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View Full Version : How long does it take for an agent to sell your work?



poppyI
08-27-2015, 01:27 PM
What is the approximate time for an agent to get a deal? When should we begin to worry?
Thanks for the feedback!

EMaree
08-27-2015, 03:45 PM
This is best discussed with your agent, once you have one. There's no one-size-fits-all approximate.

Fuchsia Groan
08-27-2015, 04:10 PM
I believe Janet Reid says it can take anywhere from a few hours to nine years. Over on the Next Circle thread, I have witnessed time frames ranging from a few days to a year and a half.

Agents can tell you what their median is. I only know it's an unpredictable process affected by many factors, such as the book's genre and timeliness, the editors, the season, the state of publishing, and the agent's reach and tenacity.

And yes, talk to your agent if you are worrying. Get some specifics about what is happening.

Aggy B.
08-27-2015, 04:39 PM
Some folks sell quickly. This can be because their agent is very well connected or because they started with lower tier presses to begin with or because the market for a particular thing is just right.

But just because you aren't selling right away doesn't mean you should worry, unless you think the MS is not actually on submission. You might suspect this if your agent is reluctant to tell you where they've subbed the MS or won't tell you what sort of response they got.

Sheryl Nantus
08-27-2015, 05:19 PM
An agent should be telling you WHERE the work has been submitted, if nothing else. You should know which publishers are considering it and if/when the agent is going to poke them for a response.

Publishing, by its very nature, is a slow business. Not to mention that we're coming off of summer with vacations and so forth.

In the mean time, get cracking on writing your next book!

Good luck!

EMaree
08-27-2015, 05:50 PM
PoppyI's other thread is about querying agents (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?310460-finding-a-US-agent), which makes me think they're currently unagented -- and if this is true, worrying about the time it takes to sell feels a wee bit like putting the cart before the horse. :) It's really not worth stressing yourself out about this until you're at that stage.

poppyI
08-27-2015, 05:59 PM
thanks guys, not represented; I just finished my book and began my agent search. I just want to be prepared! :)

Smiley0501
08-31-2015, 05:23 AM
poppyI, from what I have seen online - publishing is a slow process. Querying can be slow (or fast) and just like selling, too. Some agented friends sold in 3 days, some in 6 months, some in 2 years.There is no 'right' answer. Don't worry too much about it while you are querying - it could make you crazy (I know it was hard for me to see great books sell when I was still looking for an agent). Focus on finding the right agent for you. Good luck! :)

Jamesaritchie
08-31-2015, 06:39 PM
With my first novel, I found an agent in a week, and she sold the novel a couple of weeks after she had a copy in hand. I quickly learned this is not the way it usually goes.

Having an agent does not guarantee a sale at all, ever. Many novels never sell, even with an agent behind them. A novel that does sell can sell to the first publisher that sees it, and very quickly, if it's what the editor has been looking for, or very slowly, if it's a novel the editor likes, but isn't sure when and where it will fit.

When you get a good agent, and not all agents are good, even if they're honest and hard-working, or even if they've placed a novel here and there, you greatly increase your chances of selling your novel, but it's still far from certain, and it can still take years.

Like every other form of submission, don't think about it. How long it takes is completely out of your control, and the best possible thing you can do is forget about anything you have in an agent's hands, or that out on submission in any way. Spend all your time working on your next novel. That's something you can control, and having another novel ready to go before the first one has sold or been rejected for the last time is the best way you can help yourself succeed.

Cyia
08-31-2015, 06:47 PM
My first book sold in less than 48 hours on preempt. The second took longer because it involved an auction and was in a different genre. The third has gone through revision and resubmission to refit it to a changing market, and so took longer still.

There is no average for the time a book will sell, even if you've sold before.

poppyI
09-01-2015, 01:18 AM
hmm interesting, thank you guys!

Treehouseman
09-01-2015, 02:29 AM
It took me two solid years of querying one book to get an agent.

It never sold and three years later I'm back where I started, with no agent. That is actually the more common experience and the more *likely* outcome, so be very emotionally prepared for that, if/when it happens! You must keep writing through disappointments.

poppyI
09-18-2015, 12:57 PM
ouch, did the agent seem interested and excited? was it his fault perhaps he did not pitch it right?

