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sirensix
01-20-2006, 09:12 PM
I could swear I posted this already. In fact, I know I did. Where it went is a mystery.

Anyway, my question:

My book doctor loved the manuscript I sent, emailed a letter to an agent referring me. I then emailed a query myself, mentioning the book doctor in the letter. Less than 24 hours later I got a response from the agent saying she'd love to read the manuscript and to send it via email as an attachment. I did as requested.

So... how long should it take? The agent's world is a little difficult for me to understand. If it had been me, since I got the manuscript on a Friday, and it was a short "chick-lit" piece, I'd probably have read it over the weekend. It's a one-sitting read, light and funny, the kind of prose that entertains rather than demands concentration. But I know I'm supposed to expect weeks or months for the agent to read it.

What exactly is it that takes so long? The starting to read? The deciding how to respond after finishing it? I know the reading won't take long - everyone I've ever sent my manuscript to has pretty much read it all in one sitting, even if that's not what they set out to do.

Should it take longer if it's a negative response than if it's a positive one, or vice versa? In short, if my book was that great, wouldn't she have written me back already?

Just feeling a little down after the excitement of getting her go-ahead, and could use some cold hard facts to put things in perspective.

Julie Worth
01-20-2006, 09:20 PM
So... how long should it take?

In my experience, two weeks to six months (or more). To get to the head of the line, you usually need an offer from a publisher.

clara bow
01-20-2006, 10:48 PM
I could swear I posted this already. In fact, I know I did. Where it went is a mystery.

What exactly is it that takes so long? The starting to read? The deciding how to respond after finishing it? I know the reading won't take long - everyone I've ever sent my manuscript to has pretty much read it all in one sitting, even if that's not what they set out to do.

.

I assume it takes so long because reading submissions is probably only like 1% of what an agent does. I've read that agents have to write proposals and letters and make calls and answer emails from existing clients and other agent-y things throughout the business day. I'm betting they read a lot of submissions after work hours, which means juggling it in between their personal life stuff.

The agent currently reading one of my husband's manuscripts initially said she'd get back to him in about a week and a half. A week and a half later she emailed to say she is still reading. I had thought she was shortchanging herself, anyway. Personally, I'd much rather an agent take her time rather than rush through a manuscript while brushing her teeth and taking out the trash.

sirensix
01-20-2006, 11:25 PM
Okay, so basically what we're looking at is a bunch of manuscripts in line ahead of mine. That makes me feel simultaneously better and worse. Lessens my chances, yet also means that silence doesn't necessarily mean that my mansucript won't make her immediately sit bolt upright in her chair and say, "This is IT!!" and grope for the nearest phone.

*sad smile*

clara bow
01-20-2006, 11:29 PM
Okay, so basically what we're looking at is a bunch of manuscripts in line ahead of mine. That makes me feel simultaneously better and worse. Lessens my chances, yet also means that silence doesn't necessarily mean that my mansucript won't make her immediately sit bolt upright in her chair and say, "This is IT!!" and grope for the nearest phone.

*sad smile*

'tis sad, but true:cry:

Cathy C
01-21-2006, 03:59 AM
I agree with Julie. From two weeks to six months -- minimum. Even our agent takes about a month to read a new manuscript and we're already clients! It has nothing to do with whether they sit down and read the book in one sitting. Hope that they DON'T call right away if that's the case. You want the agent to read the book, then read bits of it a second time, then mull it for a bit and think about the various lines at the publishers and which one it might fit. Then they might call a few good friends who are editors and run the concept past them, wait for the replies and THEN call you back. Agents prefer a sure thing. It's not required, but they definitely PREFER it. The longer it takes with a big name agent, the better your chances are -- especially if you already moved to the top of the pile with an introduction.

(Note: I will just presume that you've already checked out the credentials of the agent that was recommended to you. Correct? If not, take the time to do so while you're waiting for a reply.)

