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billz015
12-09-2005, 07:35 AM
A few months ago I sent a manuscript to some agents. I never recieved a reply from either and I'm curious should I continue patiently waiting for a reply, or should I forget about them and continue sending queries and such out?

So I don't have to start another topic about it:

I sent the manuscript mentioned above to some publishing houses(2 of which replied with rejection), and I'm curious which route I should pursue more agents or publishing houses?

Any bit of help with these two matters would be highly appreciated.

CrazyWriter
12-10-2005, 06:06 AM
Generally agents will respond between 8-10 weeks. If you've not heard back, move on. Actually, unless they ask that they be the only one you submit to, move on anyway! It's a tough market, and while you shouldn't send out too many queries at once, don't send out too few either. Also, make sure you follow the particular agent's submission guidelines! Many agents have specific ways they like to be contacted, and if you don't want to take the time to learn about them, they aren't likely to give you the time youíd like.



There are MANY schools of thought as to whether you need an agent or not to break into the business. Unless you've got a marketing background and are familiar with publishing houses, I would go the agent route. Not only will they do the selling for you, but they'll also have some fantastic suggestions as to how to improve what you've got--at least the really good ones will--so publishers will give it more of a shot.



I hope things work out!

Julie Worth
12-10-2005, 09:41 PM
I assume you mean the full ms, manuscripts that were solicited? If so, the agents should respond in 1 to 6 months, with some going a lot longer. Sadly, not all of them will respond. If theyíve requested the ms, the least they could do is stick a form rejection in your envelope. But some donít bother. Which is terribly rude, donít you think? One day Iím going to get in my car, drive around the country and find those people. I'll ask them why theyíre so rude. Could be a best seller, like Blue Highways.

As to your second question, don't give up on agents until you have 200 rejections. Then start on the publishers. Most of the publishers will respond, which is good. The bad thing is that most of them will send your stuff back unread, with a form letter saying to get an agent first.

Andrew Zack
12-10-2005, 10:00 PM
I'd say 8-10 weeks is optimistic. Maybe there are some agencies who have readers who can respond that fast, but I suspect most take longer.

You should always get an agent first. Why? Because:

(1) Most publishers require submissions to come through agents. They are using agents as filters. Presumably if you found an agent, your work doesn't TOTALLY suck.

(2) Most authors have no idea what anything in a publishing contract means and they don't know what they can and cannot negotiate. A publisher's contract is a starting point. A good agent can find you a finish that's far more profitable over the long run.

As for whether or not agents are rude for not responding, I feel there's this crazy impression that agencies are these paragons of efficiency, well-oiled machines where material comes in and gets logged, then sent for review, etc. That the money flows like water from the faucet to pay for these things. You are sorely mistaken. Most agents are operating on their own, or with a partner, or with a support person or two. Many are working from home offices. They have lives, wives, husbands, children, just like you. Do you do YOUR job with 100% efficiency? Do you never drop the ball, let something slide, lose something between the cracks? If so, I'd like to get you to write a book on how you do that.

What's funny is that if agents COULD charge reading fees without being hammered as scammers and unethical, I bet you'd see a massive increase in turnaround time. Colleges charge application fees. My co-op charges an application fee if you want to buy an apartment here. Cell phone companies charge set-up fees. CompUSA will charge you to give you an estimate of the cost of repairing your computer. If I could charge the $90 that colleges charge for applications for every sample chapter I receive, I could hire an assistant whose sole job would be to deal with the mail, which would give me far more time to work with my clients on their projects.

Alas, if I tried that, I'd be virtually--if not literally--tarred and feathered, so I don't. But you have to wonder if all of the incredible expectations that authors seem to have of agents isn't hurting them as much as helping.

Best,
Andy

Julie Worth
12-10-2005, 10:09 PM
<Checking my list of non-responders> Nope, Andy's not on it.

waylander
12-10-2005, 10:22 PM
IF the submissions were requested full manuscripts then I think that after 3 months you should get in touch with the agents politely asking what the current status of the manuscript is. If the submissions were unsolicited partials then move on.

billz015
12-11-2005, 10:20 AM
Thaks for the responses, thus far I've only sent queries so it's no major loss.

aruna
12-11-2005, 03:44 PM
(1) Most publishers require submissions to come through agents. They are using agents as filters. Presumably if you found an agent, your work doesn't TOTALLY suck.



