Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Response Times

Last year, I subbed a YA paranormal to several agents who’ve yet to respond, as follows: 1 in March, 3 in May, 3 in August and 1 in September. That’s 8 outstanding agent subs. Here’s the rub: I hired a freelance editor and completely rewrote this book. The new version is out with 3 agents, all of whom requested it within the past month or so. In retrospect, I should have sent status queries, but at this late date, and with the book significantly changed, it feels weird to send an email – Hey, you’ve had this since last March – whatdya think? (There’s also the issue that I should definitely be more assertive.) My question is two-fold. If I receive an offer, do I contact those who’ve had it over six months, or assume they’re a no and move on? If I don’t receive an offer from anyone, I’d like to submit to other agents within a few of the agencies who’re hatching it, but can’t until I get a no. I’ve thought about writing to the very old subs and withdrawing, but half expect them to say, Who Are You? I know a lot of agents don’t reply to queries, but didn’t realize there are some who never respond to full manuscript submissions. Any advice?

I don’t know if this will help you any, but one of the things that first struck me with this question is the fact that agents deal with this situation too. It’s true. While typically agents get fairly good feedback from editors, there’s always the one or two who never seem to reply to submissions or only reply if you have an offer. So when do you just finally give up? How assertive do you need to be? How assertive is too assertive? While there are no universal answers to these questions, I can give you my advice on how I think you should handle the situation.

I would get in touch with the eight agents who have your book. I assume that when you say outstanding subs you mean partials or fulls. Definitely push them for answers. If all you’ve sent them is queries, consider it rejected and move on. Sure, some of it was a year ago, but it’s never too late to shame someone into an answer.

If you receive an offer and one of those eight agents is someone you’d really like to work with, I would definitely contact them. What I would do is get in touch, let them know you have an offer on the book they’ve had since March, mention that it has since been revised, and ask if they would like to see the revised version for consideration.

As for sending to other agents within the agency and pulling the submission, that’s sort of tricky. I think what I’d do is push for an answer. If you don’t get one after a couple of requests, I think you could send to another agent in the agency, but be honest. Let them know you previously sent it to such and such a year or more ago, but have not received an answer and have since thoroughly revised the book. That way you aren’t trying to be sneaky and the agent can make a decision based on how they operate in house.

Hope that helps and I hope I’m not one of those agents sitting on material. I just haven’t been able to catch up like I’d been hoping.

Best of luck.