Presuming you have, just relax. Have a glass of wine, a few chocolates and then sit down to work on the next book while you're waiting. The process doesn't get any quicker after you're published, just so you know. Trust me on this. I'm twiddling my fingers as I type (not an easy thing! :ROFL: ) waiting for paperwork on our next deal -- agreed to back in October!

You will learn patience as you grow, grasshopper... ;)

sirensix
01-21-2006, 04:17 AM
Yes, I've already checked credentials and all that. I've tried to shorten the process in any way I can possibly control, and one of those is to take the brief time it takes to do research before even mailing, and make sure that I don't end up sending to people that I wouldn't want representing me (or who wouldn't want to represent my book if it were the best of its kind on earth).

I guess at this point then all I can do is pray that things are closer to the two week mark than the six month mark. If every agent is going to take six months to read it, by the time the thing sells it may be too late :( I was hoping to have my first sale before I have children, and at some point I am going to hit menopause.

Julie Worth
01-21-2006, 05:42 AM
I guess at this point then all I can do is pray that things are closer to the two week mark than the six month mark. If every agent is going to take six months to read it, by the time the thing sells it may be too late :( I was hoping to have my first sale before I have children, and at some point I am going to hit menopause.

It can take a long time. Just remember than copyrights last 60 years after your death, so no rush. (But if you can't wait that long, be sure to keep submitting. It's no sin to have the ms out to several agents at once. That's just the way this business works.)

triceretops
01-21-2006, 05:49 AM
Just remember that agents have a horrendous backlog of potential clients in front of you. She/he will eventually get down the line to you. Make more subs, and continue writing.

Tri

dantem42
01-21-2006, 06:37 AM
Just remember that agents have a horrendous backlog of potential clients in front of you. She/he will eventually get down the line to you. Make more subs, and continue writing.

Tri

This is one good reason for not dismissing requests for exclusive reads out of hand. Generally (though not always), if you grant an exclusive, the agent will respond within the exclusive period or shortly afterward. In the meantime, it's perfectly okay for your manuscript to be out to others on a nonexclusive basis, the only caveat being that if they come back to you with a request to agent you, you have to wait it out until the exclusive is expired before you can agree. I've had pretty good luck granting exclusives and having the ms read within the exclusive period, so I tend to grant them if the agent is very reputable.

sirensix
01-21-2006, 08:24 AM
Wow... that's not at all what I thought "exclusive" meant. I actually prefer doing it that way, if it's considered okay, as in, going ahead and sending it out to other agents on a nonexclusive basis, and then waiting for the "Exclusive" agent to pass before agreeing to sign anything with the others.

Can that be done ethically?

maestrowork
01-21-2006, 08:42 AM
Agents request as soon as the query comes, if something interests them. But it doesn't mean you are at the front of the queue. There is a queue. I'd say if you're lucky, you'll hear a "yes" or a "no" very soon (sooner means either "she REALLY loves it" or "she hates it"). Otherwise, expect a few weeks to a couple of months, depending on how well she manages her "queue."

dantem42
01-22-2006, 08:32 AM
Wow... that's not at all what I thought "exclusive" meant. I actually prefer doing it that way, if it's considered okay, as in, going ahead and sending it out to other agents on a nonexclusive basis, and then waiting for the "Exclusive" agent to pass before agreeing to sign anything with the others.

Can that be done ethically?

My own take is that ethically, your only requirement is to honor the exclusive you give to the agent. To me, this simply means that if they read under the exclusive and then ask to represent you, you have to respond in good faith. It doesn't mean you have to sign with them in the event they do something flaky (such as ask for twenty percent commission etc.), but in general, you should try to reach a fair agreement with them.

I'd say the various ramifications come down to fairness. If I already have out a couple of non-exclusive manuscripts for a month or two, and a top agent asks for an exclusive read period, I think it is okay to give it to them -- there is no telling when these other agents will get back to me, if ever, and they're probably not willing to guarantee me a read date. On the other hand, if I were under an exclusive read period, and I were approached by another agent for a non-exclusive read, I would not send to them until the exclusive is expired.

