them I would send them the manuscript if/when I was released from my obligation of exclusivity.

That's the background. My question is this: What is a reasonable time for exclusive consideration? Should I write a follow-up letter to establish an end-date to the exclusivity? It has been three months -- not a long time in this business, I acknowledge, but long enough to make me crazy because other agents have expressed an interest in my book but I can't do anything about it.

Any ideas or suggestions? Thanks.

Cathy C
06-21-2005, 07:14 PM
Patience, grasshopper.


For a full ms., three months is the bare minimum. However, if you want to hedge your bets, you could send a follow up email to the first agent, asking if they've received it (unless you already know for certain.) Then, when the agent responds, you've got a captive audience -- but don't abuse it. You can say that you've received additional queries and would like to know what the expected turn around time might be, so you can show professional courtesy by notifying the other agents.

The agent shouldn't be offended since it's already been three months.

Good luck!

flotsamarama
06-21-2005, 08:06 PM
Thank you, Cathy!

I wish I had an e-mail address. Everything has been via snail mail. I'm pretty sure the agent received it. I sent a follow-up letter to her a few weeks ago after I got a card from the editor at a publishing company saying the manuscript was still under consideration (it's been with them for 10 months, and they knew I was going to market it elsewhere if I had not heard from them by early February...) The follow-up letter a few weeks ago was to tell the agent of the editor's update, hoping that the fact that it was "still under consideration" would be added incentive for her representation. I had told her about the editor/publisher in the cover letter I mailed to her with the manuscript.

It's this waiting that gets to me!

MarkEsq
06-22-2005, 04:28 PM
I'm no pro, but ten months seems excessive to me. I know they are busy, but it shows very little consideration for you and seems to be taking advantage of the clear power differential between agent and wanna-be author. It's a tough position for you, I agree, and the waiting would be doing me in also! I hope others with more experience chime in because this could happen to any of us. Good luck!

flotsamarama
06-22-2005, 05:18 PM
Thanks, MarkEsq,

My posting may have been kind of confusing... The manuscript has been with a publisher for 10 months, but with an agent for only three of those months. (Six months after I sent it to a publisher who had expressed interest in seeing it, I wrote them back to say if I hadn't heard from them by a certain date, I would send it elsewhere for consideration.... Enter, the agent who asked for exclusivity. She's had it three months. In the meantime, I got a response from the editor at the publishing house who said he was sorry for the delay, he understood I was sending it elsewhere, but it was still under consideration there....Then, I wrote the agent to tell her of the editor's "still under consideration" message, hoping that would make her more interested in representing me.) Sorry! More background that you probably wanted/needed!

Should I send a letter to the agent (e-mails aren't an option) asking for a time frame for her exclusivity, explaining that I've put off other agents who have expressed an interest in seeing all or part of the manuscript in order to honor her request ? Or will that likely tick her off? (I respect her and would love her to represent me, but I'm not sure of the protocol here) And, if a letter requesting a time frame is in order, what's a realistic time frame to request?

Thanks for any/all advice.

Cathy C
06-22-2005, 06:30 PM
Well, most agents have a website and e-mail capability (worry if they *don't*!) If you don't have it, spend a buck and call the agency to GET the main website or e-mail address. Or, PM me the name and I'll find it for you. :D

flotsamarama
06-22-2005, 07:43 PM
Hi Cathy,

This agent's firm has a very nice website; conspicuously absent are any e-mail addresses for any of the firm's agents. It is a reputable firm, receiving "hundreds of submissions every month" (according to the site), so I'm sure that's why they don't give out e-mail addresses. By calling the firm and asking for her e-mail address, I call attention to myself (because surely they don't give it out to any caller) and run the risk of appearing pushy.

I'm fine with snail mail, but it's harder to find an entry point into the time-frame topic when using that method.

So, anyone have ideas about a snail mail approach? Or should I wait longer (and, if so, how much longer)?

SnowOwl
06-23-2005, 02:52 AM
Rest assured that the agents do have email addresses...maybe you should email Cathy. We have ways of making the Internet talk. Mediabistro, for instance, has supplied me with the secret knowledge of the Dark Side. And by that I mean agents who don't list their emails on their websites and such, as well as some other nifty information.

:guns:

flotsamarama
06-23-2005, 04:12 AM
Ahh yes. I know agents have e-mail addresses but I have been fighting the urge to go to the Dark Side! Maybe I just need to break down and enlist Cathy's help as a cyberspace guide to the agent's vulnerable fleshy side...

flotsamarama
08-03-2005, 06:34 AM
I couldn't stand it any longer and wrote the agent a letter expressing my concern that the exclusivity had no time frame... and establishing a deadline for the end of the month (five months total)... I hope I haven't basically written my own rejection letter!

aruna
08-03-2005, 10:40 AM
Rest assured that the agents do have email addresses...maybe you should email Cathy. We have ways of making the Internet talk. Mediabistro, for instance, has supplied me with the secret knowledge of the Dark Side. And by that I mean agents who don't list their emails on their websites and such, as well as some other nifty information.

:guns:

The website www.everyonewhosanyone.com (http://www.everyonewhosanyone.com) also lists agent and editor addresses - even agaist the will of the parties concerned.

flotsamarama
08-03-2005, 06:03 PM
Thanks, aruna. I found the agent's e-mail address at the site you mentioned after Cathy and SnowOwl posted, but I'm trying snail mail first and saving e-mail nudges as a last resort. Anything to try to stay on the agent's good side, you know!