Toothpaste
09-18-2015, 10:21 PM
poppyI - with regards to your question to Treehouseman: not every book sells. I have two novels right now that have never sold and my agent is awesome and has sold more of mine than she hasn't. The idea that the agent did something wrong is possible I suppose, but sometimes for whatever reason a book just isn't what publishers are looking for now. It isn't always a matter of fault or blame. Just bad timing or luck.

Damon Shulenberger
09-22-2015, 12:15 PM
Like every other form of submission, don't think about it. How long it takes is completely out of your control, and the best possible thing you can do is forget about anything you have in an agent's hands, or that out on submission in any way. Spend all your time working on your next novel.

I finally learned this the hard way, over the past five months with my agented manuscript Arisugawa Park.

I am now focused on a serial novel Cowachunga (http://www.endurancewriter.com/cowachunga) - Cohuanga that I would never have gotten into if not for the fact that I had a rejection-fed fire lit under my ass (five months, but I expected 5 weeks). This real-time (no section is prepared in advance) experiment turns out to be the most enjoyable writing exercise I have ever attempted. The way of the Tao is anything but straight....

Jamesaritchie
09-22-2015, 08:41 PM
ouch, did the agent seem interested and excited? was it his fault perhaps he did not pitch it right?

"Pitching it right" really changes nothing. Either an editor/publisher/acquisition board/bean counter think a book will make money, or he/she/they think it won't. Either this same person or group thinks a writer is worth investing in, even if the first book doesn't look likely to make a splash, or he/she/they do not.

A good pitch is more about the agent's reputation than about the pitch itself.

There are far more reason to say no to a book than there are reasons to say yes. Far more reasons. Having an agent, even a top agent, is no guarantee at all that a book will ever sell, and having an agent who is not at the top, well, the lower the agent is on the totem pole, the less likely it is that your book has any kind of chance.

Jamesaritchie
09-22-2015, 09:11 PM
I finally learned this the hard way, over the past five months with my agented manuscript Arisugawa Park.

I am now focused on a serial novel Cowachunga (http://www.endurancewriter.com/cowachunga) - Cohuanga that I would never have gotten into if not for the fact that I had a rejection-fed fire lit under my ass (five months, but I expected 5 weeks). This real-time (no section is prepared in advance) experiment turns out to be the most enjoyable writing exercise I have ever attempted. The way of the Tao is anything but straight....


I enjoyed this post. I'm really not supposed to do so, but I read the first page of the writing your link sent me to. I enjoyed it. Good writing. I would make two small suggestions. One is to use the character's name less often. As an example, you start the first two paragraphs with "Kyle". Then you use Kyle often in the following pages.

This kind of repetitiveness can distract a reader, pull the reader out of the story, and editors are all readers.

Sometimes you simply need to use "he", but often the reason for both "Kyle" and "he" comes from filtering. There a lot of "Kyle heard, Kyle saw, He spotted, etc.

Filtering is when something goes through the character before reaching the reader, and you do quite a bit of this. But from what I read, the writing is good, and so is the story, with the exception of these details.

Damon Shulenberger
09-23-2015, 07:46 AM
Thanks for the insight. I'll take a careful look at that. The second chapter, two weeks prior to the first, is where things start to get interesting. :)

I know I am not supposed to do it, but I took a look at your blog. Nice work.

Jo Zebedee
09-23-2015, 10:32 AM
Just to reiterate (and sorry if it causes panic) - there is no guarantee an agent will sell your work. Mine hit the market at a bad time for YA sf, was a difficult mix of YA/adult and the pitch failed. I was then dropped when book two presented the same concerns.

The writer's nightmare? Yes, and it stung, especially when I saw the rejections and how much editors had liked it but the market was tough. But I already had a three book deal - with a Space Opera specialist, but small, publisher - to concentrate on (set up by me and contracted by my (Top) agent) and, when I got the agented book released to me, I self published it.

Not the dream, of course. But that's publishing, we all have funny little paths we walk which is our own and no one elses. So, try not to put all your hopes on when will it sell? (I know I did.) Wait and see what path opens for you (but I hope you get a six figure deal :D)