Julie Worth
01-23-2006, 06:11 PM
Agents request as soon as the query comes, if something interests them. But it doesn't mean you are at the front of the queue. There is a queue. I'd say if you're lucky, you'll hear a "yes" or a "no" very soon (sooner means either "she REALLY loves it" or "she hates it"). Otherwise, expect a few weeks to a couple of months, depending on how well she manages her "queue."

There are actually several queues. Thereís a queue for the query, a queue for the partial, and a queue for the full. If itís the agency policy to require an exclusive, then that exclusive gets you nothing. You still go to the back of the queue, just like all the others who were so foolish as to give it to them.

Jean Marie
01-23-2006, 10:55 PM
I've got an 'if' question. Okay, to remain on a positive note, more like a 'when' question.

When an agent does respond positively to a query, how is that done? I want to be sure I stalk the correct whatever http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/smilies/smile.gif I just sent out another batch of queries on my first novel.

In the interim, I'm working on my 2nd ms to calm the nerves.

clara bow
01-23-2006, 11:37 PM
I think this is the answer you're seeking:

An agent will


email or snail mail to request a partial or full
call (very rare)
Sometimes the wording is along the lines of "I'd be interested in taking a look at..." or "I am intrigued by the premise of your story. Please snail mail the first three chapters" or some variation thereof. You might get a compliment or two.

does that answer the question?

Jean Marie
01-23-2006, 11:41 PM
Yup. Thanks, Clara. Appreciate it!

dantem42
01-24-2006, 07:35 AM
There are actually several queues. Thereís a queue for the query, a queue for the partial, and a queue for the full. If itís the agency policy to require an exclusive, then that exclusive gets you nothing. You still go to the back of the queue, just like all the others who were so foolish as to give it to them.



I don't completely agree. Generally, only a powerhouse agent will have the muscle to require exclusives on anything submitted and be able to pull it off without taking him/herself out of the running on a lot of opportunities. I write in the thriller genre, and I wouldn't grant an exclusive to just any agent, but if the agent who launched Tom Clancy or Thomas Harris is willing to read my ms but wants an exclusive as a matter of course, then it may be worth the trouble. Also, you should be able that way to get a definite time frame on the read, which you may not get otherwise.

maestrowork
01-24-2006, 07:43 AM
If they ask for an exclusive, they usually give a time frame; if they don't, you should always ask for one.

popmuze
01-24-2006, 07:13 PM
I wish I'd been aware of this site last February. The one agent who asked for an exclusive (by email) is the only one who never got back to me (I mean up until now). Neither did I ask for or receive a time frame. But after a while, a few follow up emails, one unanswered phone call, I wrote saying I was going to start shopping the ms around again. Never heard a response to that either (and I was recommended by a publisher to him).

Of course, the agent could be a shoe salesman now. I'll never know.

dantem42
01-25-2006, 06:29 AM
I wish I'd been aware of this site last February. The one agent who asked for an exclusive (by email) is the only one who never got back to me (I mean up until now). Neither did I ask for or receive a time frame. But after a while, a few follow up emails, one unanswered phone call, I wrote saying I was going to start shopping the ms around again. Never heard a response to that either (and I was recommended by a publisher to him).

Of course, the agent could be a shoe salesman now. I'll never know.

Situations like these offer only one consolation: the opportunity to pull out all the stops and call someone an unprofessional jackass, and inform him that you will post his perfidy on "Beware" sites. Which I hope you did, for the benefit of the masses. For an agent to request an exclusive and then never respond is unforgiveable, since it even takes the writer out of the running with other agents.

waylander
01-30-2006, 02:39 PM
Here's the situation folks.

A writer friend provided me with an introduction by e-mail to a well-known New York editor. I sent off my query and a couple of weeks later her intern contacted me to request the 1st 3 chapters and synopsis. A month later I met the editor briefly at a convention. She said 'I know who you are and I haven't read your stuff yet'. Fair enough, it had only been a month and I hadn't expected her to have read it by then. Fast forward to today: 6 months has now passed since I sent the samples and I have heard nothing.
Should I send a polite e-mail asking about the status of my samples, or should I sit on my hands for a while longer?

clara bow
01-30-2006, 10:45 PM
Here's the situation folks.