So, if you haven't found an agent, your work sucks?

Two incidents where I found agents were lacking in basic courtesy:

I had several requests for a full manuscript, which was already being read, exclusively, by one agent. One of the requesting agents suggested that I give the agent who had the full one week to make a decision, and give her the manuscript next, on an exclusive basis; she promised to read it in a few days. I did that, but I gave her three weeks, as I knew that the Frankfurt Book Fair was coming up and she'd be busy. At the end of those three weeks I still hadn't heard, and so enquired, politely. She said she hadn't had time to read it yet and needed more time; meanwhile, she accepted that she coulod no longer have exclusivity. I do think if you make a promise you should try and keep it; or at least contact the other person yourself to explain the delay.

This agent was not my first choice; I'd only sent it to her because of the promise of "a few days". So, what do I do? Withdraw it? No. I sent it out to the others who had requested it, none of whom had asked for exclusivity; I told them the situation, and went ahead to query others.
One other agent is interested; but as she wants an exclusive read, I have to wait till all of these who now have it have made a decision before I can send it to her.

One agent asked for the full manuscript; I sent it to the agency and a few days later I got a form letter saying that they had read it "with interest" but it didn't fit their needs at the moment. That ws patently untrue; the ms had been solicited but nobody took the time to check that.

That said, I have to say that many have been courteous, sending me emails to say they have received the ms. I appreciated that.

Nobody likes to have their time wasted. Our time is also important, to us; we also have lives to live, and families to support. During the process of looking for an agent an author is in the position of a supplicant; but that is no reason to treat him/her with discourtesy. Because that same author, at a later stage in the game, could be the agent's bread and butter.

Andrew Zack
12-12-2005, 02:00 AM
No, I didn't say if you haven't found an agent, your work sucks. However, I'm sure many an editor thinks many of the projects that hit their desks from agents suck. Thus publishing houses see agents as filters and push authors to use agents for that reason. Another reason, though, is that publishing houses may, over the long run, find it easier to deal with an agent who is knowledgeable regarding the business than with an author who is clueless. I've had plenty of editors call me up and ask me to stop an author from calling so often. Of course, the author is calling because the editor isn't communicating with them, but in a buyers' marketplace, the editor gets to call the shots most of the time.

SRHowen
12-12-2005, 02:27 AM
One agent asked for the full manuscript; I sent it to the agency and a few days later I got a form letter saying that they had read it "with interest" but it didn't fit their needs at the moment. That ws patently untrue; the ms had been solicited but nobody took the time to check that.

I don't quite get this--they asked for it then sent you a rejection, how is the rejection untrue, you figure that it is untrue that it doesn't fit their needs since they asked for it? Or how do you get that they didn't check to see if it was solicited?

Always send things that have been requested with requested material on the outside and on the first page of the ms. And many times something will be requested based on the query or sample chapters, then rejected after the whole is read because it didn't live up to the expectation. You can't expect a personal response to anything requested or not. And you can't have it both ways--you want quick, but when you get quick in the form of a form letter then you say it is rude.

Most agents try to get to you when they say they will, no one puts it off just to be rude. I may be lucky, most agents I dealt with while looking for one were quick, polite, and responded within the time they said. A few were down right nasty--but taking a long time was not what made them so.

I've known a few writers who were given the run around for months, even years---personally, I think the agent should just pass if they can't get to something within a yearís time, that's a bit long. But . . .

We writers need to know as well that the process takes time, and even after you sign with an agent the process takes time--sometimes a long time.

What would speed it up? I don't know. I could say that if every person who owned a computer wasnít' trying to get rich by writing a book there might be more time for agents to read as there would be fewer submissions. I don't think fees are a way to do it--too many fraud agents use fees as their only income, a case of some making it a bad idea for those who are honest to do it.

Send your queries and then get on to the next project, and try not to think about the ones you have out there until deadlines have come and gone. Then move on.

