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billie
04-09-2006, 12:55 AM
So I've given an agent an exclusive look at my novel. He said he'd get back to me in 2-3 weeks. At the end of the three weeks he wrote me (unprompted) to ask for more time. I gladly obliged. It's now been two more weeks and I realize he didn't say how -much- more time he needed. I'd like to write and find out the status and also suggest that if it's going to be much longer I'd like to send out the manuscript to other players.

Here's the question: How does one say all of that without sounding snippy?

Many thanks.

scarlet
04-09-2006, 01:47 AM
Hi Billie,

I'd be careful here because if the agent has actually come back to you to ask for more time, perhaps he is showing your manuscript to some publishers. Two weeks is nothing in publishing I'd wait another month at least. The trouble is, when you've only got 'one iron in the fire' you fix all your attention on that one thing. It's very difficult because you don't want to appear too pushy but it's agony waiting but I know neither agents or publishers like to be pressured.

I'm sure someone else will give you a better idea of what to say when the right time comes. I hope it's all worth the wait, some of us would give our right arm just to get an agent even interested. Well Done!

clara bow
04-09-2006, 01:51 AM
At the risk of belaboring the obvious, I think you would've been justified to ask for a time limit on the second go-round. Since you didn't, I guess one thing to consider is how strong you think your prospects are with other agents. If you think this agent is a strong match/has a lot of interest in your 'script, then you may want to give him another few weeks or so (4 wks tops, IMHO) before emailing.

However, if you've had tons of requests for partials or fulls, and believe you can just as easily land another good agent, then of course feel free to send an ultra polite, brief, professional email to nudge at this point.

If I were in your situation, in light of the lack of a time limit, and if I really wanted this particular agent, I would give him another two weeks before emailing. That's just me, though.

good luck!

billie
04-09-2006, 06:53 PM
Thanks for the responses. Scarlet, yours in particular raises many more questions:

(First of all I just went back and realized it's been 3 weeks, not 2, since he asked for more time. So I guess I'll give it another week and see what happens.)

Scarlet, you suggest that perhaps the agent asked for more time because he's showing it to publishers... is that ethical? Would an agent do that without telling the author? Without having a contract? And if they do that and then reject you, do they tell you they've sent it around? Seems like it burns your chances with another agent who might take you on but not know that the manuscript has been shown around. I thought maybe he would share the manuscript with others in his agency, but it never dawned on me that he might show it to publishers without my knowledge or consent. Can anyone shed any light on this idea?

davidhburton
04-09-2006, 08:09 PM
That's a really good question, Billie, and one I'd love to know the answer to.

Is is standard practice for an agent to try to pitch your manuscript to a publisher before signing you on?

victoriastrauss
04-09-2006, 08:11 PM
An agent who's thinking about taking on a project may ask around to ascertain editor interest, but I think it's very unlikely that they'd actually let anyone read a novel they didn't represent. Of course you can never say "never" in this business, but I think it's far more likely that this agent is simply busy, and couldn't get to your novel in the timeframe he originally gave you. 2-3 weeks is quite short for an exclusive--many agents ask for three months or even more.

I'd give it another week (since you've already waited three) and then email again to inquire. If you get another excuse, it's a judgment call--you can cut the agent more slack (but do give him a timeframe, such as 3 weeks) or you can say that you've got other requests and feel you need to start honoring them (and remember, an exclusive on a full ms. only means that another agent shouldn't be looking at the FULL manuscript at the same time; you can still be sending out queries and partials and you don't need to tell anyone that anyone else is reading).

If you decide to give the agent more time and get another brushoff at the end of it, I'd say that it's starting to look less like busyness and more like a lack of enthusiasm for your project.

- Victoria

davidhburton
04-09-2006, 08:21 PM
I actually had a "not-so-reputable" agent trying to pitch my ms to a publisher before signing me on....apparently there was interest there, but in the end I chose not to sign on with that agent.

Now I'm wondering if I should mention the apparent interest with that publisher to agents. (I should point out that on my web statistics I am able to confirm that that particular publisher DID in fact visit my site.) It could go either way, either for or against me.

Any thoughts?
Thanks!

victoriastrauss
04-10-2006, 12:42 AM
David, I'd be able to give you a better answer if I knew who the agent was and who the publisher was. PM me if you prefer to keep it private.

A not-so-reputable agent will often have a tough time getting reputable publishers to pay attention to him/her. And busy editors aren't all that likely to visit an author's website, especially if they have a manuscript in hand. So I'm wondering not just about this agent (I know of questionable agents who use a bogus promise of publisher interest to try and hook clients) but about the publisher.

- Victoria

davidhburton
04-10-2006, 03:31 AM
Thanks Victoria!

I'll PM you on this one.

It is a reputable publisher from what I know.

Cheers!
David

scarlet
04-11-2006, 01:46 AM
Hi Billie,

Sorry to raise such a 'can of worms' but I meant more discussing your idea with others, maybe publishers rather than showing your actual manuscript. But I'm afraid not everyone is ethical as we know to our cost. I think it is a sound idea to wait another week and then get in touch. Then as Victoria says if you don't get a satisfactory reply it's probably time to approach others.