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Chiquita Banana
05-13-2011, 01:30 PM
I've had my first 10 chapters at an agency since March and I called yesterday to verify that they had an exclusive. (They requested an exclusive on the first 3, but didn't say anything about the others.)

I didn't get to speak to the woman I've been dealing with but she sent an email back saying yes they usually do ask for exclusives, but she acknowledged the fact that they've had mine for a while. She went on to tell me that she's trying to think of how to market it and biding her time until publishers want chick lit again. Then she said if I want to submit to other agencies I should let them know and they'll give me a "final verdict one way or another".

This agency is a really good one, very reputable. So I'm not sure I should bother with trying other agencies. If publishers aren't buying chick lit from this agency, I don't imagine they'd be buying it from others. I emailed back to thank her for her help so far and that I'm inclined to hang tight and wait it out, but I'd like to ponder the situation a little.

What do you folks think?

taylormillgirl
05-13-2011, 02:57 PM
So, basically you've frozen the query process and given an exclusive on a partial request? No bueno, I say.

Keep querying and submitting. All your eggs are in one basket, and the agent doesn't seem too enthusiastic about the project. Many of the markets are saturated. My agent tells me YA is totally deluged right now, but look at the last 20 offers of representation on querytracker...nearly all of them are YA manuscripts.

Good luck to you!

ETA for clarity: Let the other agent know before moving ahead, as she requested. I'm guessing this "nudge" will lead to a rejection, but honestly, you want an agent who loves your work, not someone who just sits on it for an indeterminate amount of time.

gothicangel
05-13-2011, 03:18 PM
So, basically you've frozen the query process and given an exclusive on a partial request? No bueno, I say.

Keep querying and submitting. All your eggs are in one basket, and the agent doesn't seem too enthusiastic about the project. Many of the markets are saturated. My agent tells me YA is totally deluged right now, but look at the last 20 offers of representation on querytracker...nearly all of them are YA manuscripts.

Good luck to you!

No, that is the height of unprofessional behaviour.

OP: How long is the exclusive period? If it's three months then it is almost up anyway. The agen has given you a choice: either stick to the exclusivity, or tell them you want to submit and risk receive getting the short shrift.

Personally, they seem to like the book but are struggling how to approach publishers with it. It will be a problem you'll face with every other agent. They will only represent what they can sell [remember they live on commission too.]

If it was me, I would stick with this agent until they have made their decision. The obviously love the book.

shaldna
05-13-2011, 04:00 PM
She went on to tell me that she's trying to think of how to market it and biding her time until publishers want chick lit again. Then she said if I want to submit to other agencies I should let them know and they'll give me a "final verdict one way or another".




She's 'biding her time' until publishers want Chick lit again? I wasn't aware that publishers didn't want chick lit anymore.

What was she planning on doing? Sitting on the MS until the market picks up enough for her to make a decision on it? Honestly, that doesn't sound good, and the fact that she will only give you a final verdict if you choose to start querying other agents is a bad sign. If she really wanted your book and thougth it was something she could market then she would sign it. This 'wait and see' attitude is quite unprofessional.

At the end of the day only you can decide what's right for you. But I personally would be unhappy and uncomfortable waiting indefinately in the hope that an agent might decide she wants it if the market picks up.

taylormillgirl
05-13-2011, 04:33 PM
No, that is the height of unprofessional behaviour.



Obviously, I didn't mean forge ahead without notifying the agent first. The agent in question openly offered to give the OP an answer one way or the other, thus allowing OP to move on.

aekap
05-13-2011, 04:46 PM
Was this an open-ended exclusive? When you arranged this, wasn't there an agreed-upon timeframe? Usually exclusives are only granted for a few weeks, a month at most.

Chiquita Banana
05-13-2011, 05:08 PM
Thanks for the responses everyone. Regarding the exclusive, there wasn't a time frame. I think she's saying it's basically up if I want it to be, but she does seem to like it (and this would be a top-rate choice as far as agencies go) and she seems to think she could do something with it in the future. I'm really not sure what to do.

I've queried about 7 or 8 other agencies on this and got rejections. I got a rejection from these people initially (they were the first ones I approached) but they sent a detailed rejection letter saying they loved the concept but pointing out the problems they had with it. After these 7 or 8 rejections (and many revisions) I resubmitted to them, thanking them for the critique which resulted in them asking for more chapters and leading me to this situation today.

Wish I knew what was happening with the chick lit market. Interesting that she used that term!

Bushrat
05-13-2011, 05:38 PM
If it was me, I'd try other agencies again. You said that you've made a lot of revisions since getting the rejections.

I queried a manuscript for a small niche market in the last month and got four rejections because the agencies thought they couldn't find a publisher for my book (similar to what this agency is telling you, although they're giving you a different reason). Then I had an enthusiastic response from an agent who thought the ms was amazing and who wanted to try to place it, although the number of publishers in this niche market is pretty small.

So I'd think that even if this really good agency tells you that the chick lit market is saturated, you may find another agency with maybe different contacts or more enthusiastic about your ms. The one thing that's for sure is that your ms won't go anywhere by sitting around on an agent's hard drive :)

PinkAmy
05-13-2011, 06:27 PM
In the future, I guess you know to ask how long an agent wants the exclusive so you can have a beginning or ending time :).