Shawn

aruna
12-12-2005, 10:27 AM
I don't quite get this--they asked for it then sent you a rejection, how is the rejection untrue, you figure that it is untrue that it doesn't fit their needs since they asked for it? Or how do you get that they didn't check to see if it was solicited?



I sent the ms personalised, with a cover letter, to the agent who had requested it, which made it clear that it was solicited to whoever opened the parcel. The response I got was a form letter from the agency, and it came so quickly I know the manuscript had not been read; can't you tell? I can! In the two cases where my full manuscript has been read and rejected, there was a personal letter included.

In this case it was a quick brush off, almost by return of post. It was treated as an unsolicited ms. And even if she had read it overnight: I know I can't expect a personal comment ; but I do expect some kind of intimation that the agent I sent it to read it herself - that is, signed by that agent, by name, and not simply by the secretary or whoever. That, I'd say, is common courtesy, and if she HAD read the whole ms, can be expected.

(The "patently untrue" bit I said did not refer to the ms not fitting their needs but to the statement that they had "read it with interest". I just don't believe that.)


Most agents try to get to you when they say they will, no one puts it off just to be rude.

But in this case, the agent had asked me to take certain measures (ie, give the agent who was reading it a deadline of a week) that involved a risk for me. What if the first agent was just about to read it, and was cut short - and offended - by such a deadline? Yes, it was a risk for me - particulary as the first agent would have been preferable to this one requesting it.

She asked me to do this, and give her an exclusive next-read, and promised a very quick read - days. I gave her three weeks. I think it wouldn't have cost her much just to send off a quick email with a "sorry I couldn't keep the deadline I promised." Instead, I had to chase up on it.

If I can't keep a promised deadline for any reason I always get back to the other, unasked, and apologize. Even in little things.

Perhaps it's wishful thinking to desire common courtesy. I believe in it for it's own sake, but even for selfish reasons it's not a bad idea. Who knows what business deals you may miss if word gets around that you are rude.


We writers need to know as well that the process takes time, and even after you sign with an agent the process takes time--sometimes a long time.
I know. I've had an agent.

aruna
12-12-2005, 10:50 AM
No, I didn't say if you haven't found an agent, your work sucks. However, I'm sure many an editor thinks many of the projects that hit their desks from agents suck. Thus publishing houses see agents as filters and push authors to use agents for that reason. Another reason, though, is that publishing houses may, over the long run, find it easier to deal with an agent who is knowledgeable regarding the business than with an author who is clueless. I've had plenty of editors call me up and ask me to stop an author from calling so often. Of course, the author is calling because the editor isn't communicating with them, but in a buyers' marketplace, the editor gets to call the shots most of the time.

At this stage I find agents a bulwark I'd rather do without. If I do get an offer from the editor reading my ms I'll probably go it alone.

popmuze
12-12-2005, 06:57 PM
Here's an agent/writer scenario I haven't seen yet.
Earlier this year I got the president of the major publishing company that put out my most recent book to recommend me to an agent. I flipped that email to the agent with a query about my novel. Within minutes the agent responded that he'd love to see it, but needed an exclusive. I agreed and sent the ms.
That was ten months ago! After several email follow ups and even a phone call, which all went unreturned, I have come to the conclusion I will never get a response from this agent.
Months and months ago I started sending queries around again. But my question is, wouldn't you think a recommendation guaranteed a yes or a no, rather than a no answer? Especially after asking for an exclusive? Or would it be wise to just start over again with this agent, in case the manuscript got lost somewhere?
On the other hand, should I find representation, do I owe this agent a note saying not to bother responding?????

Andrew Zack
12-12-2005, 07:10 PM
I believe it's always in your best interest to let an agent know if you found representation elsewhere. Keeping the lines of communication clear is always a good idea.

As for this agent's response, I admit it seems strange. Then again, I don't know who this president was, did he read your book, or just give you a name. I learned long ago that only those recommendations from folks who have read the book really count. Otherwise it's just someone being polite and giving you a name.

Best,
Andy

popmuze
12-12-2005, 07:41 PM
It was someone being polite I suppose, who had not read any of the novel, but had definitely read my previous book (and published it). Still, I would have thought that warranted at least a "not interested" especially after requesting an exclusive.

