Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Requested Full

A recent post, Maintaining Enthusiasm, garnered a number of great comments and questions and gave me a lot more to talk about. One poster asked (actually in response to another poster):

Does that mean if you wanted to read a full and it arrives, does it get a quick read, or is there a teetering stack of "fulls," just like partials and queries? Thanks! :)

And another poster asked:

Do you (and editors) read a full manuscript all in one go (i.e., one at a time) or do you usually have several on the go at once?

In response to that first question, well, actually a little of both. Let me tell you how I work. I can’t guarantee all agents work exactly this way, but I would bet everyone does something similar. When my mail comes I sort through it. I pull out all of those partials that sound particularly interesting to me and any fulls that I’ve requested that still sound interesting to me. Now, there is one caveat to this, and this refers back to previous posts. Your material only gets pulled out if you remind me why it was requested. More often than not requested partials and fulls have landed in the “slush” pile simply because the letter wasn’t enticing and didn’t remind me that I requested it. Or, it mentioned that this was material I requested but didn’t tell me anything else—anything that would make me want to read it quickly. When the material arrives I still need to be excited to see it; therefore, whatever you put in your query letter that excited me should go in all follow-up correspondence so that I grab it just as quickly the second and third time around.

Now, the trouble with this system is that when things start to pile up and I go a few weeks without reading submissions, my “read this quick” pile gets larger than I like. So there is a stack of fulls just like partials and queries, but it is usually not teetering.

As for the second question, usually I prefer to read the full in one sitting (which is probably why it can take me so long to get to) and I don’t like to have more than one going at a time. My preference is to give it my full attention. If I feel it’s too easy to put down to start something else, it’s unlikely I love it enough to want to represent it.



Anonymous said...

If one were lucky enough to get a request for a partial -- would it help to include a copy of the original query (and refer to this attachment in the cover leter)?

Anonymous said...

I have only started writing seriously in the last six months and your agency was the first I contacted with a query letter. I was fortunate enough for you to request a partial, which I gladly sent. I have to say that a big reason why I feel my query garnered any attention was the interactive and helpful nature of your website, as well as your blog which I read on a daily basis.

BookEnds, A Literary Agency said...


Jacky did a great post on exactly how you should approach this http://bookendslitagency.blogspot.com/2006/06/question-of-month-part-2.html

Thanks John, that's great to hear.


Anonymous said...

Very enlightening -- thanks! I have two fulls out right now, and the waiting is killing me! But I didn't put anything at all enticing in the cover letter -- very plain and to the point: "This is the ms you requested"...sigh. It's been three weeks with both, I believe. (I know, I know, that's not very long ;)

Anonymous said...

I remember reading that particular blog of Jacky's a few times over before I sent in my requested partial! Again, this blog is always helpful.

Unknown said...

What I like best about this blog is the interactive nature and "window" into agenting. Er...I've always wondered, and it's kind of goofy, what does a "stack" look like. I mean a picture would be cool. You always have this mental image of this cave-like place with papers pushed up against the walls.

And I can never get through books I put down once either, they just go into my "to give away" pile.

Anonymous said...

How could a writer possibly know why a query interested you? Most agents say something along the lines of, "Please send along 50 pages...blah, blah, blah."

So, if you send a partial and there is no obvious reason (to the writer) as to why this query piqued your interest, it would be hard for an author to remind you of what that was.

I usually send along the agent's answer to my query which usually has my query beneath it. And a short cover letter that won't take up much of the agent's time.

Am I missing something here?

Diana Peterfreund said...

I think "what interested the agent" is the query letter itself.

Just include a copy of that. Whatever it takes to refresh their memories.

Anonymous said...

I sent a query based on your submission guidelines, enclosing a query, synopsis and the first 50 pages. That was at the end of April. I would NEVER become impatient after only 3 weeks!

Which reminds me... after five months, should I wait longer, or should I re-query? After all, the rejection could have been lost in the mail, even though I was careful to order American stamps, etc.

I am a devoted lurker on Miss Snark's and Evil Editor's blogs, and now that MS was kind enough to direct us to your blog, I'll check here often for your great information.

BookEnds, A Literary Agency said...


If it was sent at the end of April I can almost guarantee that we still have it and are working hard to catch up. That being said, I would absolutely recommend that you email the agent you submitted to and ask for a status report. You never know--your submission could have been lost, the letter from us could have been lost, or we are just painfully slow.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Jessica! I remain hopeful, and I'll send along a follow-up email just in case.