A writer friend provided me with an introduction by e-mail to a well-known New York editor. I sent off my query and a couple of weeks later her intern contacted me to request the 1st 3 chapters and synopsis. A month later I met the editor briefly at a convention. She said 'I know who you are and I haven't read your stuff yet'. Fair enough, it had only been a month and I hadn't expected her to have read it by then. Fast forward to today: 6 months has now passed since I sent the samples and I have heard nothing.
Should I send a polite e-mail asking about the status of my samples, or should I sit on my hands for a while longer?

IMHO, I think you should, especially since it was by referral.

waylander
02-15-2006, 10:58 PM
Update on this: I sent the e-mail. Got a prompt reply saying that the editor had had her budget cut, and is not acquiring as she has books scheduled out to 2008.

C'est la vie.

RoccoMom
02-28-2006, 10:11 PM
and decides that he/she wants to represent you, how is that handled?

Do they snail mail you a contract?
Do they send you an email?
Do they pick up the phone and call you.


If they would represent you but want you to make some changes to your ms, is that handled in the same manner?

just curious, as I send out my next batch of queries after striking out with the "exclusive" agent.

RoccoMom
03-15-2006, 03:14 PM
In my experience, two weeks to six months (or more). To get to the head of the line, you usually need an offer from a publisher.


So I imagine that's why most agents don't require exclusive submissions. Imagine holding up six months on sending it out only to be rejected. All that wasted tiime!

mistri
03-15-2006, 06:48 PM
So... how long should it take? The agent's world is a little difficult for me to understand. If it had been me, since I got the manuscript on a Friday, and it was a short "chick-lit" piece, I'd probably have read it over the weekend. It's a one-sitting read, light and funny, the kind of prose that entertains rather than demands concentration. But I know I'm supposed to expect weeks or months for the agent to read it.

What exactly is it that takes so long?

<snipped>

Just feeling a little down after the excitement of getting her go-ahead, and could use some cold hard facts to put things in perspective.

Sorry in advance, I know I'm responding to something said a while ago.

Remember, when you say 'If it had been me,' you're thinking about yourself as an agent with no backlog whatsoever. The agent who received your work may have read it over the weekend if they'd finished all their other work, but I'm pretty sure that never happens. And even though they often do take work home at the weekends, I'm not sure we should expect them to. What takes so long isn't necessarily reading *your* book, but reading everyone else's as well.

I'm not unsympathetic at all. I've just sent an agent some chapters and conversed with him a little over email. Now 50% of my writerly self is wondering why I haven't had a response in the first 24 hours (he said he'd do it as soon as possible - what's taking him so long!?) while the other 50% can *almost* understand that he has to deal with his current clients first, or other manuscripts that came in ahead of mine.

I dealt with this on the other side of the fence when I was an editorial assistant a few years ago. I actually loved getting manuscripts in that I requested, but though I made the occasional exception, I read most material in the order I got it, and with all my daily editing work to do as well, I was never fully up to date on everything. Consequently, an MS could come in that I was really looking forward to, but it would only get taken home if a)I wasn't planning to live my own life that weekend or if b) there wasn't something else that needed reading first.

aghast
03-15-2006, 08:08 PM
the problem with writers is that they think their mss are the only thing on the agents desks just because the agent asks for the mss, wrong! there are multiple queues, first there is the query queue and if you go through that queue and get requested, you will go through the partial queue and then if they request a full, you will now go through a full ms queue, the length of each queue depends on the agent and thats why it takes from weeks to months, i mean youre right, it takes a weekend to read a ms (if the agent is dilegent and he doesnt mind working over the weekend) but if there are 10 mss in that queue, he will need 10 weekends to go through and thats about 3 months and i believe most agents worth their salt would have more than 10 in that queue