View Full Version : If you have an agent...

12-15-2011, 06:26 PM
...how many full requests did you go through before an agent asked to sign you?

I realize this has no relevance to my own waiting game, but I'm curious anyway. :) Doing anything I can to pass the time...

12-15-2011, 06:45 PM
How many have you had so far?

I think some writers get picked up on the first full, or third or fourth. If the story/novel is really good, they'll get many requests, followed by several offers of representation.

That is what I have noticed on various writing sites I am on. Lots of fulls, followed by lots of offers. (Lots = eight, nine or more.)

But I have also seen one writer get upwards of 20 requests for fulls, then slowly seen each one turn into a rejection. The comments (from agents) were: great idea, poor execution. The fact they asked for a full came from the premise or idea behind the story. But the writing was sort of lackluster, or even poor, so they declined to offer representation.

That person who had 20 requests for fulls was floating on air for a while - until reality hit.

I've had 12 requests for fulls so far; no offers. Maybe I am in that great premise/poor execution boat.

12-15-2011, 07:12 PM
I've had 12 requests for fulls so far; no offers. Maybe I am in that great premise/poor execution boat.

No, if you haven't received consistent feedback about problems, all you can assume about full rejections is that you haven't hit the right desk yet.

I had five or six fulls out (some for months) when my query hit the right desk. Full sent, offer received the next day. That's how you know you've hit the right desk. ;)

I do think that a "hot" premise generates a lot of requests. If the premise is backed by tolerable execution, offers are likely to follow. With a quirkier (less obviously commercial) premise, you're likely to wait longer, but the right desk may still be out there. You won't know until you've launched yourself onto them all.

12-15-2011, 07:14 PM
Over a period of nine months I had three requests for fulls (out of about 20 queries), then signed. Unfortunately, that book never sold. Now, four years later, I'm looking for a new agent w/ a new ms. and have sent 30 queries out. Several requests for partials but no requests for fulls yet, and it's been six months.

Everyone's experience differs.

Mr Flibble
12-15-2011, 07:15 PM
On the particular MS that got me an agent - he was the first agent I queried. Other MSs that didn't get me picked up, er, 4 I think.

But it's going to vary HUGELY I should think

12-15-2011, 07:35 PM
I had one full request and one partial request before I signed with my agent. It took a little under a month from sending my first query letter to signing with my agent.

The weird thing was that after signing, I had 4 or 5 other requests for fulls from agents I had queried. (I withdrew the queries as soon as I accepted his offer, but the emails must have crossed.)

12-15-2011, 07:36 PM
...how many full requests did you go through before an agent asked to sign you?

I realize this has no relevance to my own waiting game, but I'm curious anyway. :) Doing anything I can to pass the time...

OK, you're absolutely right that this has no relevance, because each writer's situation is individual. And my own in particular is atypical. But fwiw...

Three requests for fulls. More or less. Here's how it all went down.

I'm writing what might euphemistically be called a big book, and it's still not finished, though I'm getting close. Some while back, when it was even less finished, I was at a writer's conference where a friend of mine met with an agent. The agent turned her down but said she was looking for a certain kind of book, and my friend said, "I happen to know someone who is writing that sort of book..."

So the agent passed along a request that I query her, which I did. She asked for a partial, which I sent, with the explanation that the story was not yet finished. She ended up passing the partial to another agent in the agency, who requested a full.

That was the first one. However, I never sent it because she wanted to wait until it was finished.

Later, a very smart and successful published friend suggested I break the book into volumes and start querying the first volume. In fact, I could start with her agent, with no need to query at all because she would offer an introduction. So I sent him what I imagined would be the first volume. I'm not sure whether that counts as a full manuscript request or not, since he ended up asking for a synopsis of the rest, but I'll call that request number two.

He ended up turning it down. Praised the writing but didn't get the way the story was structured and wanted a different character to be protagonist. Strongly intimated that if I were willing to rewrite, he'd reconsider.

I waffled (well, agonized) over this, but in the end, decided to buckle down and finish what would probably be the third volume (think Lord of the Rings: One story sliced into thirds), and then figure out what to do with it. One day I was discussing the situation with another writer friend, whose first book was about to debut. He said, "Send it to my agent. He will love it." He proceeded to give his agent the sales talk of the century about my novel and the agent said, "Send me everything you have so far. Can't wait to read it."

