Are agents taking forever to reply?

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rosepetal720

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Has anyone else noticed that agents are taking FOREVER to reply?

I submitted three fulls to agents in January, and none of them have responded. I sent them two nudges each, and still no response. Six months isn't extremely long for a full manuscript, but all three of them? And no one is responding to my nudges?

The agents on twitter insist that they're still working at the same pace, but that seems impossible with every thing that's going on this year.

Has anyone else noticed a slow-down?
 

Sonya Heaney

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No matter what anyone says, it IS slower. A LOT slower. I have a publisher, and things I would have got news about within a fortnight before the pandemic? It's now taking months. It's taken me until now to come to terms with the stress it is causing, but ... yeah. It's not just you.
 

screenscope

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Agents on the whole have never been particularly good at responding, but, yes, I think they are even worse these days.
 

mccardey

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Agents on the whole have never been particularly good at responding, but, yes, I think they are even worse these days.

Well, that's not fair. Agents are people, and they're dealing with coronavirus just like all of us. A lot of them are also re-looking at race in their stables.

Good agents have always been good at responding - otherwise they'd be out of business. If things are slower at the moment, take a look around. Everything is slow at the moment.
 

rosepetal720

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Mccardey: I agree. My only complaint is how many agents are saying that things aren't different when they are. One of the agents who has my book announced on Twitter that he was going to double down and get caught up on all his work, but I still haven't heard from him.
 

mccardey

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Mccardey: I agree. My only complaint is how many agents are saying that things aren't different when they are. One of the agents who has my book announced on Twitter that he was going to double down and get caught up on all his work, but I still haven't heard from him.
Everything is slower *hug* and people are just trying to go step-by-step.
 

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I sympathize with this so much! It does suck to hear "business is happening!" and then...you still never get your turn. I do want to extend a lot of compassion to everyone dealing with *gestures vaguely in 2020*. COVID and police brutality especially. That includes agents who have to balance a lot right now. It is also true that the discussion around agents becoming slower to respond predates most of this. COVID is only being made worse. I've heard agents talk about things taking longer, I've heard it from writers, and I've experienced it myself. It's emotionally exhausting to get excited about a request, then go onto Query Tracker and find out the agent habitually ghosts! I am a little worried that "ghosting on the full" is going to become a professional norm, even though it is harmful to writers. It keeps us emotionally on the hook and often it bars us from subbing to someone else at the same agency (yes, I know you can pull a full, but that's an intimidating prospect). Don't even get me started on agents who request material but only read it if another agent offers (grump, grump).

Point is, yes, things are slower, that really sucks, but I think we can still keep these issues (respectfully!) in the conversation. For the sake of a healthy professional ecosystem. Compassion is key.

And to throw agents a bone, editors are slow af too.

- - - Updated - - -

I sympathize with this so much! It does suck to hear "business is happening!" and then...you still never get your turn. I do want to extend a lot of compassion to everyone dealing with *gestures vaguely in 2020*. COVID and police brutality especially. That includes agents who have to balance a lot right now. It is also true that the discussion around agents becoming slower to respond predates most of this. COVID is only being made worse. I've heard agents talk about things taking longer, I've heard it from writers, and I've experienced it myself. It's emotionally exhausting to get excited about a request, then go onto Query Tracker and find out the agent habitually ghosts! I am a little worried that "ghosting on the full" is going to become a professional norm, even though it is harmful to writers. It keeps us emotionally on the hook and often it bars us from subbing to someone else at the same agency (yes, I know you can pull a full, but that's an intimidating prospect). Don't even get me started on agents who request material but only read it if another agent offers (grump, grump).

Point is, yes, things are slower, that really sucks, but I think we can still keep these issues (respectfully!) in the conversation. For the sake of a healthy professional ecosystem. Compassion is key.

And to throw agents a bone, editors are slow af too.
 

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Well, that's not fair. Agents are people, and they're dealing with coronavirus just like all of us. A lot of them are also re-looking at race in their stables.

Good agents have always been good at responding - otherwise they'd be out of business. If things are slower at the moment, take a look around. Everything is slow at the moment.

I've been querying agents with one work or another for more than 20 years and most agents during that entire time - good or whatever - don't acknowledge queries or respond to them. It's not a question of fairness, just something I observe and accept. Agents, like writers, are busy people, I get that.

Since the virus hit I have only queried agents still actively seeking queries, but apart from a couple of nice responses and requests, it's far worse than last year and early this year in the response stakes.
 
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Marian Perera

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I am a little worried that "ghosting on the full" is going to become a professional norm

It's happened to me so often that I now assume that even if I send requested fulls or requested revisions, I will not hear back from agents unless we have a signed contract.

As screenscrope said, it's something I accept. It's just the new reality, and I hope my saying this doesn't come across as my being unfair or nasty to agents.
 
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rosepetal720

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The problem is, I've decided that if these three agents say no to the full manuscript, I'm going to self-publish. It's been a long time since I started working on this book and I'm ready to move on. If the agents aren't going to reply to my nudges, how long should I wait before I give up on them?
 

Woollybear

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You probably need to see what others have experienced with those agents in your shoes. Query tracker keeps this sort of information. I recommend checking the agents on there, one by one.
 

lizmonster

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The problem is, I've decided that if these three agents say no to the full manuscript, I'm going to self-publish. It's been a long time since I started working on this book and I'm ready to move on. If the agents aren't going to reply to my nudges, how long should I wait before I give up on them?

I don't think this is a question other people can answer. Six months is a long time, but not unusually long. It's going to depend on you and how much you're weighing getting an agent vs. getting the book out via self pub.

