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writera
10-31-2018, 07:27 PM
When it comes to agents making an offer of representation, I've seen that industry standard is to ask for around 2 weeks to decide. Is this the case? Can you ever ask for longer?

Also, if a publisher makes an offer (and/or sends a contract), how long can you ask them for (either to contact another publisher or contact agents, etc.) Is it also two weeks? Or could you go longer and ask for a month?

Introversion
10-31-2018, 09:40 PM
When it comes to agents making an offer of representation, I've seen that industry standard is to ask for around 2 weeks to decide. Is this the case? Can you ever ask for longer?

I don’t know, but I’m not sure why two weeks wouldn’t be long enough? If you have full requests out to other agents when an offer to represent comes in, tell the other agents. Either they’ll move quicker, or pass quicker. But if the offer on your table seems good and is with an agent you’re comfortable working with, you ought to be able to decide within two weeks.


Also, if a publisher makes an offer (and/or sends a contract), how long can you ask them for (either to contact another publisher or contact agents, etc.) Is it also two weeks? Or could you go longer and ask for a month?

Pretty sure this fuse is set by the publisher, and I’d be a little surprised if they’d give you even two weeks? Will be interested to har what people’s experiences here have been.

writera
10-31-2018, 09:48 PM
I don’t know, but I’m not sure why two weeks wouldn’t be long enough? If you have full requests out to other agents when an offer to represent comes in, tell the other agents. Either they’ll move quicker, or pass quicker. But if the offer on your table seems good and is with an agent you’re comfortable working with, you ought to be able to decide within two weeks..

Yeah, I think you're right. Two weeks is probably long enough, I was just thinking in cases where an agent might still only have a partial or what have you.


Pretty sure this fuse is set by the publisher, and I’d be a little surprised if they’d give you even two weeks? Will be interested to har what people’s experiences here have been.

Am interested too. I recently got an offer from a small press. They gave me no deadline. I asked for some time to decide and nudged another publisher who is also deciding (haven't heard back yet) to let them know. I don't want to leave the small press dangling forever, but so far they haven't checked back in. They might ask me to decide by a certain date or I may have to give the other publisher a deadline, so not sure how this works. I was going to give them two weeks but thought that might not be long enough, hence why I was thinking a month.

lizmonster
10-31-2018, 10:02 PM
You shouldn't ever make a choice against your better judgment, but be aware that in some cases there are good reasons for people asking for a decision in a particular timeframe. Publishers in particular will have production schedules that don't always have a lot of slush in them - for them, a two-week difference may become a two-month (or longer) delay in the date they publish your book.

I'd think, as long as you were professional about it, you could ask, but I'd try to be prepared for what to do if they say no.

lizmonster
10-31-2018, 10:10 PM
Yeah, I think you're right. Two weeks is probably long enough, I was just thinking in cases where an agent might still only have a partial or what have you.

In those cases, you notify the other agent(s) that you've got an offer, and give them a timeframe in which to respond.


I recently got an offer from a small press. They gave me no deadline. I asked for some time to decide and nudged another publisher who is also deciding (haven't heard back yet) to let them know. I don't want to leave the small press dangling forever, but so far they haven't checked back in. They might ask me to decide by a certain date or I may have to give the other publisher a deadline, so not sure how this works. I was going to give them two weeks but thought that might not be long enough, hence why I was thinking a month.

In the future, I'd suggest you offer to get back to Publisher 1 on X date, and use that date to set a timeframe for Publisher 2's response. An open-ended, who-knows-when-or-if-we'll-ever-speak-again business transaction seems terribly risky to me.

For now, I'd contact Publisher 1 and ask them when they needed your reply. actually, different advice - I think I'd contact them with a date by which you'll get back to them, and ask them to let you know if they need to hear back sooner.

Harlequin
10-31-2018, 10:13 PM
I gave two weeks for offer of rep, but if it hadn't been summer I might have made it 1. Not that many people reading. I heard back from all and sundry by the 10 day mark.

I woudln't go over 2 weeks for an agent, but then I opted to query agents who had fast response times, so it felt appropriate to extend the same courtesy. I suppose if you've gotten an offer who takes 50 days to request a partial, naother 70 to request a full, and another 40 to make an offer (or whatever) you might well be within your rights to ask for longer period. NOt sure. In practice, I suspect most of us are keen to sign and don't want to wait around.

