View Full Version : Submit full MS, or partial, or nothing?

09-15-2005, 02:03 PM
Ello. Long time lurker, first time poster, in need of an agent's advice.

Sent half a dozen queries off for my completed MS last week, and got the first reply this morning from an agent in London (im English BTW), and it goes like this.

Thank you for your letter of 6th September, We do appreciate your thinking of us but...

Although in theory we are still taking on new clients, we have an extremely large backlog of reading in addition to our current workload and therefore responses are taking around four months. If you are prepared to wait this long and would like to send us your material, keeping in mind that at the end I might still say "not for me", we would be happy to take a look.

Please send us a copy of your work, together with return postage which is essential should you wish the material returned. It would also be helpful to know a little more about yourself, your past and future writing plans and who else you have submitted this work to; please note we do not like to consider work under mass submission.

We look forward to hearing from you and in any event, thank you for thinking of us.

This sounds like a standard response letter to me, at best it may be a slight nibble, nothing to get to excited about. In my query letter i asked if they would like to see the MS, not a partial. What do i do!?!?
Any and all advice is much appreciated.



09-15-2005, 02:28 PM
Hi Daniel,

that letter is most ambiguous!
I've been submitting to British agents too, for the last few months, five at a time. I've sent two batches up to now. I've never had a response such as yours. A (very) few have never replied. Some have said thanks but no thanks.
A couple have asked for the partial.

In the cases where they asked for a partial, they have replied within a month, but the average time was two weeks. Two weeks seems to me quite the norm in the UK. In some cases, I've had responses immediately, asking for the partial or (twice) the full ms. One agent I sent the full to replied in about three weeks (rejection). I've just this week sent it off again and I really don't think she'll keep me waiting for four months.

So I would try other agents. This one seems to be extremely slow compared with other UK agents, and since they "prefer" an exclusive you'll be keeping yourself tied up for months and you'll be chewing your nails, believe me!
When all else fails you can probably still approach this agent; but if I were you I'd try others first.

Good luck and keep in touch!

09-15-2005, 04:10 PM
I agree with Aruna. It sounds very ambiguous and "form letter." Look for another agent, unless this one is someone you REALLY want...but what is "copy of your work"? I'd say either ask for more guidelines, or send them a partial + synopsis and wait, if you really want to get this agent.

09-19-2005, 08:47 PM
I don't for the life of me see how this letter can be read as ambisuous or form. It's plain in what it says and how it says it. It says you'll have to wait several months for a reply, but if you're prepared to do this, send your work. This is as straightforward as a letter can possibly get.

If this is an agent you'd like to have, immediately package your novel and mail it, along with a copy of this letter, and a note saying you don;t mind waiting for a response.

There's nothing at all wrong with giving an agent an exclusive look. This is what most good agent's want, and really, four months is NOT a very long wait.

Many writers go years without receiving a letter such as this. If you like this agent, for God's sake send her your manuscript.

And you only bite nails if you sit around worrying. You keep your nails too short to bite by continuing to type a new novel, instead of worrying about the one you just mailed.

09-19-2005, 09:34 PM
I wouldn't say it's ambiguous, but four months is quite a long time to wait for a UK agent (on a partial, at least - I'd expect to wait longer for a manuscript). Are there any others near the top of your list you can query now? If so, go for them. If not, you might as well send your material on and wait the four months.

09-19-2005, 10:16 PM
I wouldn't say it's ambiguous, but four months is quite a long time to wait for a UK agent (on a partial, at least - I'd expect to wait longer for a manuscript). Are there any others near the top of your list you can query now? If so, go for them. If not, you might as well send your material on and wait the four months.

Four months is a long time to wait for a rejection. . .most rejections come in a few weeks, but four months is not a long time to wait for an acceptance, UK or US.

And four months is still only four months, no matter where you live. UK, US, or Zimbabwe, four months is just not very long. Look at the four months behind you. How fast did they go? You can waste a heck of a lot more than four months just looking for another agent who asks to see anything.

Cathy C
09-19-2005, 10:19 PM
I agree. Four months is not long at all, in reality. Send it out and start on the next one!

09-19-2005, 11:09 PM
Well, in my experience with UK agents, four months IS a long time. Many of them declare ontheir websites that they try to reply within one month. One of them (Robin Wade) promised to reply within one week - and he did, too.

Unless this was my top choice of agent, I would try other - quicker - ones first.
The ones that take longer simply say "we aren't taking on any new clinets right now, please try again in a few months if you are still interested" or something along those lines (I got two such letters).

If this WAS my top choice, I would send it in now and wait.

If it was just a name out of several, I'd wait and see how the others react. The trouble is, here in the UK you can't really find out much about the agents, they don't tell you much about themselves on their websites. I've been querying US agents (last week) and they are far easier to research. Many of them tell you exactly what kinds of books they like; you can find interviews with them. Not so in the UK. Here, they usually are just names on a list; you can tell by their authors what kind of thing they might like but sometimes you haven't even heard of the authors. I found it very frustrating. In one case (with a big aency) I picked a name because it was Indian; another was from South Africa, so I picked her (hoping that they might like my subject matter!)

One agent was recommended by an author friend and he was the first I queried; he actually called me with a week to reject me and had a long chat wiht me, giving me some advice. That was very nice; but turns out he likes highly commercial, fast- paced thrillers and I wasn't for him.

My latest top-choice is simply a name I picked off a list.

09-21-2005, 01:27 PM
Thank you, any and all advice much appreciated!

Not sure about whether or not i've got a preferred choice for an agent, as aruna says, its pretty hard to get in depth info about particular agents, and they generally look as good as each other on the hallowed pages of W & A yearbook.

I took the weekend to think it over, and took the opportunity for one last read through and edited out another 30,000 words to improve the pacing, and focus on the main story. And a couple other agents want partials, so i sent them off yesterday, and im about to go post the full MS to the agent i quoted above.

Im not one for impatience or nail biting (the second novel is under way) This writing lark is fun, not life or death!