Andrew Zack
08-03-2005, 06:55 PM
Folks, if an agent isn't posting their email address, there's a reason: THEY DON'T WANT EMAIL FROM YOU! Digging up his or her email address is an invasion of his or privacy. Authors whom I did not email first who send me email get deleted pretty much unread. My submission guidelines are CRYSTAL clear on this. Authors who choose to ignore those guidelines are sending me a message: "I don't like to do business the way you do. I will be difficult to work with."

That said, I think it's fine to state what the period of exclusivity will be when you send an agent something exclusively. Frankly, I never ask for exclusivity. In my experience, only one in several dozen authors has found an agent by the time I get to read something. Odds are the project will still be free. In all my years as an agent, that's only led to regret once, but every agent has at LEAST one story like that.

Follow the submission guidelines. Don't stalk agents and email them when they try to keep their email private (if they INVITE email contact, that's another story, obviously). And please don't reward the creator of that website you mention by publicizing it. He's a jerk for doing what he does and for not honoring removal requests. If I started a website that posted the names and contact info for authors who sent me queries, along with their letters to me and my responses, I'd be tarred and feathered by a mob from SFWA, MWA, HWA and RWA. That website creator was banned from this site because of his rude posts. Please, just ignore the site and hopefully it will die off.

Thanks.

Best,
Andy

flotsamarama
08-03-2005, 07:16 PM
Thanks, Andy. Your frustration with that site and with writers who don't follow your posted guidelines is precisely why I haven't e-mailed this agent... and I hope I don't ever feel desperate enough to resort to that. I wouldn't want my e-mail address posted on a website either, as that's one way spam generators harvest addresses.

Thanks, too, for reassurance that establishing an end-date for exclusivity isn't out of line.

victoriastrauss
08-03-2005, 09:04 PM
And please don't reward the creator of that website you mention by publicizing it. He's a jerk for doing what he does and for not honoring removal requests.Not to mention, his information isn't always accurate, and he lists a fair number of questionable-to-marginal agents and publishers.

- Victoria

aruna
08-03-2005, 09:44 PM
Not to mention, his information isn't always accurate, and he lists a fair number of questionable-to-marginal agents and publishers.

- Victoria

Ooops! Seems I'm stepped over the line! Sorry!
I do find him very objectionable - but I was really happy when, searching his website, I found the email address of an editor i had once met and spoken to at Harpercollins, and who had moved to another publisher, which I hadn't known. I didn't hesitate to write him, as he knew me; I told him I wanted to move, and he asked for the full manuscript. Finally he turned it down as it was not at all the kind of book he handles, but it was a pleasant exchange.

StoryG27
08-05-2005, 07:02 PM
Andrew,
This isn't an exclusive situation, but along the same line being discussed here. I sent a partial per an agent's request, and in the 'form' request letter the agent stated that if I haven't heard from her in a month, I was invited to call to check up on my work. Now, here's where the story twists. She sent back my material with a handwritten letter saying it was great, but could I please submit a shorter (~100,000wds) ms, because my first one topped 180. Sure, why not? So I did, and I queried again (I didn't think it'd be nice to send the entire ms and mark it as requested because the two novels are completely different, same genre, way different stories). She answered my equery and said, "Send me a partial...I'm intrigued." But this time, it wasn't a form letter and so there was no invatation to call. I'm wondering if I should follow the guideline of the first form letter and wait a month to inquire with a short email (which she provided me in her response email, different from the submission address) or if I should ignore the first form letter and not check in at all.
We writers are tortured with the waiting. Is it ok to ask for a nible of information in this case (after the appropriate amount of time, of course)?

Julie Worth
08-05-2005, 08:02 PM
That's the background. My question is this: What is a reasonable time for exclusive consideration? Should I write a follow-up letter to establish an end-date to the exclusivity? It has been three months -- not a long time in this business, I acknowledge, but long enough to make me crazy because other agents have expressed an interest in my book but I can't do anything about it.

All this stepping around and worrying is amazing to me. An agent/writer relationship is a two-way street, or it should be. If the agent wants things just so and that doesn't suit you, shop for another agent. If the agent has your ms. for three months and hasnít responded, Iíd take that as a pass and send out more material.

Andrew Zack
08-05-2005, 09:36 PM
Julie:

There are FAR more writers than there are agents. Hence, it's something of a "buyer's" market. So unless you're a proven writer with a successful track record, the keys are patience and professionalism (and by that, I mean following submission guidelines) when seeking an agent.

Best,
Andy

Julie Worth
08-05-2005, 10:03 PM
Julie:

There are FAR more writers than there are agents. Hence, it's something of a "buyer's" market. So unless you're a proven writer with a successful track record, the keys are patience and professionalism (and by that, I mean following submission guidelines) when seeking an agent.

Best,
Andy

Good point, and this came up on another thread, where an author of several published books was not happy with her agent, and so was out querying, following the guidelines, sending just one or two pages. It seemed to me that most agents would not expect that, that they would be happy to receive the full ms. (or at least a partial) from a person with several books out by a big publisher. Example from a well known agency:

Published Fiction Authors
If you are a published author and have sold more than 5,000 copies, send:
1. The first three chapters, or
2. Your complete manuscript,
3. A 5-10-page synopsis, and
4. A self-addressed, stamped envelope.

Unpublished Fiction Authors
If you have already completed your manuscript, please send:
1. A cover letter,
2. A 5-10-page synopsis,
3. The first three chapters, and
4. A self-addressed, stamped envelope