I've heard you should ask publishers for two weeks to seek representation and query very quickly. It seems about the right amount of time.

writera
10-31-2018, 10:16 PM
In those cases, you notify the other agent(s) that you've got an offer, and give them a timeframe in which to respond.



In the future, I'd suggest you offer to get back to Publisher 1 on X date, and use that date to set a timeframe for Publisher 2's response. An open-ended, who-knows-when-or-if-we'll-ever-speak-again business transaction seems terribly risky to me.

For now, I'd contact Publisher 1 and ask them when they needed your reply. actually, different advice - I think I'd contact them with a date by which you'll get back to them, and ask them to let you know if they need to hear back sooner.

I think I'm just afraid of being forceful with the bigger publisher as whenever I've nudged before it's usually resulted in a prompt rejection. Also, I think as writers we're so used to waiting for such huge amounts of time (3 months, 6 months, 1 year) that it's hard (especially without an agent) to suddenly become forceful and say "If I don't hear from you by ??/??/??", I'll assume this is a pass. But I agree that you can't leave it hanging. The only other alternative is to turn down the small offer and wait it out.

As for agents, I didn't give them a deadline either. But I was just checking if two weeks was the right amount of time. I don't know people decided on these dates. Like, how is 2 weeks the right amount of time but 1 month could be too long? What if an agent or publisher needs at least a month to read a manuscript, go to acquisitions, etc.? Argh! No wonder I'm not an agent.

writera
10-31-2018, 10:18 PM
I've heard you should ask publishers for two weeks to seek representation and query very quickly. It seems about the right amount of time.

Oh, good to know. So 2 weeks seems to be the standard time to give agents and publishers? I don't know why I thought a month, maybe it's the timid writer in me, or that I was confused by the whole, wait 3 months (and some say 6) before you check in. I know an offer is different, but I still get confused with the timeframes.

lizmonster
10-31-2018, 10:31 PM
I think I'm just afraid of being forceful with the bigger publisher as whenever I've nudged before it's usually resulted in a prompt rejection.

Sorry about the Rs. Odds are, though, they weren't due to your nudge - your nudge just made someone think "Oh, yeah, I haven't gotten back to writera yet."

If you're nudging with an offer in hand, I'd just say something like "Please let me know by X date if you're interested," and then take the offer if you don't hear back from anyone else. (If you're hesitant about the offer you have for any reason, I'd evaluate that separately.)

writera
10-31-2018, 10:39 PM
Another question. Does silence usually mean a no/not interested?

If you've already nudged to say you've had an offer/interest (but didn't give a deadline) and two weeks goes by, would it be correct to assume they're not interested or at the very least aren't super interested? After all, surely if they were, they would have responded by now, right (even if the nudge wasn't very forceful)? And even if they weren't ready to counter offer, if they were interested, surely they'd have written back to say SOMETHING, right? I'm trying to imagine a scenario where they might be interested (as they initially said they were very interested) and quietly going about the business of trying to acquire permission to offer on your manuscript - but why would they be so silent to your email then if that was the case? My logical feeling is telling me the bigger publisher must not be interested, though I've read that you shouldn't read too much into silence either.

lizmonster
10-31-2018, 11:03 PM
Another question. Does silence usually mean a no/not interested?

If you've already nudged to say you've had an offer/interest (but didn't give a deadline) and two weeks goes by, would it be correct to assume they're not interested or at the very least aren't super interested? After all, surely if they were, they would have responded by now, right (even if the nudge wasn't very forceful)? And even if they weren't ready to counter offer, if they were interested, surely they'd have written back to say SOMETHING, right? I'm trying to imagine a scenario where they might be interested (as they initially said they were very interested) and quietly going about the business of trying to acquire permission to offer on your manuscript - but why would they be so silent to your email then if that was the case? My logical feeling is telling me the bigger publisher must not be interested, though I've read that you shouldn't read too much into silence either.

I think you've got yourself stuck in an unfortunate situation here. As a general rule, a publisher taking more than two weeks to decide isn't particularly alarming - but in this case, you've got another publisher waiting, and nobody has any deadlines. You're taking a risk by waiting on the bigger publisher, but I can't tell you how much of one - like you, we're all guessing.

