View Full Version : Partial --> Full --> Agent/Publisher

03-03-2010, 04:35 AM
One of the things I realized is we never have had a thread about going from partial to full to agent or publisher. There's a lot of info out there on going from query to partial and a fair amount of info on from query to an agent. And individuals have given this information. We've also gotten it from various agents, but that's sort of the other side of the coin. What I'd like to do is get this information into one thread.

The question is what are the chances from a partial to a full, and from a full to an agent or publisher. Needless to say, for an individual piece of work, the only question is whether it is good enough, or not. But overall, I guess I'm wondering if you send out X number of fulls, what should your expectation be.

To give you my experience:

EQUINE LIABILITY had partials to two publishers (publishing expectations would not warrant an agent). One made an offer. The second had an editor who liked it, but couldn't quite sell it to her staff. As it was nonfiction, the book wasn't written until after the offer.
STALLED DREAMS was originally sent out years ago, with no requests for anything. I realized it had some serious problems, but more to experiment with queries, I sent it out. It resulted in 9 requests for partials, two of which ended in requests for fulls. No offer was made, but as I said, I knew it had serious problems.
THE NEXT STEP went out with a partial for most of the queries. It had three requests for fulls, one of which resulted in an offer of representation.
THE PICTURE had more naked queries than THE NEXT STEP. End result was six requests for partials, two requests for fulls. I think its problem is that its a YA book (based on age of the protagonist), yet written as an adult book. I received no offers for representation.
VENOM is not my book, but I did the querying for it, as well as writing the query. It had six requests for partials, none of which requested anything more. It has a whole heap of problems in the first ten pages, which the writer decided he didn't need to deal with.

So how successful were you when you sent out partials and fulls for getting the job done?

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

03-03-2010, 08:06 AM
Well, I sent out a total of fifty-one queries for my novel. I sent my queries out in batches of ten, one batch per week. I didn't wait to get rejections from everybody I queried before I sent out more batches, because I know a lot of agents have a long turnaround time and I wanted to hit as many agents as I could before the holidays (I started querying in mid-September.)

Out of fifty-one queries, I received one partial request immediately (the day after I sent the query, in the first group of ten.) Later on (about two weeks later), I also received a full request from the first group of queries in response to a required snail-mail submission of the synopsis and first fifty pages. This query that resulted in a full request was the only snail-mailed query in Group One -- the rest were email.

The full request was an exclusive read, and while the agent was still reading it, the partial from Group One turned into a full request, which I had to postpone because of the exclusive read. I continued to send out queries, in case both full requests didn't pan out.

The intervening four groups of ten queries were all rejections. During the time I was sending these four rounds of ten queries each, the full request was rejected with suggestions for revision and an invitation to resubmit once revisions were made. I did the suggested revisions in three days and resubmitted to the agent.

Finally I got to the fifth group of ten queries. I received two enthusiastic-sounding partial requests from this group, and also sent the full request to the agent I had to postpone due to the exclusive read. Simultaneously, the initial agent who'd made the full request from the snail submission read the revised version of my book (no longer on exclusive read, by now). In late January, she offered representation, and I happily accepted.

Sounds kind of confusing, I know. But I think the way I did it, with groups of ten going out at regular intervals, was a nice, organized way to handle the query process, though.

I sent the query with required partial on 19 September via post, and signed my contract on 21 January. In those four months, I mailed two complete manuscripts to this agent (the initial full, and the revised version), and weathered the long holiday season. Not too bad, considering Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year were in there.

So...all in all, one partial that turned into a full, two partials, and one full straight from a query that included a partial. Forty-seven outright or implied rejections from the query letter alone. None of my partials or fulls resulted in rejections (though, who knows, they may have if I hadn't signed with my agent when I did). :D

My expectation really was that anybody who was interested enough by my query to request a partial or a full would be likely to really enjoy the book. I didn't expect my story or my writing style to appeal to the majority of agents, so I was not at all upset by the large number of rejections.