March might seem like a long time, but they say not to nudge before 3 months....except the agent has your MS as an exclusive. IMHO, having to wait that long on an exclusive is a burden. Decide how long you will wait and then email (don't call) the agent to say that since you haven't heard you're going to begin re-querying on ____ date (give her a week or so.), realizing that you've probably lost your chance with that agent. You're being communicative and professional if you do so.
If your MS is that good, someone else will love it. If it's not that good, she would have probably rejected anyway and you're waited for nothing.
If you REALLY want the agent, I'd wait the three months. You're in a marathon to be published, not a sprint.

Phaeal
05-13-2011, 09:57 PM
I don't think you're in the usual exclusive situation. The agent seems to be telling you she likes the MS but isn't ready to commit. Pretty ironic that the MS is chick lit, as commitmentophobia is so often a trope in this genre. ;)

Well, what advice do the columnists always give someone whose boyfriend claims to love her but won't marry her? If you enjoy the guy's company enough to stay with him without promises, then stay with him. If you really want to get married, you may have to look elsewhere.

Chiquita Banana
05-13-2011, 10:19 PM
Hehe. Nice parallel, Phael. Made me smile.

I actually spoke to a woman I know in the biz today and she told me to definitely hold out - that these guys are so top-rate that I shouldn't rock the boat, also that if they don't think they could sell it at the moment, no one else could either.

Pink Amy, I didn't cross any lines by calling instead of emailing - we've been in contact over the past few months, sometimes by phone. So that's fine.

Hopefully Mills and Boon will want my romance! (Submitted about 3 weeks ago, no agent needed.) If I got a contract with them, that could help. Even though chick lit and category romance are two very different beasts. Anyway, fingers crossed.

Thanks all for the input, though, which I appreciate even though I'm not following the advice that most of you offered. :)

scope
05-13-2011, 10:42 PM
I actually spoke to a woman I know in the biz today and she told me to definitely hold out - that these guys are so top-rate that I shouldn't rock the boat, also that if they don't think they could sell it at the moment, no one else could either.

:)

I don't think this is accurate. There could be many reasons why they haven't sold--or for all you know--haven't aggresiey tried to sell your manuscript. I realize there are diffences of opinion when it comes to giving exclusives. Me, I don't believe in them, but if one is to give an exclusive I don't think it should be for more than 4 weeks.

In this case, what to do is of course your decision. However, since your asked for our opinions, mine is that you should contact the agent and politely tell her you can't be tied up "forever". That you would really like to be represented by her and that you will continue the exclusive for another 4 weeks, after which you owe it to yourself to contact other agencies.

IceCreamEmpress
05-14-2011, 06:40 PM
I like scope's suggestion; it both reaffirms to them that they're your top choice, and keeps you from being tied into this exclusive forever.

There is a bust in chick-lit acquisition right now, but I know people who are selling new books in the genre. Another agent might have some different ideas; even though this is a top agency, they may not be the right match for this book at this time. Other agencies might have different connections, strategies, and visions.

A good takeaway for the rest of us is that it's important to be specific about time frames when granting exclusives. Open-ended exclusives aren't a great idea, even with your dream agent.

Becca C.
05-15-2011, 12:38 AM
I like scope's ideas a lot. Open-ended exclusives, especially when nothing is really happening on their end, aren't a good idea.

If she's "sitting on it, waiting for the market to pick up," does she intend to sit on it for years, if that's how long it takes for chick lit to come back in vogue? That seems like a weird thing for her to say. And I'm kind of wondering how serious she can be about the manuscript if she still only has a partial. She hasn't even read to the end of the book!

zander
05-15-2011, 07:28 AM
Agreed. She hasn't agreed to even see the full manuscript yet, right? So there's no question of "waiting for the market to improve" because she's not even repping you yet, or even confirmed that she's going to rep you.

It seems like you've given them all the cards. I think you should contact them, say they're your top choice, and set a deadline. If they say no, then they weren't interested in your book in the first place, and you're free to look elsewhere. If they say yes, then you'll know they are serious about the book and you can breathe a little easier. Either way is better than waiting interminably, with an exclusive tied up, not knowing if anyone is even reading it.

thothguard51
05-15-2011, 07:41 AM
Wait a minute, she is sitting on a partial while trying to decide how to approach publishers?

If she likes the sample, I would think she'd request a full before making any decision on representation or approaching publishers. She has to have confidence that she can sell the work, and I would think she needs the full package...

Something does not sound right, but what do I know???

Anne Lyle
05-15-2011, 12:10 PM
Sounds to me like they love your writing but don't want to commit to you as a client because they can't sell this particular book in the foreseeable future. I think you have two choices:

1. Try to get someone - anyone - to represent this book, in which case you might as well pull the exclusive and start submitting it elsewhere.

2. Leave this book with the current agent for the time being, and write something they can sell. You could even ask outright, "if chick lit isn't selling, would you be interested in seeing another manuscript in a slightly different genre?"

You have other irons in the fire with your romances, so it's not like everything is hinging on this one title. Write more, submit more! :)