Truly, at this stage I'd be inclined to ask Offering Publisher for a drop-dead date, and pass it on to Considering Publisher. If either of them drops you just for asking for/setting a time limit, they're not likely people you'd've had a pleasant business experience with anyway.

writera
10-31-2018, 11:22 PM
I think you've got yourself stuck in an unfortunate situation here. As a general rule, a publisher taking more than two weeks to decide isn't particularly alarming - but in this case, you've got another publisher waiting, and nobody has any deadlines. You're taking a risk by waiting on the bigger publisher, but I can't tell you how much of one - like you, we're all guessing.

Truly, at this stage I'd be inclined to ask Offering Publisher for a drop-dead date, and pass it on to Considering Publisher. If either of them drops you just for asking for/setting a time limit, they're not likely people you'd've had a pleasant business experience with anyway.

The publisher has had it for 2.5 months which I know isn't very long as you're not supposed to check in until after 3 months. But I'm guessing it's long enough. What complicated the issue was, I nudged them after only a month when I got interest from the small press. They wrote back and were VERY interested. Another month went by. Silence. Then the small press offered and I got worried about nudging again (as I'd already made the mistake of nudging too soon), so I sent another tentative nudge (after discussing it on here). They were so interested and so quick to respond to the first nudge, that I thought they'd reply. Two weeks have gone by. Complete silence. This confuses me as they were so interested initially. So I'm afraid to nudge them again quite frankly.

BUT you're right. I can't leave it hanging. So I'll contact A, ask for a deadline, then let B know.

I'm still trying to figure out why B would respond to the first nudge with such enthusiasm when there was only interest, then not respond AT ALL to the second nudge. It makes me think they must have lost interest somewhere in the ensuing month, so I don't feel super confident about nudging them again. Unless anyone could suggest a viable reason why a publisher would not respond and go radio silent but somehow still be interested or working behind the scenes to make an offer? It seems unlikely to me, as surely they'd have the courtesy to respond. I'm worried I've annoyed them as the first nudge was a mistake on my part. Overall, though, it's only been 2 emails in 2 months, and now 2 more weeks have gone by. I was hoping to leave it a bit longer, but I guess I'll have to send them a firm nudge with deadline soon.

(By the way, sorry that this thread has turned into an extension of my previous thread on here about nudging. That wasn't my intention. This has been on my mind but I was really just trying to start a general thread about response times for agents/publishers as was also contacting agents.)

lizmonster
10-31-2018, 11:36 PM
I'm still trying to figure out why B would respond to the first nudge with such enthusiasm when there was only interest, then not respond AT ALL to the second nudge.

I can't answer this question (because I honestly don't know!), but I will say in my experience Publishing Time is often very different from Writer Time. And I do think publishing has something of a culture of not saying anything until you have something definitive to say. Which is of no help at all when you're the one waiting to hear something.


(By the way, sorry that this thread has turned into an extension of my previous thread on here about nudging. That wasn't my intention. This has been on my mind but I was really just trying to start a general thread about response times for agents/publishers as was also contacting agents.)

No worries. I think we all tend to worry about this stuff, and it helps to see we're not the only ones.

As for the more general question: I've heard what Harlequin has heard, which is that two weeks is pretty normal when it comes to getting back to an agent. For a publisher, because of the aforementioned Publishing Time phenomenon, I'd proactively ask them when they needed a response.

writera
10-31-2018, 11:51 PM
This is the timeline:

Early to mid August (can't remember exact date, but about 2.5 months ago): Submitted query. Got response to say send full manuscript, which I did.

Mid September: Got strong interest from a small press. Emailed bigger publisher to say "I know you've only had this for a month, but I've gotten interest from another publisher." (In retrospect, I think this was a mistake to nudge so soon.) They responded to say they were very interested but hadn't finished reading yet and would put a rush on it and get back to me soon.

Mid October: Small press made offer, didn't give deadline. I asked for some time. They said "take your time". Emailed bigger publisher to say "I think the small press will want an answer soon. Could you let me know when you think you might be able to decide? Also I've had some interest from agents." (I didn't come right out and say I had an offer, which I probably should have and yes, I know this was stupid, but I was being tentative because I wasn't sure if they were going to offer and also was worried I'd nudged too soon.) Still was surprised to get no response.

Late October (Now): No response from bigger publisher. No check in from small press. ME: Argh! (The only logical think to do now is to contact small press, ask when they need to know by, then email bigger publisher again.) But I'm still wondering why bigger publisher hasn't responded when they said they were very interested. Clearly they are not! And also I think I feel cheeky nudging them, even with an offer, as they haven't even had the book for 3 months yet and I've already checked in twice, which makes me look like an intense desperate writer, and I know 3 months is the standard time you're supposed to wait before you even check in once!

