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View Full Version : What does "exclusive" really mean?



mslizwil
10-23-2015, 08:22 PM
After reading my first 50 pp., an agent asked for my full as an "exclusive." I told her I was happy to send it but that
four other agents already had the full. Should I feel good about this "exclusive" business, or is this just her way
of doing business?

Thedrellum
10-23-2015, 08:54 PM
Some agents automatically ask for exclusives for every submission they take an interest in, and usually they are amenable to other agents already looking at it. Some, however, really want to be exclusive and won't look at a submission unless they can get an exclusive. Without knowing anything else, I would just say that this is her normal way of doing business.

That said, you should feel good about it, because it means that your book has caught the eye of an agent, and that's always a plus. So congratulations on that, and good luck!

mslizwil
10-24-2015, 01:31 AM
Thanks so much for your thoughtful response.

Aggy B.
10-24-2015, 04:43 AM
For future reference, if you are in a position of having an exclusive with a single agent you need to specify that they have a certain amount of time before that exclusivity expires. (Usually 2-4 weeks depending on how much other interest you have had.) That doesn't mean they have to respond within that time, just that you need to be politely clear that you will continue to query after X weeks pass.

Jamesaritchie
10-25-2015, 10:23 AM
For future reference, if you are in a position of having an exclusive with a single agent you need to specify that they have a certain amount of time before that exclusivity expires. (Usually 2-4 weeks depending on how much other interest you have had.) That doesn't mean they have to respond within that time, just that you need to be politely clear that you will continue to query after X weeks pass.

That's a pretty certain way to make some top agents send your full back unread. It's just a way of saying they should put everything and everyone else behind you, as if they had nothing better to do than deal with another unpublished writer who wants to dictate terms.

Getting in a hurry never hurts anyone but you, and putting a time limit on something when you have no clue at all what the agent has on her plate is getting in the worst kind of hurry. An agent who agrees to such a time limit is an agent I wouldn't go near.

Aggy B.
10-25-2015, 04:21 PM
Well, the other alternative is to never agree to an exclusive. But if you are giving a single agent the opportunity to look at your MS while no one else is (and you are being honest about it) it's not in your best interest to just send it off and wait foe an unlimited amount of time for them to get back to you.

I am not suggesting giving them a deadline to respond. But making clear that they have a certain length of time in which they are the only ones looking at the MS is in your best interest. An agent who is going to send your MS back unread because you don't have a year to wait for a response is the kind of agent *I* wouldn't want.

Personally, I would give them four weeks. That should be plenty of time for an agent who says they are so interested in a MS that they don't want anyone else looking at it to read the MS. I only had one agent ask for an exclusive (which I couldn't give her because it was already out with four other agents at that point). She's known for asking for exclusives but giving responses within a very specific amount of time. But many agents don't give you a specific amount of time and you can wind up waiting for months on a form response or no response at all.

whiporee
10-25-2015, 06:26 PM
James, that's flat out crazy talk.

Any agent wants you to limit your works's availability to others and then balks at you putting a reasonable time limit in that limitation is the agent no one wants, because they are quickly showing you that you are not a priority and never will be. Three weeks is plenty if an agent is interested enough to want to take you off the market. If they want to take their time with your MS that's perfectly acceptable, but you as a writer can't agree to take your work out of availability for an undefined or long period of time. It's putting all the eggs in the one basket, except in this case you don't know anything about the basket besides what you read on line. Doing that for a long period of time would be career suicide for you, and nothing any agent worth your time (or their commission) would expect.

If they are the right agent, they'll see their relationship with you as a partnership, not one where you give unreciprocated allegiance to them. OP, give them three week -- a month at the absolute outside -- and stick to it. If they're excited enough to want to read your book exclusively, them they ought to be excited enough to read it in a month.

Victor Douglas
10-25-2015, 06:39 PM
No less than five agents asked to see the full MS? Wow.

mayqueen
10-26-2015, 04:47 AM
JIt's putting all the eggs in the one basket, except in this case you don't know anything about the basket besides what you read on line.
I feel like it's appropriate to link to agent Janet Reid's discussion of exclusives (http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/2009/08/exclusives-stink.html).

MandyHubbard
10-27-2015, 07:50 PM
That's a pretty certain way to make some top agents send your full back unread. It's just a way of saying they should put everything and everyone else behind you, as if they had nothing better to do than deal with another unpublished writer who wants to dictate terms.



James, I don't know why you insist on answering ask the agent questions when so frequently you seem to be making it up as you go along.

NOT placing a reasonable time period on the exclusive is a terrible idea for the writer, as you're unable to further query the manuscript until you get an answer, which may never come.

Few agents ask for exclusives to begin with, as most of us feel it's unfair. Most of those who do are fine with a reasonable period of exclusivity. And frankly if an agent stomped her feet and wouldn't read because they got a writer's fully for "only" 4 weeks exclusively I wouldn't want to work with them.

Jennifer_Laughran
10-27-2015, 08:57 PM
I'd like to just say that I started to reply to JAR's nonsense yesterday and got so overcome with anger that I had to stop. But the short version is: YEAH NO, that is completely wrong-headed advice, and MANDY IS CORRECT.

TerryRodgers
10-28-2015, 06:12 PM
James believes there are only a couple dozen agents representing each genre that are any good. All the rest, well maybe he'll elaborate.

Thedrellum
10-28-2015, 08:53 PM
Even if there WERE only a couple of dozen good agents for any genre, I'm pretty certain exclusives still wouldn't make sense.