Questions about exclusives: Who should I send a revised ms to and when?

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Katrina S. Forest

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Okay, I'm in a very fortunate position to have this debate but I don't want to ruin my chances with any agents by being unprofessional in any way. So some informed advice would be much appreciated.

The situation: I have four agents who have shown interest in my current manuscript. There is the original version and a revised version, the latter of which I just recently finished.

Agent A read the original ms and is the agent who asked for the R&R. At her request, we scheduled a phone conference and spent about an hour discussing the details of the revision. The revision is complete and I'm ready to send it.

Agent B has read other full mss by me in the past but declined to offer. I reached out on a whim, after seeing her represent something that's different from mine in concept but addresses a similar issue. Agent B really liked the elevator pitch and asked for the original full, which I sent. She also asked to be contacted if I get an offer. That was seven months ago. (She did warn me that she was pretty swamped, though my inner pessimist tells me to read this as an incident of no-reply-means-no.)

Agent C requested the original full, and in reply to a standard nudge said she wasn't quite sold on it but would be open to a revision.

Agent D has not yet read either version but enthusiastically requested the ms after reading the first page at a virtual conference. I mentioned that I was in revisions and would query once they were complete.

So, my questions...

1. Does the phone conference with Agent A mean the revision should be considered exclusive? Nothing has been said about exclusivity either way. Should I offer it and if so, what time frame is reasonable? Two weeks? (I would rather not offer it at all, as I've been burned by agents who abused exclusivity in the past, but I certainly don't want to be disrespectful of the time she took to discuss these revisions in the first place.)

2. Is the phone conference/R&R enough of a reason to follow up with Agent B and offer to send the revised manuscript?

3. Likewise, if an exclusive has not been discussed one way or another, it is rude/disrespectful to send Agents C and D the revision at the same time I send it to Agent A?

For whatever it is worth, I would be happy with representation from any of these agents. One is much newer to agenting, so that is something to consider, but otherwise, I believe they would all be excellent advocates for my work. Thanks so much for the advice!
 

lizmonster

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So, I'm big on transparency, as in: if you're not sure, ask.

I'd tell Agent A you have another agent who's expressed interest in seeing a revised MS, and offer A an exclusive period. I'd make it a lot longer than 2 weeks, though - you might just ask her what she thought would be workable, but I don't think I'd suggest with anything less than 6 weeks.

Once that exclusive period is up - or if A declines an exclusive - I'd send the revision to C. I would drop B and D a note and tell them I had a revision available, but I wouldn't send it unless they explicitly requested it.
 
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Katrina S. Forest

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Thanks for the advice! I really wasn't sure what a standard time frame for an exclusive is supposed to be. In my last experience, the agent wanted indefinite exclusivity and insisted that I withdraw any fulls of the old ms I still had under consideration before details of the revision would be discussed.
 

lizmonster

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Indefinite exclusivity would be a big "no" from me. This is your business; agreeing to something open-ended is bad business. Neither would I have agreed to "withdraw" other fulls - not without an offer on the table I was planning to accept.

What constitutes a reasonable timeframe is negotiable, of course. You're not obligated to agree to the agent's timeframe, nor is she obligated to agree to yours. But a conversation shouldn't be an issue - if it is, well, that tells you something, doesn't it?
 

Katrina S. Forest

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Thanks! I did say no in that previous instance after trying and failing to reach any compromise with them. I was willing to cease querying and not show the revised manuscript to anyone until they had made a decision; I just wasn't willing to pull back on the fulls I already had out with no offer on the table. At that point, I didn't even know what they wanted revised. It could have been some forced romantic subplot that made no sense for my character for all I knew. ^_^;;

I've second-guessed that choice a lot, because nothing ever did come of the fulls I had out. But it's good to hear that others think I made the right choice there as well. This was all years ago, for whatever it's worth, so hopefully the agency has gotten more author-friendly since then.

I know I'm meandering off-topic a bit. Sorry about that.
 

lizmonster

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I've second-guessed that choice a lot, because nothing ever did come of the fulls I had out. But it's good to hear that others think I made the right choice there as well.

A bad agent is worse than no agent. A bad pub deal is worse than no pub deal. I understand the second-guessing, but you absolutely made the right choice. An open-ended exclusive is not, to my mind, a professional thing to ask. And you need your agent to be a professional.

I know I'm meandering off-topic a bit. Sorry about that.

It's your thread. Meander as you wish. :)
 

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