Okay, rant over. I'll stop over thinking now and let the small press know. But if anyone has any advice on what to do with the bigger publisher, please let me know! (And again, sorry that this thread has detoured. I've been pitching this book for a lot of years and this feels like my last shot. I'm burned out.)

Harlequin
11-01-2018, 12:03 AM
Silence doesn't mean negative; it might mean they're soliciting other opinions from their sales team. They probably don't realise that you have an offer if you didn't tell them directly. Let them know that you do and they'll perhaps respond differently.

hester
11-01-2018, 12:16 AM
Regarding deadlines to other agents when you have an offer, I second (third!) everyone's advice above regarding one to two weeks, tops. I've been agented twice, and both times the agent recommended a one week turnaround. There were a couple of non-responders in the bunch, but most got back to me by the deadline.

Insofar as the big and small pubs are concerned, would you be happy going with the small pub?

writera
11-01-2018, 12:22 AM
Silence doesn't mean negative; it might mean they're soliciting other opinions from their sales team. They probably don't realise that you have an offer if you didn't tell them directly. Let them know that you do and they'll perhaps respond differently.

I was hoping this might be the case, but I still can't figure out why they wouldn't respond to me at all if so. Seems rude? Or risky on their part? But, yes, you're right about the offer.


Regarding deadlines to other agents when you have an offer, I second (third!) everyone's advice above regarding one to two weeks, tops. I've been agented twice, and both times the agent recommended a one week turnaround. There were a couple of non-responders in the bunch, but most got back to me by the deadline.

Insofar as the big and small pubs are concerned, would you be happy going with the small pub?

Honestly, not really. Not "happy", but I'd take them. I've been trying to get this book published for 5 long, hard years (and it's come very close a few times with big publishers when I was agented). This feels like the last shot for it. Given it's been so long, I'd like to get the best possible deal I could. Even the bigger publisher isn't a big publisher, they're just bigger than the small press (which is legit, but tiny and unproven). I'd take the small press as a last resource. Well, not last resource. Self-publishing (which I would do, but I don't think it would sell - if I could publish it on Kindle and it became a big seller, I'd do it but think this is unlikely) or shelving the book would be a last resource.

hester
11-01-2018, 12:41 AM
I totally get it, believe me--this business is rough! Out of curiosity, is the small pub an e-pub or print on demand? Do they pay advances, or a percentage on books sold? Do they have distribution in stores and libraries as well as online? Do they help with marketing, or are you expected to bear the brunt? (Sorry for all the questions--I wasn't sure if you'd covered these in an earlier thread, but they're all questions I wished I'd asked before I pubbed with a couple of small outfits).

My honest feeling is that if you're not totally sold on the small pub, I wouldn't go with them (again, I'm basing this on my own prior experiences--YMMV). It might be better to see how the agent offer(s) pan out--maybe, like Harlequin suggested, you can use the agent offer as leverage to nudge the larger pub?

writera
11-01-2018, 12:53 AM
I totally get it, believe me--this business is rough! Out of curiosity, is the small pub an e-pub or print on demand? Do they pay advances, or a percentage on books sold? Do they have distribution in stores and libraries as well as online? Do they help with marketing, or are you expected to bear the brunt? (Sorry for all the questions--I wasn't sure if you'd covered these in an earlier thread, but they're all questions I wished I'd asked before I pubbed with a couple of small outfits).

My honest feeling is that if you're not totally sold on the small pub, I wouldn't go with them (again, I'm basing this on my own prior experiences--YMMV). It might be better to see how the agent offer(s) pan out--maybe, like Harlequin suggested, you can use the agent offer as leverage to nudge the larger pub?

I think they're mostly epub with POD. They seem to have okay distribution though and I don't think you're expected to do all the marketing. No - or minimal - advance. As for the bigger publisher, I have no idea if they pay advances. I saw online somewhere that they do up to 10,000 but I also am not sure how accurate this is. They have much better marketing, though, and are not POD. They're distributed by an even bigger publisher. I'd be happy to go with them.

The agents just aren't biting for some reason.