03-03-2010, 08:12 AM
Libbie, this is off-topic. But how did you keep track of the lists of agents you queried? I'm just wondering what the most efficient method is.

03-03-2010, 08:18 AM
I'm not Libbie, obviously, but I can tell you what I do. I keep a spreadsheet with 3 tabs. One for queries sent, with the name of the agent, the agency, email address, etc., one for query rejections received, and another for agent requests. :)

03-03-2010, 03:49 PM
First time around I queried about 20 agents, had 3 partial to full requests that came back immediately, 2 more full requests and and offer in under a week.

Second time around, 38 queries, 16 R's, 5 full requests (query to full, no partials at all), 3 offers of rep. Took under a month.

I also have a spreadsheet that I use to track who had what and responses. I had columns for the various stages.

03-03-2010, 05:56 PM
I sent out 28 queries.

Of those, I got 6 partial requests and 4 full requests. Of those, two had pages attached to the queries, so they asked for additional pages (either partial or full) on top of what I'd already sent.

9 queries got no response at all. 9 queries were rejections.

One partial and one full came back with "revise and resubmit" notes on them. Unfortunately, they both gave me suggestions that were the exact opposites of each other, and therefore I had to chalk those up to personal taste.

I pulled two partials and one full from consideration once I had my offer. So 3 partials and 1 full resulted in out and out rejections.

My whole process took about 6 months (sent my first query on Feb. 28, signed with agent on Sept. 5). I sent my queries out in tiny batches of three or so, sometimes with weeks between batches. The agent who offered was one of the very last ones I queried. I queried him on 8/16, he asked for the full on 8/19, and offered representation on 9/4.

I used a spreadsheet to track mine, in addition to Querytracker.net

Calla Lily
03-03-2010, 06:13 PM
I don't have exact figures, but:

For 2 books total I sent out a first wave of approx 150 queries. The first wave lasted nearly a year and stopped when I signed with a clueless, useless "agency." A year after that, when she folded, I rebooted the query machine and sent out about 50 more for those 2 books, plus a 3rd I'd written in the meantime. This wave lasted about 6 months.

I used Query Tracker and 3 spreadsheets. Total for both waves: about 2 dozen partial/full requests and 2 R&Rs. My agent was not one of the R&Rs: I sent query plus one chapter on a Thursday, he called to request the full on Friday, he called to discuss the book on Monday, and offered representation on Wednesday.

03-03-2010, 06:20 PM
My stats: Finished book Jan. 26. Sent out 10 queries on Feb. 2nd. Received 3 requests for fulls, 2 requests for partials, 1 request for book proposal (it's a memoir, which shouldn't require it, so I didn't write the proposal), 4 rejections.
Yesterday I had lunch with 2 agents from my first choice agency and they offered representation.

03-03-2010, 07:30 PM
EQUINE LIABILITY had partials to two publishers (publishing expectations would not warrant an agent). One made an offer. The second had an editor who liked it, but couldn't quite sell it to her staff. As it was nonfiction, the book wasn't written until after the offer.

This I don't understand. I believe any publishable book warrants an agent.

03-03-2010, 07:56 PM
My stats - not exact since I don't have my spreadsheet handy:

I sent 9-10 queries over ten months in small batches. I went slow because I was usuing a bit of an unusual structure for the book, and I didn't want to burn my whole agent list before I maybe got some professional feedback (beyond my peer readers). All of those queries went out with pages attached (somewhere between 3 and10 as I recall). From those 9-10 queries, three agents asked for partials (2 within a week, 1 about three months after the query). Two of the partials were rejected with nice form rejections. The third was still outstanding 5 months after it was requested. I also had essentially a referral to an agent, and she asked for the full off the referral.

During that same time, two editors asked for the manuscript - one asked for a partial off of an online first page critique, and the second asked for the full off of a casual interaction at an event. The partial became a request for a full.

So, as of August 2009, I had a partial out with an agent (had been out for 5 months), the full out with the referral agent (had been out for about a month or so, I think), and I had the two fulls out with editors (both for about 3-4 months).

