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popmuze
02-25-2016, 07:17 PM
Is anyone finding that agents are taking a lot longer to respond to queries these days--if they respond at all? A year ago, when I sent out five copies of my query, I used to get two requests for pages within a few hours. And I'd never hear from the other three. This week, same query, I sent out seven copies and got back two automatic responses saying they received the query and will get back to me only if they're interested. The other five--nothing. And it's been two days.

As a side note, I have a superstition about emails in general. In most cases if I'm going to get a response I get it that day or not at all. Occasionally I'll get a response two weeks later. I actually like the no response means no tactic, because, in that case, when you see an agent's name pop up in your in-box, you can feel pretty sure they want to see pages. What I hate the most is when an agent writes back after a month only to reject the query.

JasonWrites84
02-25-2016, 07:22 PM
I've noticed most agents have switched to only responding if something interests them--period. Also, responses times I've seen for agents I've queried can be anywhere from 8-12 weeks. That being said, I did get two rejections within 5 days this week.

ElaineA
02-25-2016, 07:32 PM
Two days? Doubtful in most cases. Agent inboxes are flooded. Sara Megibow took in 25,000+ queries last year. One agent I follow tweeted the other day she's caught up on materials sent before October. And she was very excited about that. There are just a lot more people querying and the majority an agent's time is supposed to be spent on their clients. Queries are somewhat down the priority list. Some agents (Jim McCarthy, for example) seem to make them a priority to clear that duty for the day. I got an R from him in 8 hours. But for the most part, I'm assuming no response ever on any query. If I get a request or a rejection, I'm pleasantly surprised.

EMaree
02-25-2016, 08:07 PM
Yeah, I've noticed a huge different this year especially compared to 2012/2013. US agents are still, by and large, immensely faster than UK agents though. (But UK agents ask for much larger submission packages, and Janet Reid had a fascinating breakdown about the time this can add (http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/do-math.html)).

Earthling
02-25-2016, 08:11 PM
UK agents are hopeless!

I've found most agents who request materials are doing it quickly - within a couple of days usually. I think they skim them as they come in and then set aside a certain period a week to send out the form rejects (if they do that at all).

mayqueen
02-25-2016, 08:49 PM
I don't know about the idea that agents request quickly or not at all. I've had just as many requests within hours or days as I've had after weeks and months. It all depends on the agent. This is why I find something like Query Tracker very helpful.

blacbird
02-25-2016, 10:04 PM
Two days? You're worried about two days?

caw

nadja1972
02-26-2016, 01:36 AM
Like mayqueen said, Querytracker is really useful for this, especially using the "Reports" feature if you're a premium member. For each agent, you can look at their query response times during a specific period (the last 90 days, last 6 months, etc.). The replies are also broken down into acceptances versus rejections, so you can see how long a particular agent takes for each. You can even see how often they accept or reject certain genres. Check it out if you haven't. It's another thing you can obsessively check while waiting to hear back :)

Cyia
02-26-2016, 01:46 AM
It's getting to the point that agents are putting themselves at risk by doing anything other than "no response means no," and that started around 2012. You can find some of the horror stories on agent blogs and on Twitter, and it truly is horrifyingly scary in some cases. A few nasty apples have spoiled things for the nice, professional writers who sincerely hope to work with the agents they query.

In 2012, same day/same week requests happened for both US and UK agents, but that's the last time period I have personal knowledge of. I don't doubt that increased submission loads have increased response times exponentially.

Remember that query reading isn't something the agent gets paid for. It's not actually part of their work day. They have to read when they get the time, which is why most have their assistants cull the lists for them. (meaning -- it could be a lot worse than a few weeks wait if they had to read everything themselves). And not all agents read in order of receipt. I know for a fact that a couple of the "instant" responses I received came from agents with clogged inboxes, but my query hit right as they sat down to read during lunch, so they went ahead and opened it. Others drifted in weeks or even months later. One came in after about six months.

I know hearing it doesn't help, but hang in there. They really aren't ignoring you.

mayqueen
02-26-2016, 03:12 AM
It's getting to the point that agents are putting themselves at risk by doing anything other than "no response means no," and that started around 2012. You can find some of the horror stories on agent blogs and on Twitter, and it truly is horrifyingly scary in some cases. A few nasty apples have spoiled things for the nice, professional writers who sincerely hope to work with the agents they query.
I've been noticing agents on twitter commenting on some of the responses to rejections. It really does ruin things for the rest of us.

Cyia
02-26-2016, 04:30 AM
I've been noticing agents on twitter commenting on some of the responses to rejections. It really does ruin things for the rest of us.

The worst one I ever saw involved a man who confronted an agent at her child's elementary school. Thankfully, she drove with a very large dog in the car, and the local police believed her when she reported him. But still very, very scary.

aus10phile
02-26-2016, 05:19 AM
Don't know what it's like now. I'll find out soon enough! 2 years ago when I was querying, I didn't get any responses faster than a few days. I suspect to get one within hours you'd have to hit an agent when they're caught up. Most of mine were between 1 week and 1 month. Because I like geeky stats, I looked back at my notes and saw that only 7% never responded (2 out of 28). I'm surprised it was that few.