Oh boy, I thought, nothing like pressure, how can it possibly live up to whatever my friend told him...but I emailed him the huge but still unfinished manuscript and told myself to put it out of my head, because there was no way he was going to like it anyway. I had actually met this agent, years earlier, and based on some generalized comments he made then, I was pretty sure what I was writing wouldn't appeal to him.

I sent him the full on a Friday. On the following Monday afternoon he called. He had read the entire thing in one weekend and was wildly enthusiastic. You could have knocked me over with the proverbial feather.

So that's how I got my agent. At the moment, he's (very patiently) waiting for me to finish the final section, and then it goes on submission. We'll see what happens then. One step at a time.

Like I told you--atypical. :) The odds of someone signing an agent on the basis of an unfinished manuscript are pretty miniscule, and probably not one agent in a hundred (or more) would even consider it. But--it happened to me, and it happened to another friend of mine (the one I mentioned first, whose agent turned me down), who went on to become a huge bestselling author.

For every story like this, though, you'll hear dozens about someone who queried and was rejected by fifty or a hundred agents before finding representation and success.

Really, it's all about patience and persistence and finding the right match.

Good luck! :)

Drachen Jager
12-15-2011, 08:00 PM
My first MS went through 6 or 7 fulls, no dice. Second MS had 3 or 4 full requests where nothing happened, then I had 4 requested in a short period, one of them turned into an offer.

12-15-2011, 08:21 PM
My two partials and one full were rejected for the same general reasons they were praised: great worldbuilding and characters, but the story was considered too confusing. It was a Very Large Book, sort of a cross between Cameron's AVATAR and Jacqueline Carey's 'Kushiel' series. The damned thing even won minor awards in some pretty big contests. I've trunked it, and I'm figuring out ways to split it and spoonfeed more explanation into the action.

Since I'm working on projects in other genres right now, any agent I consider would have to be willing to rep both mainstream sf&f and erotic romance. Not a big overlap, at least in reputable agents.

12-15-2011, 11:34 PM
I think I had fourteen or fifteen fulls for the book that got an agent. I'd have to pull out my lists and see again, but it was quite a few. Nine requests total on the one before that, but they were a different sort of fulls.

The first time I sent queries most of the fulls came from people with high request rates or people who requested fulls from queries. I didn't include sample pages with most of my queries and I think that made a huge difference. The second time around I was getting requests from the agents who were really high up on my list and who I never realistically had thought I had a chance with.

My feedback was also vastly different. The first time I got a lot of form rejections on fulls (or unhelpful rejections). The second time I got a lot more feedback and more personalized comments and positive comments (ie, "Please send me your next work").

12-16-2011, 06:47 AM
Three or four.

Momento Mori
12-16-2011, 02:13 PM
None. My agent signed me on the partial and a meeting. (Saying that, I had 4 other agents turn me down on a partial and 2 agents offered to take a look at the full when it was ready).


12-16-2011, 06:51 PM
I write non-fiction, so my horse is of a slightly different color. I queried 30 agents, got requests for my proposal (which is the non-fiction equivalent of a full) from 13, and offers of representation from six or seven of those 13.

Jess Haines
12-17-2011, 12:53 AM
I had a scam publishing agency ask for a full. Does that count? :P

The first (legit) agent who asked for a full is the one I have today. ;)

Jaden Terrell
12-19-2011, 06:40 AM
The first agent I sent my MS to signed me. He passed away before he could sell it, and I got another agent pretty quickly. He shopped it around but for various reasons got no takers. He was retiring, so for my second book, I needed a new agent. I sent a number of queries, but only four full manuscripts. Jill Marr of the Dijkstra Agency was the fourth agent to read the whole thing. She sold it two months after I signed the contract with her.

12-19-2011, 07:34 AM
Thanks so much for the info, guys. I've only had one full request at this point (as well as a few partials). Honestly, I sort of wanted to remind myself not to get my hopes up on this full -- I know it's likely the work will go through several agents before finding the right one (if it does). But, you never know; maybe this will be the agent who is right for my work, maybe not.

Perspective. It can be a challenge. :)