At that point I felt the query and manuscript were both working and sent out 6 more queries over a couple days - all had pages attached (between 5 and 20).

The August 2009 query with 20 pages attached resulted in a request for the full about two weeks later. While that full was pending (and the other fulls and partials from above), an editor at a conference asked for the manuscript off of critiquing the first ten pages. But before I acted on the conference request, the agent with the full from the August 2009 query offered representation (about two weeks after I sent the full).

I notified the other agents and ultimately did sign with the agent who had asked for the full off the August 2009 query. He then contacted the editors, pulled the version of the manuscript the two had and let all three know we'd be doing some revisions and then he would be submitting the manuscript.

So, my process took about 10-11 months, but I signed with the 11th agent I queried, and from query to offer took about a month. And since I was gong slow to check the manuscript format, I should add that I did do a substantial revision after the first partial rejection (due to critique from another source) but that after that I felt the manuscript was working and did no more than tweak it. I'll also add that while many of my queries were personalized with specific agent bait (ie, references to specific interests or statements of the agent), the one that resulted in representation was not.


03-03-2010, 07:56 PM
Hey, congratulations, Elisa :)

03-03-2010, 08:38 PM
thanks, Kathleen :)
I really do think that it's hard to predict how quick agents are going to bite....I was a nervous wreck over the last month, especially since my book is 200K (and yes, I'll have to do a bit of trimming). But in the end, it's always about the writing, isn't it?
All the published writers in these forums have been saying that if the writing is publishable, it's going to eventually be agented. How long that takes, and with whom....seem to be the biggest variables involved.

03-03-2010, 10:27 PM
Ignoring anything I wrote during what I call my 'apprenticeship'...

At the end of last year I sent out a partial (first three chapters, synopsis) of Book #1 to an agent. This is a standard initial submission package in the UK. A month later I got a knockback.

So I sent the partial out to a publisher this time. Five days later I got a full request.

So...two queries sent out in total. :D

Also, last night I subbed another novel to another publisher - sending fulls is acceptable, so I did that. Five minutes later she emailed me back to acknowledge receipt and say she'd get to it in around a fortnight.

I keep a spreadsheet to keep track of who has what, but it's pretty anaemic. I've subbed these two novels three times in total and only had one 'no'.

03-04-2010, 02:33 AM
EQUINE LIABILITY had partials to two publishers (publishing expectations would not warrant an agent). One made an offer. The second had an editor who liked it, but couldn't quite sell it to her staff. As it was nonfiction, the book wasn't written until after the offer. This I don't understand. I believe any publishable book warrants an agent.

Normally I'd agree with you, but there are exceptions. First off is the fact that I am an attorney, and had been in business. Contracts don't bother me, and what I don't know, I'm willing to learn. And I know how to find the right person to ask questions of to learn.

Second is I knew up front sales would be unlikely to get into the five figures for total books. Fifteen percent of a small number is an even smaller number. It would have been hard to generate interest by an agent because of those numbers.

Third is I knew the possible publishers. I had an extensive knowledge of the equine industry, and knew who the five publishers that had any real probability of publishing the book. Only a publisher already in the market would be interested in something that was somewhat esoteric. Two of the publishers I already knew (the one I went with and another who rejected with no hard feelings) and one I had been riding with. I also knew the other attorneys who had written in the field. No agent had the knowledge that I already had.

Four was I had contacts within the magazine industry for horses. I'd been published in several and knew the editors. I was able to use this to get two of them to publish a chapter in their magazines when the book came out. But it also helped in providing information on the publishers.

Fifth was the fact that only two of the publishers offered advances, and these are not high, rarely going over a thousand dollars. Again, a problem for interesting agents.

Sixth is I'm used to negotiating. Did a bit better than one of the other attorneys in this niche and the same as the other (we have three different publishers).