Do you think it's worth starting all over again, on the odd chance the manuscript either never got there, or somehow fell through the cracks (especially since it's now completely rewritten)?

Andrew Zack
12-12-2005, 08:14 PM
I think if it's completely rewritten, it may be worth sending along a letter, reminding the agent of the story, and seeing what the response is.

Are you 100% sure the agent got the ms the first time around? Could it have just not reached him?

SpookyWriter
12-12-2005, 09:28 PM
What's funny is that if agents COULD charge reading fees without being hammered as scammers and unethical, I bet you'd see a massive increase in turnaround time.
I am not sure if it's funny or not, but one problem with this idea is implementation. Sure, I would be more than happy to pay an agent a reasonable fee to read my material and provide constructive feedback. But the opportunity for abuse outweighs the initial benefits because how do we monitor this activity? How do we know an agent wouldn't just hire a college student (or hack) that had little or no training or skills in assessing the validity of a writers work? How would anyone know that the agent isn't living off the reading fees and not promoting or selling any work?

I agree with Andy to a point, but it's just too easy for bad agents to take advantage of the income opportunities and not perform the role of writer advocate.

So we lose efficiency but maintain integrity. Which is more important?

Jon

Andrew Zack
12-12-2005, 09:38 PM
I think that agents with integrity would prove themselves by having a client list of published authors and successful sales. The scammers would not have such a list and thus it would be obvious where their priorities lay.

As for the readers...well, if you consider that any reader's opinion is valid to a certain degree, and that many readers for agents now are college interns or recent graduates, I'm not sure there would be a big difference from the current situation. As for constructive feedback, I'm not suggesting that would necessarily be offered, though perhaps a copy of whatever reader's report is written might be provided. But a college doesn't send you constructive feedback on your application. They just let you know if you got in or not. Why would an application fee for an agent be any different?

I'm playing Devil's Advocate here, of course.

Best,
Andy

vipersmile
12-12-2005, 09:53 PM
Now I'm presenting this question as I was told to present it. ( Sorry by the way)

I wrote a horror novel last year that sold 8000 of 10000 copies in it's available print run. I've conducted many signings. It seems however the novel's popularity has not broken into the rest of the world. I don't know if the following is perhaps a marketing question or Agent. I do not have an agent. I am curious if my concerns and your answers direct me into the right path.

Do I need an agent, considering my next novel will either sell as many, more or hopefully not less than my first?

Also, regarding querieing, is it viable to acknowledge my andectotal expirience in this modicum of success with an agent?


Obviously I'm not Stephen King, but rather an interesting second question is, is the horror market wanting a second Stephen King? Is the horror market booming at all? At least in the literary world?

Thank you

Eric-

SpookyWriter
12-12-2005, 09:58 PM
Andy,

I hear what you're saying, and I am not against the idea. But as I said before, it is implementation along with oversight that would hurt the credibility of any agent who seeks a reading fee.

I remember the Woodside fiasco from years ago and stood by while my buddy Jack Mingo and a few others were castrated by an agency gone wild.

My background also includes a four year stint as an internal auditor for the Arizona Board of Regents. I can say for certain that there are regulatory laws that govern what a university can and cannot do concerning fees and tuition. I donít think your analogy is quite the same. The independent review of each university was conducted by internal auditors and the Attorney Generals office to ensure compliance with state and federal laws. What body of law or scrutiny would an agent fall under? Self-regulation? Doesnít work. Never has and I can site too many instances of fee based agencies abusing the trust of writers.

The pros for this idea is that writers who arenít serious enough to commit their own funds for an initial reading will reduce the amount of time I or others wait to hear back from an agent.

I am sure there are some upsides to the argument, as there are downsides, so what is the solution?

Jon

LloydBrown
12-12-2005, 10:06 PM
One agent asked for the full manuscript; I sent it to the agency and a few days later I got a form letter saying that they had read it "with interest" but it didn't fit their needs at the moment. That ws patently untrue; the ms had been solicited but nobody took the time to check that.


I've had this happen before, and I didn't understand it, either. At the time, I was about 21 and new to writing.