Undercover
02-26-2016, 07:14 AM
I've been querying different novels over the years and yes, I have noticed a big difference in responses. I remember getting same day requests or rejections. I have also noticed that all my requests have been within 2 weeks of sending the query. I queried a different novel about 6 months ago and I got a request that was 7 weeks after the query. But that was a different novel. The one I'm doing now seems like forever for responses. Longest (for the newest one) 5 months after querying. I've had some come in as late as 8 months on other novels.

And a lot of non responders. About 50% for me.

Treehouseman
02-26-2016, 11:10 AM
I kind of noticed that too, a couple of years ago if you got a reply after a couple of months (back in 2013) there was still a 70-80% chance it could be a positive request.

In mid-late 2015 I did another round, and all the positives came in the first week. The rejections trickled in after. I think the query and sample pages are more and more the make or break of acceptances.

TECarter
02-26-2016, 05:09 PM
UK agents are hopeless!

I've found most agents who request materials are doing it quickly - within a couple of days usually. I think they skim them as they come in and then set aside a certain period a week to send out the form rejects (if they do that at all).

This seems to be my experience. While some are slower, I do think they quick scan and request/reject what definitely feels right or wrong. At least some. And everything else gets put aside in the meantime. But in this batch of queries, I had three rejects and a request in the first 24 hours. Once I had the offer, I had requests from six more almost immediately.

I figure it probably works a little differently for everyone but I also wonder if genre impacts the timeline. Say an agent has three fulls and two partials in SFF and you query SFF. They may put yours on hold while they respond quickly to a romance because they don't have much coming in from romance. I would rather my work stand out and that's just how I imagine I would read them. Because after five titles with similar elements, I may not be in the right mindset to read more in that genre.

I could be completely wrong. Just what I think I would do. Of course some people just want the inbox cleared!!

Point is, I wouldn't worry about a few days. I like QueryTracker but even if you're seeing a lot of responses and yours is delayed, it could be for a good reason. Maybe they're passing it on to someone else in the agency or they're waiting on genre. I think 6-8 weeks, unless they say no answer is a no, is generally okay for nudging. You can also check Twitter. A lot of agents will say "caught up through" whatever date and ask you to resend if you didn't hear.

Cyia
02-26-2016, 05:20 PM
Most of these "stats" are observational bias, which is why query tracker and the like are so valuable. Everyone queries in their own bubble. When you get three requests on day one, and then nothing but rejections after that, it can be easy to assume that only rejections take longer. That's not actually true.

If an agent reads in the order of receipt, and only gets to read after work or on the weekends, AND they have to wait for their reader/assistant to give them the twenty or so samples culled from the week's queries, then it can be 3-6 weeks before they even get to your query in the queue.

Readers/interns are the reason for a lot of those quick requests. They skim the queries and then make the request for the agent on the assumption that it may be something the agent will like. Then all of the partial/full manuscripts go into another queue and get read in whatever order the agent chooses.

If you have a recommendation, then you go to the head of the line. If X genre is selling like mad, and the agent requests that X genre manuscripts be put on top of the pile, then you to the head of the line. If you get an offer from an agent, and you tell the others, then you likely go to the head of the line.

If you have a novel in Y genre, and the agent has 2 Y genre novels they're considering, they may offer to one writer over the other to avoid competing manuscripts. Likewise, if you have an awesome book about Z, the agent might request it quickly, but then an existing client comes up with a book about Z, so they pass on the new writer to avoid competing manuscripts.

There are dozens upon dozens of reasons an agent might have a book for weeks before giving an answer.

Undercover
02-26-2016, 06:13 PM
Those are good examples, Cyia. I agree there are some that take longer and are still considering your novel/query. I'd like to think that I still might get a good response from queries 4 and 5 months ago, but for me (and this is just me) I usually mentally mark them off my list because the chances of it being a non-respond are greater now. Plus there are a lot that even say, if you don't hear back in 6 to 8 weeks (or whatever time frame) it's usually a pass.

It would be interesting to see if some got a request that was 3 months or longer. I'd definitely feel more hopeful then.

ElaineA
02-26-2016, 07:06 PM
The longest I've had from query to request is just short of 2 months. I had written it off as NR so I was surprised, then I saw that the agent takes a long time for everything. Up to a year to get back after a full request. :Wha: Overall my experience has been pretty quick requests (2-13 days), and interestingly I've only been asked for one partial. All the others were full requests from the get-go. I suppose it's just as easy to ask for the whole as a partial now with electronic documents.

popmuze
02-26-2016, 07:15 PM
Most of these "stats" are observational bias, which is why query tracker and the like are so valuable. Everyone queries in their own bubble. When you get three requests on day one, and then nothing but rejections after that, it can be easy to assume that only rejections take longer. That's not actually true.

If an agent reads in the order of receipt, and only gets to read after work or on the weekends, AND they have to wait for their reader/assistant to give them the twenty or so samples culled from the week's queries, then it can be 3-6 weeks before they even get to your query in the queue.

