Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I Feel Your Pain, Man

Miss Rejector,

What is the time frame for an agent to give a yay or nay for a ms they requested?

I met with an agent at a conference. She requested my full manuscript to be emailed to her, which I did. That was 6 weeks ago. I’m worried that the internet ate my email and she never got it. I don’t want to be an ass about it; I’m grateful she even wanted to see it. But should I contact her? Maybe send a note asking if she got it? Is 6 weeks too short a time?

You can contact her to see if she got it, but she probably has and probably hasn't read it. (Still, it's best to be on the safe side with email submissions) Six weeks, sadly, is not a long enough time for most agents to look at a full. Not that it takes them six weeks to read a novel, but they're not only reading the novel but actually considering taking this person on as a client, which is a major financial endeavor for them. They have to feel sure about it. That takes time.

Or at least, that's what I tell myself as I wait for a response from an agent on my full. I gave my mind four weeks to not get anxious, but man, this is getting brutal now that I'm into the second month.


Anonymous said...

Would it not be appropriate for you to sub your manuscript to *your* agent?

Just curious - and feeling slightly ignorant of the proper etiquette concerning such things ...

The Rejecter said...

No sensible agent would take on an employee as a client. That would be completely awkward. Also, agents generally don't like their clients around unless they need to talk to them.

Former employees is a different thing, though. I did contact an old boss, but she couldn't do it (had too many books with the editor I wanted already).

Anonymous said...

That's kind of funny. I had a sudden vision of your agent as W.C.Fields, hunched over thier desk, gnawing a cigar - Go away boy, you bother me! But sensible, I suppose too.

Good luck though.

The Rejecter said...


Craig Steffen said...


You have a full out for consideration? That's terrific! Congratulations! Good luck!

Just out of curiosity, how many rejections did that particular novel get before the current almost-success state?

The Rejecter said...

I'll be honest and say 2, but it's because they were busy and didn't want the project. It's a highly marketable niche genre (I'm not telling, thank you very much) and I followed the buying patterns of the major publishers for about a year and basically wrote a query to someone saying, "Here's the market info on how much publishers are eating this stuff up. Here's my novel, and the req letter from my professor. Is this your type of project?" (I knew the agent personally) She said she had to see the chapters (of course) and liked the partial very much. Whether she likes the full enough to get behind it is another matter. Yes, there are perks to working in publishing, but they'll only get you so far. Now my writing has to stand on its own as being a worthwhile endeavor (financially) for her.

Unknown said...

Six weeks is nothing! I've been waiting for four months to hear back on a full request, and I'm about ready to crawl out of my own skin!

Anonymous said...

I have a full manuscript at one hugely successful agent's office for the last five years. You'd know the name.

I was a well-behaved writer. Didn't bother her for a while. Then, I nudged -- I emailed at six months. I called at the year mark. I wrote a follow-up note. No response. If she said she didn't want it that would be fine. If she said the dog had eaten it that would be fine. Nothing.

I met this agent at a conference, and she asked for the full. More than asked. She urged me to send the full asap, as at the time [cough, cough], it was a hot genre.

At 18 months, I decided she was a jerk and put it out of my mind as a business decision and moved on. But I'll never forget her behavior. When other writers I know share their list of proposed agents, I share my story. With names.

Oh, and yes. I have an agent now, and a book deal. The book in question though is sadly out of date.

Anonymous said...

I had a partial requested at a conference, to be sent via email. I sent, then waited a month and sent a VERY brief and polite note just asking if it had been received.

It had not.

I didn't word my note as anything like "when will you get back to me?" but just as "did it arrive?". I have re-sent it, and she confirmed that it arrived this time. I wait again, but at least now I know the pages got there.

If the agent didn't receive it, you're waiting for nothing.

I suppose my email might have annoyed some agents, but I think it's not unreasonable to ask.


MaNiC MoMMy™ said...

When I was searching for an agent, I felt it was completely acceptable to send a follow-up email. Agents are human, they misplace stuff, they forget things. It happens all the time. Don't be afraid to send a quick email asking if they received.

Rejecter--good luck with the agent search! I think it's neat that you are helping writers via your blog, and also that you are in the same process as most of your readers so you know what it takes!

Deb said...

Interesting, isn't it, that most of us acknowledge they take 5-10 minutes to reject a piece (the first page is enough), but 6-12 months to send the "no thanks" notification?

Let's do the time-warp again...

Anonymous said...

There is an agent, I forget which one, who asks for the first five pages and a one-page synopsis. So I guess you're right. They know in that short an amount if it's right for them or not.

Anonymous said...

As someone who has spent years wading through slush (we accept unsolicited submissions -- first 50 pages only), I have always responded within 6 months to reject, accept, or say "we need more time". This is included in the house's submissions guidelines, which are posted on the web.

To deb: The publishing house I worked at received 900 unsolicited submissions last year. Plus agented ones on top of that. And, we had to publish 18 titles that year. Not a bad time warp if you ask me...

I think it's fair to ensure your ms. was received after 6 weeks, but don't even think about putting your asshat on until 6 months.

Anonymous said...

Over a year ago, I sent a polite, did-you-get-it? email 2 months after sending a full that the agent had claimed he was "very anxious to read."

Sent another polite email at the four-month mark.

Never heard back about either. Never expect to. Sleezy is as sleezy does. I don't care who they are!

Deb said...

Anon, thanks for the correction. FYI, I don't actually own a hat like that. I advise newbie writers to take whatever the publisher's web site says about response time, and double it, and don't even let out a peep 'til that time's past.

Deborah Niemann said...

Almost two years ago, I received an email from an agent saying that my query had been misplaced for TWO YEARS and that I was probably already "happily published," but that if I was not, please contact her and give her an update on what I was doing. I did contact her. She asked for my book proposal, then responded via email that she thought it should be treated differently. I told her that I had a couple different spins on the topic, and I never heard from her again. It was weird because it seemed like we were in the middle of a conversation, and she just dropped off the planet.

Anonymous said...

Oh God, this is a very depressing post + comments.

"don't even think about putting your asshat on until 6 months"

Argh! Six months?!

I should know better. It took ten months in between submitting my first novel and the publisher ringing me up to say they'd like to publish it. But I feel like it should be different this time...

Of course, I know better to think that already being a published novelist would make any difference.

But this time, I have had friendly email contact with four agents, four of whom have expressed a distinct eagerness to see the book. One of whom contacted ME and asked to see it. One of whom was already my agent, but our contract expired when she moved agencies.

So I sent it. Three weeks ago. And I am going mad with impatience, and people are saying I must wait MONTHS. Please, no! Not again!

Oh well. Guess it's not time to give them a nudge yet then.