Seventh is there wasn't much of an issue on rights. Foreign rights for an American legal book don't exist. I have no idea why I'm in 2 libraries in Canada, 1 in the Netherlands, and 1 in Australia. Nor do I understand why people in foreign countries bought my book. Nor did I care about audio books, as I think research type books done in an audio format are useless. You need to be able to bounce back and forth. And e-publishing was not a concern at the time.

Would I recommend not having an agent normally? Absolutely not. Would an agent have been able to help me? Probably not, but agents are hardest to use in small niche markets. If you're going into such a niche market, however, you'd better know it very well.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

03-04-2010, 03:28 AM
I was facing a massive move across country (job loss) and had to pack up everything, then spend every dime I had saved for plane fare and shipping all my computer hardware and software via UPS. Where I was going had no landline phone or DSL availability. I seriously thought it was the end of my writing life, and I promised myself if it was, I would go out with a rip-snorting bang.

So, I spent a solid two months, reseaching every agent in the world that would take thriller, action/adventure, and military espionage. All e-mail candidates--every query was personalized to each agent, and I don't mean just their name. I mean I made comments on everything from their authors (books), to their background, to their mission statement, to their education, and even location.

In that two month period I blasted out 450+ submissions before I boarded the plane. My plan was to check in on my nephew's computer (20 miles away) to answer any requests when I got to destination. (I fired my agent before I sent out anything).

Four months later I had 150 rejections, 15 full requests, 14 partial requests, four referrals (which got another four fulls), five contract offers, about four near-misses, and believe it or not, about 290 non-responders. Plus the biggest stack of mail I've ever received from the rejecting agents. It's funny, but the four offers came within the same week, and the fifth came later, which totally blew me away. So I held my own little agent auction. I sure did manage to piss a few of them off, but I got the A-lister I wanted.

I don't subscribe to this method. It was a last dying ditch effort, but it worked for me, given the circumstances. Before I even sent out Diane Nine and the Fusion Machine, I put the concept/idea up on the Sandbox board along with several other concepts for other novels. D9 slaughtered the others, garnering the most votes. It's also taken first place in my Booksie display site, pulling twice the read counts of my other seven novels. Somehow I knew D9 was magic. I had a good book, finally. But it's NOT a great book--it's commercial, high-concept hack. My agent and I will totally transform it. THEN I might have that breakout I've been looking for.


03-04-2010, 03:47 AM
Taking the results so far (new results I'll add on as they come in), produces the following table (the formatting here for columns isn't the greatest):

......2........................................... .1..... Nonfiction
......9....................2...................... 0.....
...........................3...................... .1.....
......6....................2...................... 0.....
......6....................0...................... 0.....
......3....................2...................... 1.....
......3....................5...................... 1.....
............................3..................... .3.....
......6....................4...................... 1.....
......3....................3...................... 1.....
......4....................4...................... 1.....
......2....................1...................... .......
............................1..................... ........
......3....................7...................... 2..... (3 books combined)
.....14..................19.....................5. .....

Lack of a number means that either partials or fulls were not submitted. Also, a partial does not always generate a full and a full can be requested without a partial.

Remember that people are more bashful about discussing failure rather than success. Other than that, whatever conclusions you draw are your own.

Thanks for all the information.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

03-04-2010, 04:24 AM
Jim, I clarified what I was rambling on about by rep point, but to set things straight here:

Book #1: I sent out a partial to an agent, who replied with a 'no'.
I then sent the same partial out to a publisher, who asked for the full. No reply as yet.

The second submission was a full I sent to an editor who accepts complete manuscripts on the initial contact.

No offers on either as yet. (Well the second was only sent last night and even I don't work that fast)!

03-04-2010, 04:36 AM
Libbie, this is off-topic. But how did you keep track of the lists of agents you queried? I'm just wondering what the most efficient method is.

Yup -- just like Damien, I kept a spreadsheet.

One spreadsheet tab for the list of all the agents I'd be querying, then one tab for each batch of ten I sent out. I recorded the date sent and the method (snail vs. email), and what the agent requested (query only, query + synopsis, etc.) As replies came in, I noted the date and result on the spreadsheet.

Spreadsheets rock.