Are agents taking forever to reply?

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Tarley

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I totally get this. Everyone's having a rough time right now. I should have been clearer about my experience...my being ghosted on fulls and an R&R all occurred BEFORE the pandemic, so I am not sure of the reasons behind the silence. But since the pandemic began, I have sent out a handful of queries and the response times have been all over the place, which is understandable. In *this* day and age, I wouldn't CNR any query too quickly. Everyone is overwhelmed.
 

lizmonster

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This question could probably warrant a new thread, but does anyone else have trouble writing while you're waiting for a book to be picked up? I know I should write no matter what, but this book feels like a weight around my neck that I can't shake off.

YES. It's like I can't process any creativity until I know the fate of the thing I just spent all that energy producing.
 
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MercyMe

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This question could probably warrant a new thread, but does anyone else have trouble writing while you're waiting for a book to be picked up? I know I should write no matter what, but this book feels like a weight around my neck that I can't shake off.

YES. After awhile I have to start picking at a new idea until it becomes the new love of my life. I'm sort of in that place right now.

Re Agents not responding to fulls or partials: That's a practice that has to stop. I wish agents realized how heartless it is not to respond to requested material. Even a wretched form is better than dead silence. I would rather an agent has a policy of no-response-means-no to queries and leave themselves time to respond to requested fulls and partials.
 

Sonya Heaney

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This question could probably warrant a new thread, but does anyone else have trouble writing while you're waiting for a book to be picked up? I know I should write no matter what, but this book feels like a weight around my neck that I can't shake off.

Same as everyone else: YES! I wish I hadn't sat around wasting time while I waited for my editor to get back to me on my last book, because now I'm in a huge rush to finish my current one by the end of the month. This is actually something I'm planning to work on in the future: to just write instead of worrying about a different manuscript's fate.
 

Medazza

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(My first post!)
Definitely slower for the full time agents. I’ve had requests for a full MS I subbed in February come in the last week or so.
Full MS I have sent have taken 4 months without a response.
I keep wanting to chase up but I fear that doing so just encourages a rejection!
 

Beccorban

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Here we are in November and it's just as bad. I have sent out quite a few queries, and whilst I usually get my share of rejections relatively quickly, I have had absolutely 0 response in about 2 months of waiting. Very odd.
 

zmethos

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I've sent out 8 queries in the past three weeks and had one response (a form rejection with some Mad Lib aspects of their having filled in a couple blanks on what they liked before saying "just didn't connect"). Now, as we head towards the holidays, I anticipate even longer waits for replies. I probably won't send out more queries until after the new year.
 

Beccorban

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If it's any consolation, I just got a form rejection (literally today) from an agent I queried on 10th June. Obviously it should never take that long, but at least they replied.

Hooray.
 

Challenger007

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Well, quarantine is a quarantine, but there should be some measure in the duration of consideration of applications. I've found a new job for half a year already, and only recently received a couple of answers. How it works? We received replies to the applications that I sent back in March. Logics? There is no logic.
 

onesecondglance

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Here's a question on this subject. An agent I queried sent an automatic response to my submission that said I should "expect a response within 4 weeks". The same timescale is listed on the submissions page on their website, which was updated in the last couple of weeks. In a recent Q&A the agent said they respond to every query they get (i.e. it's not a "no response means no" agency).

It's been a little over six weeks and I've heard nothing. How long should I wait before I nudge? Eight weeks since sub? Never?
 

lizmonster

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Replying to osg in #39:

1) It's perfectly fine to nudge when a place has claimed they'll respond. Given the year, I might give it 8-10 weeks, but a nudge is completely professional.

2) IME a fair percentage of the "we respond to every query" agencies don't. Sometimes they haven't updated their web sites; sometimes they just get overwhelmed. Either way it's deeply frustrating for queriers - but it's not personal, and not specific to one sub.
 

lizmonster

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Thanks liz. I'm trying not to be too impatient, but the silence is starting to get to me.

It is a deeply frustrating process that isn't optimized for writers. :Hug2:

Someone once suggested to me I mark my calendar with the date I would nudge. Having a concrete plan helped me push aside the daily anxiety.
 

maryland

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Even before the great Covid disaster, the 'best' agents stated that they would take three months to read the 50pages/three chapters of the initial query. I wondered why it took so long, as then the request for a partial/full MSS would make it about a year - even if you were a success!
There is obviously a gap somewhere here, either too much work for agents or the delay is used as a species of gatekeeping.
 

lizmonster

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Even before the great Covid disaster, the 'best' agents stated that they would take three months to read the 50pages/three chapters of the initial query. I wondered why it took so long, as then the request for a partial/full MSS would make it about a year - even if you were a success!