I don't know what to do. I feel I've covered every publisher in existence (and I'm not joking). The book was previously agented, came really close a few times but due to one thing or another it never made it the full way, which was almost worse than it being outright rejected or slammed, as each time it seemed to generate ridiculously glorious feedback and seemed to be leading to some big deal, then...nothing! So after each round, my former agent and I would rewrite it based on feedback, and the next year we'd go on another round. This went on for three years. During this time, I tried to write another novel (which stalled at 60,000 words) and because the first book seemed to be generating such great feedback, I wrote a rather long sequel to it (which also had to be rewritten around each rewrite of the first book). Finally, my agent suggested I go with a very small press, a micro-publisher, no advance. And I was shocked. I think my agent was tired of it (and I don't blame them, I was too), but I felt going with a micropress was bad advice. We parted ways amciably (my choice) as I wanted to enter the book in some competitions. And for the last year, I've been submitting it to publishers again. And, yet again, it seems to have come very close. And now - I'm in this situation. To be honest, I can't believe it's been almost 5 years. I think I've clung to it for very personal reasons. I have tried to heed the advice to let go, write something else, but given the situation I've outlined, it's been difficult as it kept calling to be worked on and worked on and worked on. So now I just feel burned out. I feel I've wasted 5 years on a book everyone seems to want at the beginning, then don't want. I've got a long sequel to it. And a plan for a third book. Not much else to show for the 5 years, apart from a partially completed standalone novel (at 60,000 words, which I'm thinking about finishing) and a vague outline for another book. So for a lot of reasons, this publisher (the bigger one, not the small press) feels like my last shot. I know my story isn't unique. I know publishing is tough. It's just been an immensely difficult and horrible experience. It's kept me going but at the same time it's been very draining. So I think if this publisher doesn't pan out, I'll either shelve it or self-publish. But it's time to move on to something else. Sorry for ranting.

Jason
11-01-2018, 02:35 AM
I am reminded of a quote from the show Seinfeld.

One of the epsiode story arcs is that Jerry and George pitch NBC to write a show about nothing.

NBC makes them an offer...
George pushes and asks for more money...
NBC passes...

Years later, George somehow gets another face-to-face with the network to see if they still want to do the show.
Jerry says, "George, if NBC makes you an offer.....take it"

Lesson: Don't get greedy. If you are having qualms, and it's not the right fit, then by all means, pass on anything, but...

Never hold out for more - remember, they are the publishers, which means you are kind of dependent on them. They have tons of writers pitching them every day. If you pass, someone else will accept. Just sayin'...

(My 2 in a world where pennies are meaningless...)

lizmonster
11-01-2018, 02:54 AM
So, I have a slightly different tale of woe, but I do want to tell you you're not alone. I completely understand your frustration, your sadness, your wish to do something with this book that you so strongly believe in. I'm sure I'm not the only one here who empathizes with you. This business eats writers.

As for practical advice: I fall somewhere between Hester and Jason. On the one hand, having an actual publisher can be nice. On the other, if they can't do anything for you that you couldn't do for yourself, you're probably better off self-publishing - if you're the sort of person who can manage something like that.

There is another option, which you've probably considered, but just in case - you could write something new, and find another agent. This would take time (I don't now how fast you write, but I'm really slow), but it would get you back in the game with a fresh start. And if you sold the new MS, you might find a home for the old one, if not immediately then down the road a bit. There are a few writers here on AW who've done that; it's not all that unusual.

But I know how hard it is to come from a book that you believe in so much, and basically start from scratch. Just know that it's not you; it's publishing. Once you're past a certain point, the amount of luck that plays into it all is kind of shocking.

Treehouseman
11-01-2018, 09:05 AM
The entire thread really comes down to knowing what you want from the outset. If you want an agent and a big publisher, go for the agents first, and forget about small press publishers until you've burned ALL your bridges.

It bears asking: If you aren't going to accept their offer, then why submit? If you're waiting for a bigger publisher, then wait for them to get back to you before saying yes... and don't submit to anyone smaller until they've all passed.

cool pop
11-01-2018, 09:12 AM
Is this about the same situation as before when you asked if you should nudge or whatever? You seem to be running yourself crazy thinking about this. All I can say is do what you want or you feel you should. I also thought when you first posted about this you are getting too attached to the book. It sounds crazy but don't put all your hopes into one book and start getting others done so you can have backup in case things don't work out.