There's a huge difference between a paragraph description and a full manuscript. Asking for a ms doesn't necessarily mean that the topic is something they need. It means it *could* be something they want, depending on the exact execution (I've also been solicited by one editor and rejected by another, but I'm assuming you addressed your submission to the person who asked for it).

aruna
12-12-2005, 10:32 PM
I've had this happen before, and I didn't understand it, either. At the time, I was about 21 and new to writing.

There's a huge difference between a paragraph description and a full manuscript. Asking for a ms doesn't necessarily mean that the topic is something they need. It means it *could* be something they want, depending on the exact execution (I've also been solicited by one editor and rejected by another, but I'm assuming you addressed your submission to the person who asked for it).
I expressed myself badly there. I accept that it could be something they do not need; but I do not believe they had read it in that short a time, I believe they just rejected it as "unsolicited".

Julie Worth
12-12-2005, 10:43 PM
I expressed myself badly there. I accept that it could be something they do not need; but I do not believe they had read it in that short a time, I believe they just rejected it as "unsolicited".

Which is why I always put "requested material" on the package, and mention the exact circumstances of the request in my cover letter.

SRHowen
12-13-2005, 01:13 AM
Did the agency in question request a partial, that they then requested a full from? Or was this the first time (when they recived the full) that they saw part of or all of the ms? Again, sometimes a query glows and as an editor you think--WOW,I want to see this. (I assume it is the same for an agent) Then you get the partial, those first 3 chapters are great--outstanding, so you ask for the complete--only to discover that chapter 4 is not as polished as the first 3, or that chapter 4 shows you that the story is not what you want. So you pass.

Why should we expect a personal response? The agent or editor gains nothing by giving you one. They don't work for you, or you them. At that point it is only a proposition for a partnership that will earn both parites some money if successful.

Agents and editors get tons of them each and every day--

Given the number of agents and editors that either don't respond or take months to do so--a writer should be glad they got a quick response so they can move on instead of sitting and waiting to hear something.

That agent may have read some of it and said oh boy, this is not for us--better send them a quick response so they can find the right agent for this--

And the quickest response is a form letter.

I've gotten form letters that said things like, you submission may have not fit within our guidlines, or it may have etc etc--generic, but at least they responded.

Shawn

aruna
12-13-2005, 03:16 PM
Shawn,
OK, let me start again.
The thing is, the English ARE polite. Very polite. Even between strangers, and potential business partners. In my dealings with agents and editors up to now, I;ve never had an unsigned letter from a specific agent/editor, in a response to a specific query, much less in response to a partial ms, or, more so, a full. In my experience they do consider a full ms, even if they do reject it, worthy of a personal comment. In that light, an unsigned form rejection for a requested full manuscript does stand out as highly unusual.

So I can only come to two conclusions:

She had it in her hands, speed-read it (158 000 words!) in a day or two or read the first couple pages, and hated it so much she felt nothing but deepest contempt for the author, and so replied with a curt brush off, and not even a word to mention the content. By English standards, this is certainly rude.

By some kind of office mix-up or misunderstanding, she never held it in her hands. Some junior at the agency thought it was an unsolicited ms and sent the form letter, which said they had read it "with interest", which was just not true. If they don't accept unsolicited mss then they should say so; had they done so I'd have had the chance to explain the situation. I hate this kind of ego-stroking!

It's not a big deal; just puzzling, and I wish I knew what really happened. That's all.

waylander
12-13-2005, 04:53 PM
Under these circumstances I would have called the agent and asked about it.
It has been my experience with most UK agents that you can call them and, as Aruna says, they are polite and pleasant to do business with.
I agree with your assessment Aruna - the manuscript never reached the agent who requested it.

popmuze
12-13-2005, 06:05 PM
Aruna,
Something like this happened to me once when I was on assignment for Cosmopolitan magazine! I sent the finished article in to my assigning editor, and then received a form rejection saying they don't accept unsolicited articles.
Luckily I made a phone call and straightened it out. Of course, when the article appeared, true to Cosmo form, it was entirely rewritten anyway.
I agree with Waylander. You should phone the offending agent--it might have been a mistake.

aruna
12-14-2005, 10:20 AM
Yes, that's what I think too. I'm going to wait and see the results of the current submissions, and contact them again later on if that doesn't work out.