PDA

View Full Version : Do agents read everything from the initial query submission before a further request?



Justin K
05-22-2016, 05:01 AM
I was just wondering, for agents whose submission guidelines say to include the first chapter or first ten pages, do they always complete reading the sample before asking for the full manuscript? I recently had a request for a full, and I think knowing this would let me feel good about my first chapter.

Haggis
05-22-2016, 05:05 AM
No. If they don't like the writing, they stop.

Not an agent, but we've kind of been here before.

You really have to hook them from the start.

ETA: But they wouldn't ask for a full if they didn't like what they saw.

Sage
05-22-2016, 05:06 AM
Usually if they wanted the pages with the query and now they're requesting, they've read enough of your sample to decide they want to read more. Some read the pages first.

blacbird
05-22-2016, 05:23 AM
Nope. I'd go so far as to say it's rare that they read everything.

caw

amergina
05-22-2016, 05:32 AM
If they can tell from the query or the beginning of the sample that it's not for them, they'll pass and not finish. They don't have the time to thoroughly read stuff they're going to pass on.

However, if they ask for more, it's almost 100% guaranteed that they read all of what you sent to them. So yes, you can feel good about your first chapter. :)

Justin K
05-22-2016, 05:45 AM
, they've read enough of your sample


Nope. I'd go so far as to say it's rare that they read everything.

caw


So if I'm reading correctly, there are some instances in which an agent may request a full but they've only read most of the sample that was sent? The only reason I could think they might do this is to check if the voice/style is consistent throughout the ms, but don't have lots of time to finish the whole first chapter. But that seems a little silly.

Loverofwords
05-22-2016, 05:51 AM
No, I'm pretty sure the agent would read all of your sample before requesting. There's no reason why they wouldn't. And they definitely wouldn't request a full if they didn't like it.

Earthling
05-22-2016, 05:55 AM
From what I've seen in interviews etc most agents, if the query entices them to begin reading, keep going until they want to stop. If they make it to the end of your pages without getting bored or confused or read something that turns them off, they request more. So I'd say it's likely they read and enjoyed your first chapter.

Justin K
05-22-2016, 06:22 AM
Well I'm hoping so. I do feel a little better now. I thank you everyone for sharing your knowledge.

Old Hack
05-22-2016, 11:21 AM
If you receive a full request, it usually means that an agent read it all and liked it, because their reader (or intern or junior agent) first read it all and liked it too.

When submissions are received at an agency, it's usual for interns, readers, junior agents or agents' assistants to read through them. They reject anything which the agency won't represent (so, non-fiction for agents who only represent fiction, poetry or YA books for agents who only represent crime or thrillers, and so on), they reject books which are not written well (this can include books which are sloppy and full of errors, books which are dull, and books which are incomprehensible conspiracy theories which suggest that President Bush was an alien planted by the CIA to turn America into a body-parts farm).

What's left should be the books which are well-written, interesting, and in genres which the agency might be interested in. This pile is less than twenty per cent of the original submissions pile--often FAR less than twenty per cent. I would have weeks where nothing remained from this initial cull.

Everything left over will be read through by the agents who might be interested. When they decide against a book they might not read to the end: there's no point reading pages of something they know they don't want. But if they decide to ask for a full they will read all they have, just to make sure.

Once they receive their full or partial they will read until they lose interest, and then they'll usually read a few pages more before rejecting. Almost all the people I know in publishing love their work (we have to: the pay is usually abysmal!) and are in awe of the brilliantly creative writers they encounter: they love the thrill of finding a good submission in the slush pile.

Dennis E. Taylor
05-22-2016, 07:00 PM
and books which are incomprehensible conspiracy theories which suggest that President Bush was an alien planted by the CIA to turn America into a body-parts farm).


I'm outraged by your attitude! The proof is incontrovertible! I'd post it here, but I left it in my other pants.

Jennifer_Laughran
05-23-2016, 05:45 PM
No, I'm pretty sure the agent would read all of your sample before requesting. There's no reason why they wouldn't. And they definitely wouldn't request a full if they didn't like it.

This whole thread made me laugh. I almost *never* read the whole thing before I request a full. I usually request the full after reading, like, a page or three. Sometimes I request it just based on the premise.

To set the scene for you: I'm at my computer and whipping through queries as fast as possible. Half the queries are garbage, straight up -- people that are not writing any genre I rep, or don't write in English, etc. The other half -- the decent half -- I'm still going to reject MOST of. But I usually know if I like something or I don't quite quickly. I only read the whole ten pages when I am on the fence about a submission.

If I like the premise and the voice - - and I know I'm going to want to read more - - why would I bother reading the whole first ten pages, when I can just wait for the whole ms to show up and really dive in, and read from the comfort of my e-reader on the couch? (I wouldn't, is the answer).

However, what difference does it make how much they read? They read enough to want to read more, which is the point, yeah?

Old Hack
05-23-2016, 07:19 PM
This whole thread made me laugh. I almost *never* read the whole thing before I request a full. I usually request the full after reading, like, a page or three. Sometimes I request it just based on the premise.

To set the scene for you: I'm at my computer and whipping through queries as fast as possible. Half the queries are garbage, straight up -- people that are not writing any genre I rep, or don't write in English, etc. The other half -- the decent half -- I'm still going to reject MOST of. But I usually know if I like something or I don't quite quickly. I only read the whole ten pages when I am on the fence about a submission.

If I like the premise and the voice - - and I know I'm going to want to read more - - why would I bother reading the whole first ten pages, when I can just wait for the whole ms to show up and really dive in, and read from the comfort of my e-reader on the couch? (I wouldn't, is the answer).

When I first started dealing with submissions I didn't read the best ones right through to the end: I requested fulls as soon as I was interested. Over time, though, I realised that I was seeing a lot of submissions which were great in the first five pages or so, but which fell apart soon after that. I started reading submissions through to the end, and ended up requesting fewer fulls. In the long run, spending that extra bit of time on them saved me time.


However, what difference does it make how much they read? They read enough to want to read more, which is the point, yeah?

Agreed.

Justin K
05-25-2016, 10:25 AM
This whole thread made me laugh.

I'm glad to have made an impact. I guess my question has been answered that having received a request for more ms does not necessarily mean the submission material was solid throughout. And now it makes so much sense. Thank you!

LaneHeymont
05-28-2016, 08:46 AM
I read every query that comes in. I’ll stop at any point I lose interest. The only time I request more is if I read the whole submission (I ask for the first 5 pages pasted in the body of the email) and want to read more.