Readers/interns are the reason for a lot of those quick requests. They skim the queries and then make the request for the agent on the assumption that it may be something the agent will like. Then all of the partial/full manuscripts go into another queue and get read in whatever order the agent chooses.

If you have a recommendation, then you go to the head of the line. If X genre is selling like mad, and the agent requests that X genre manuscripts be put on top of the pile, then you to the head of the line. If you get an offer from an agent, and you tell the others, then you likely go to the head of the line.

If you have a novel in Y genre, and the agent has 2 Y genre novels they're considering, they may offer to one writer over the other to avoid competing manuscripts. Likewise, if you have an awesome book about Z, the agent might request it quickly, but then an existing client comes up with a book about Z, so they pass on the new writer to avoid competing manuscripts.

There are dozens upon dozens of reasons an agent might have a book for weeks before giving an answer.




And I'll bet, in many of these cases, the agent will provide you with a form rejection saying "didn't love the voice," which probably has nothing to do with why it was rejected.

Cyia
02-26-2016, 07:19 PM
It would be interesting to see if some got a request that was 3 months or longer. I'd definitely feel more hopeful then.

Again, it was a few years ago, but I had this happen. I had forgotten I queried a couple of agencies (they had submission forms, rather than email queries, so the letters weren't in my "sent" folder) who requested pages after I'd signed with my agent.

Maxx
02-26-2016, 07:47 PM
. Some agents (Jim McCarthy, for example) seem to make them a priority to clear that duty for the day. I got an R from him in 8 hours. But for the most part, I'm assuming no response ever on any query. If I get a request or a rejection, I'm pleasantly surprised.

Sam Morgan sent me a very nice rejection in six hours yesterday! The rejection was pretty interesting, even if it was not particularly customized for me. In other news, I haven't heard anything else out of my latest batch of queries. A lot of no response means no response, I guess.

Maxx
02-26-2016, 07:49 PM
And I'll bet, in many of these cases, the agent will provide you with a form rejection saying "didn't love the voice," which probably has nothing to do with why it was rejected.

Yep, the form rejections are kind of odd and interesting in themselves since they seem to be mostly interested in saying something like -- "Nothing personal, maybe its me. Don't suffer too much." Without saying that of course.

Undercover
02-26-2016, 08:03 PM
Again, it was a few years ago, but I had this happen. I had forgotten I queried a couple of agencies (they had submission forms, rather than email queries, so the letters weren't in my "sent" folder) who requested pages after I'd signed with my agent.

I was thinking more recently. Years ago I would have a few too. I have 2 requests still pending and I'm scared because it's going on 2 months. I know that's not too long but I also think (and maybe this is my warped thinking) that the longer it goes, the worse it gets. I know that's not always the case, but it seems more likely in most cases.

Quickbread
02-26-2016, 08:58 PM
I once got a full request seven months after I queried, but that was also a few years ago. My query had gotten passed on to a different agent than I originally queried.

Fuchsia Groan
02-29-2016, 09:27 AM
In 2014, I got a request six weeks after querying, long after I'd written the query off. It became an offer from my now-agent.

In general, if I hadn't heard from someone after a week or two, I never did. But the exception can be the one that matters.

Niiicola
02-29-2016, 09:42 PM
When I queried in spring 2015, most of my requests came within a week, with one that came after exactly a month. I got an offer after two months, so that probably skews things a little, as some agents might have requested after that time period.

In 2014, I found a similar pattern, with the requests coming sooner rather than later, but a few coming in after three or four weeks, and the longest one at two months.

Seconding everybody's suggestions to go on QueryTracker. There's a feature that logs everybody's queries in date order, as well as the date they got a request/rejection, so you can get a general idea of where the agent is in terms of responding. It's both a blessing and a curse, to be honest.

LaneHeymont
03-01-2016, 10:56 PM
It's getting to the point that agents are putting themselves at risk by doing anything other than "no response means no," and that started around 2012. You can find some of the horror stories on agent blogs and on Twitter, and it truly is horrifyingly scary in some cases. A few nasty apples have spoiled things for the nice, professional writers who sincerely hope to work with the agents they query.

In 2012, same day/same week requests happened for both US and UK agents, but that's the last time period I have personal knowledge of. I don't doubt that increased submission loads have increased response times exponentially.

Remember that query reading isn't something the agent gets paid for. It's not actually part of their work day. They have to read when they get the time, which is why most have their assistants cull the lists for them. (meaning -- it could be a lot worse than a few weeks wait if they had to read everything themselves). And not all agents read in order of receipt. I know for a fact that a couple of the "instant" responses I received came from agents with clogged inboxes, but my query hit right as they sat down to read during lunch, so they went ahead and opened it. Others drifted in weeks or even months later. One came in after about six months.

I know hearing it doesn't help, but hang in there. They really aren't ignoring you.


I hate to say this, but I used to pride myself on responding to all queries in a timely fashion, but Cyia is right. Times are different now. People can get real nasty. Most people are kind, respectful, and understanding, but the point is you never know who will be and who won't be.

It's become safer, physically and emotionally, to adopt a "no response means no" policy.