I and others said before on that other thread not to rush into anything with that small press or not to do anything out of impatience but it's really up to you. We can't make the decision for you. All we can do is give advice but if I were you I would chill out and go write on something else. Let things go at their own pace because all you're doing is worrying yourself to death. I can feel your heart pounding through the screen. You can't rush this process. The publishing industry is SLOW.

Also, to address some of the things you said, no you can't assume anything about the publisher. All you can do is wait until you hear from them. Two months is NOTHING. It's like two weeks in the writing world. This is why I say to work on other things so you won't be sitting here obsessing over these publishers. It's not healthy and will only stress you out. Go write other things because you will need other things to submit. What if you put all your time into selling this ONE book and it gets nowhere and you have nothing else? Keeping busy with new work is how I stayed sane back when I was hunting for publishers. I wrote constantly and it helped me to get through YEARS of querying and the waiting without driving me crazy. It was worth the wait because I scored Simon and Schuster at the end. ;)

At the end of the day, you're gonna have to decide for yourself. Do you want to take the first offer you get or do you want to wait? Remember, good things come to those who wait. That saying is very true. Especially in the writing industry.

Undercover
11-02-2018, 03:37 AM
I agree with Cool Pop. It is in fact worth the wait. I know it can be ungodly hard to wait, but writing is the only remedy. It really is. I find myself in a waiting period a LOT. Even after you have things published, you're still waiting on things. A writer is always waiting. Waiting for that certain email, waiting for reviews, waiting for the book to come out, waiting to get ideas on another book. The wait is endless. But our main job which some writers tend to forget is that we were designed to write. That is and will always be the best thing you do while you wait.

One thing I've learned is that not all agents and publishers are created equal. I wanted to get published badly in the beginning and I did it. I got published badly. Haha. My first two publishers were super crappy which lead me to find an agent. I did that. Got one, the only one that requested and she didn't help so we parted ways. The agent thing has been agonizing ever since. But I managed to work my way up to better publishers. But this is because I waited out the better ones, and disregarded those I wasn't quite interested in. The "Iffy" publishers I call them. And yes, I completely understand submitting to large and small. It's impossible to all the good ones first, then work down. Something new that's better might pop up and so on. But you really need, as I've said this before, that you have to be careful with who you go with.

I would write. No more nudging, it's still too soon. It sounds like deep in your heart you want better for this book and not the small publisher. If you've been feeling that iffy for so long, it's time to cut the ties I think. Then you're free to wait for however long you want to wait for the other publisher.

And the trick to all this is you have to write new material. I was sending out 4 novels at one point, it was crazy. But like I said, I did some hard time for it and it was truly worth it.

Atlantic12
11-02-2018, 03:45 PM
Writera,

I'm sorry you've gone through so much with your book. I so, so know what it's like to revise forever and think the book will never go anywhere. You've invested so much in it, and it seems like a waste to let it go. I definitely agree with others who advise you to wait for the one publisher you'd like to publish with. If you publish your book at a lower level than you feel it deserves, will you really feel vindicated? Is that really the closure you need?

It's your choice. But if no publishers bite, consider setting aside this book and trying again with another, fresh book that takes in the skills you've learned from revising with your agent. You have learned a ton in five years. It was not a waste because you were writing. The second book might be the path to publishing your first book. It can happen.

Sometimes it's good to give yourself permission to walk away from something that has grown toxic. When I was revising my debut novel forever, I quit once. It was very liberating, it wasn't like times when you just don't write; it wasn't a block. I literally told myself - this is it. If I never publish this book, if I never finish another book, so be it. I'll live. And three days later, I was refreshed and back to writing, short stories at first, and then my book again.

Good luck in whatever you choose to do.

Barbara R.
11-02-2018, 06:22 PM
When it comes to agents making an offer of representation, I've seen that industry standard is to ask for around 2 weeks to decide. Is this the case? Can you ever ask for longer?

Also, if a publisher makes an offer (and/or sends a contract), how long can you ask them for (either to contact another publisher or contact agents, etc.) Is it also two weeks? Or could you go longer and ask for a month?

If I were still an agent, which I'm not, I'd be offended at being asked for a month. The clear implication would be that the writer doesn't really want me as her agent, but will accept me if she can't find someone better--and this after the writer approached me! Two weeks is reasonable; it gives other agents who may be considering the book a chance to finish and decide. You can reasonably present it as a courtesy to other agents. Anything beyond 2 weeks, IMO, you're taking a chance on losing the bird in hand.