I do know I've had discussions with a lot of people - some in publishing - about how weird time seems to pass now. Like they feel productive, but at the end of the week when they look back at what they've accomplished, they didn't get nearly as much done as they'd thought.

That doesn't mean you have to wait, but yeah, it's a thing right now, and it's pretty widespread.
 

litdawg

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Well, something is going on with agents because I've received a few form rejects in the past week for queries I CNR'd eight months ago.

Agents have a variety of working conditions. Some work in offices, some work at home, some work full-time, some part-time. All of these work situations are affected differently by pandemic conditions.
 

angeliz2k

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I've not had great experiences with agents as a whole, and I'm embittered by those experiences, so I have to take my own attitudes and feelings with a grain of salt, so everyone else should as well. But I have a lot of difficulty with the "well, agents are busy" argument, or the idea that we as writers have to be understanding. Everyone is busy. I'm busy. You're probably busy. They're busy. That doesn't mean that agents shouldn't act professionally, and to me that means responding to communications. Do things slip through the cracks? Inevitably, yes, and that doesn't upset me. Nor does an agent here or there who is non-communicative. But I am irritated that it seems to be the industry norm to ghost writers not only on queries (understandable, even if it's a bad practice to not respond to queries--it doesn't take long to send a form reject and it saves the writer a lot of uncertainty) but also on partials and fulls, for which there is no excuse. I don't care how busy an agent is. If he or she requests a partial or full, they should respond. All writers should be treated with respect by agents. If they are overloaded, they should not request material. It's disrespectful to ghost writers. Our time is valuable, too.

Of course, the pandemic is causing all kinds of havoc. So things are going to be a bit delayed. NYC, where many agencies and publishers are based, was hit hard by the pandemic. And at the moment, we're all examining our own conduct in the light of Black Lives Matter. The future is a bit bit murky for everyone, to some degree. A little patience is needed. This said by a lady who is currently querying and whose stock of patience is ebbing, try though she might to keep everything in perspective.

My apologies for the rant. I obviously have Feelings about this.
 

rosepetal720

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So things are going to be a bit delayed. NYC, where many agencies and publishers are based, was hit hard by the pandemic. And at the moment, we're all examining our own conduct in the light of Black Lives Matter. The future is a bit bit murky for everyone,

That's actually part of my concern. I'm a white author who wrote about an African American woman. Don't get me wrong; the own voices movement is fantastic, and I'm thrilled that more black authors and artists are being heard. But because of it, I can't imagine any publisher would pick up my book right now, and agents aren't going to represent an unmarketable book. I feel like I'm wasting all my time waiting for rejections that I know are coming.

I could be over paranoid. The agents did request my book, after all, so they must not think my race is a problem. Still, they requested it in January, and the world is a very different place now. I agree with Angeliz; I wish they would just respond to my nudges so I can decide what to do with my life. It's kind of important!
 

Marian Perera

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That's actually part of my concern. I'm a white author who wrote about an African American woman.

There's another white author on this board who wrote a book where a Black woman was the main character. I read some of the reviews of the book on Goodreads, and while most were positive, the ones that weren't usually pointed this out as something they really disliked about the book. One reviewer said it felt like cultural appropriation, and that a space which could have been filled by a Black author was instead taken by a white one.

Make of that what you will.
 

rosepetal720

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Marian Perera: I can't disagree with any of that. I'd rather read an ownvoices story than one written by an outsider, too. I just really felt like I was meant to write this story. I guess following your heart doesn't always work out. If it did, we wouldn't need a Rejection and Dejection forum!
 

rosepetal720

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You probably need to see what others have experienced with those agents in your shoes. Query tracker keeps this sort of information. I recommend checking the agents on there, one by one.

This was very helpful. One of the agents who requested my book never responds to authors, so I might as well give up on him. Now, if I could just hear back from the other two...it's been seven months and I am soooo ready to move on!
 

CJSimone

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Has anyone else noticed that agents are taking FOREVER to reply?

I submitted three fulls to agents in January, and none of them have responded. I sent them two nudges each, and still no response. Six months isn't extremely long for a full manuscript, but all three of them? And no one is responding to my nudges?

The agents on twitter insist that they're still working at the same pace, but that seems impossible with every thing that's going on this year.

Has anyone else noticed a slow-down?

Yep, slower.

I always feel like anything under 6 months could still work out, but anything over that I CNR. By six months, agents who are still interested tend to send an email saying they're still considering it and asking if it's still available (or at least in my experience).

Best with it, whether you land an agent or self-publish.

CJ
 

Tarley

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I don't care how busy an agent is. If he or she requests a partial or full, they should respond. All writers should be treated with respect by agents. If they are overloaded, they should not request material. It's disrespectful to ghost writers. Our time is valuable, too.

This! I've been ghosted on a number of partials and fulls, but can top it with being ghosted on an R&R! Self-publishing looks better and better every day.
 

Calla Lily

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This! I've been ghosted on a number of partials and fulls, but can top it with being ghosted on an R&R! Self-publishing looks better and better every day.

*puts on pedantic hat*

The best answer is to do what's best for your career, whether it's trad pub or self pub, but making a choice out of frustration is not a smart business decision.

The world is on fire and time no longer has any meaning. Everyone needs a little extra patience and kindness.
 

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Keep in mind that agents are now working from home.

They don't have support staff/assistants/admins.

They are likely on a much slower connection than they would have had at work.

They may also now be dealing with home schooling and child care.

Be patient. Good books don't get stale.
 

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