I don't think there are any "official" response times across the industry. Each agent/agency is going to be different, and yes, it varies by workload. Some agencies will give you expected timeframes, and it does seem to be accepted that three months is what you wait before nudging if the agent has pages.

And it doesn't always take that long. Last time I started querying in April, had positive responses by July, and was contracted by early December (although the verbal agreement happened sooner). So about 7 months from first query to representation.

There is obviously a gap somewhere here, either too much work for agents or the delay is used as a species of gatekeeping.

Honestly, I don't think it's gatekeeping. Most agents are thrilled to come across work they think they'll want to rep. But the act of selling books for people they're already contracted with takes a lot of time and energy. Queries just aren't at the top of the stack, and with the volume they're dealing with, no matter how proactive they are it's going to take time.

It's all much faster than what happens after you sell a book to a publisher, though. :)
 

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I don't think there are any "official" response times across the industry. Each agent/agency is going to be different, and yes, it varies by workload. Some agencies will give you expected timeframes, and it does seem to be accepted that three months is what you wait before nudging if the agent has pages.

And it doesn't always take that long. Last time I started querying in April, had positive responses by July, and was contracted by early December (although the verbal agreement happened sooner). So about 7 months from first query to representation.



Honestly, I don't think it's gatekeeping. Most agents are thrilled to come across work they think they'll want to rep. But the act of selling books for people they're already contracted with takes a lot of time and energy. Queries just aren't at the top of the stack, and with the volume they're dealing with, no matter how proactive they are it's going to take time.

It's all much faster than what happens after you sell a book to a publisher, though. :)
Well said, lizmonster.
 

mccardey

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A Very Long Time Ago, Children, before any of you were born, I wrote a book for kids in the 10-14 age group (this predates the current MG classifications) in about six months. I sent it to my agent who had an offer for me by the end of the fortnight, and the book came out with posters and book-bays in the bookshops and a cocktail party launch with accommodation provided, and reviews and interviews and and oh! just everything! before I'd even started my Christmas Shopping.

It was my first-ever time writing a book and I thought OMG! I'm nailing this - and just seventeen years later, I'd finished writing my second book, and my agent had died and it took about six months to get another one, and to sell the book and everything was different then and guess what it didn't even sell out its stupid advance.

Life, guys. Life is weird place to be. And it's a very tough time right now to be a writer. So be brave, don't lose hope and above all be nice to each other, because we're the only ones who truly understand.

This has been my TedTalk. Thank you, and tip the bar staff.
 

Fuchsia Groan

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A Very Long Time Ago, Children, before any of you were born, I wrote a book for kids in the 10-14 age group (this predates the current MG classifications) in about six months. I sent it to my agent who had an offer for me by the end of the fortnight, and the book came out with posters and book-bays in the bookshops and a cocktail party launch with accommodation provided, and reviews and interviews and and oh! just everything! before I'd even started my Christmas Shopping.

It was my first-ever time writing a book and I thought OMG! I'm nailing this - and just seventeen years later, I'd finished writing my second book, and my agent had died and it took about six months to get another one, and to sell the book and everything was different then and guess what it didn't even sell out its stupid advance.

Life, guys. Life is weird place to be. And it's a very tough time right now to be a writer. So be brave, don't lose hope and above all be nice to each other, because we're the only ones who truly understand.

This has been my TedTalk. Thank you, and tip the bar staff.
I’m feeling this story. My first book came out five years ago after a whole decade of writing and querying. I was in a YA debut group. Some of the folks I debuted with have gone on to incredible success. They’re on the NYT list; thousands of people like their Insta posts. Others who had huge publishing deals, much larger than mine, don’t have a second or third book out yet. I didn’t do so well, but I managed to con the publishing industry into buying three of my books. ( ;) I probably shouldn’t phrase it that way, but it does feel that way to me.)

Life is weird and publishing is weird and it all takes forever, except when it unexpectedly starts happening very fast, which is something most writers aren’t in a position to predict or control. I try to savor the good moments because they may not come again.
 

KingM

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The publishing industry isn't for the impatient, that's for sure. Every step of the way seems to take forever. I do my best not to contribute to this problem, but I'm answering my own queries about four weeks out at this point, which is not ideal.
 

KingM

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The 4th column on my query spreadsheet is the date 3 months after I sent the query. If the agent doesn't reply by that date I presume they're not interested and move on. It is what it is.
I think this is a good rule of thumb. It's important to remember that these are unsolicited queries, so you're not technically owed an answer, although I personally think agents should try to answer all queries that fit within their stated guidelines. That's my own personal goal, at least.

Where I bristle a little is when people (editors as well as agents) request material and then answer via silence. That's a case where people feel like they're left dangling, and it's kind of rude, in my opinion.
 
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