Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Manuscript Read Times

The other day I received an email from an author checking on a manuscript that was submitted two weeks prior. Two weeks. I'm lucky if I get to the pressing things on my to-do list in two weeks, but submissions? Doubtful.

Anyone submitting to me can clearly see on our website that it takes me 12 weeks to respond to partial and full requests. I know that's a long time, but we discussed it in detail at BookEnds and decided we'd rather list the longer end of our response times to eliminate disgruntled authors after 8 weeks. That being said, as of this writing, I'm backed up on requested material to the beginning of the year. I have one or two from last year, but that's because they are going through some second reads.

I'm slow. I'm not going to lie about that. I also have an incredibly full client list, one that keeps me very busy, so when I do sit down to read and offer representation it's because I'm really, really, really excited about the book.

When submitting I can't stress enough how important it is to pay attention to reading times posted on an agent's website. Most agents will tell you, via their websites, that it takes a certain amount of time to read queries and an even longer amount of time to read requested material. Unless you have an offer of any sort there's no reason to contact the agent before that read time is up and, even then, I would suggested buffering it by a week or two.

If an agent doesn't have reading times posted I would assume 8-12 weeks for everything you send. While I suspect some agents are faster, and most are faster than me, 8-12 weeks is probably the standard rule.



Elissa M said...

Right now my novel is out to my beta readers. They are all busy published authors, and requested at least two months to read and give feedback. "Of course," I told them. "Take all the time you need." I've got plenty to keep myself busy in the meantime.

I would much rather an agent read my novel when she's relaxed and ready for it than when she's feeling harried and pressured. Eight weeks? Twelve weeks? Whatever you need. If someone else offers representation first, I'll just let the slower readers know, and give them a week or two to decide.

I think reading times for manuscripts might be the number one reason NOT to give exclusives. An agent who wants an exclusive read better hop right to it. If she can't read and make a decision in a week (or at least contact the writer and ask for another week), she's got no business asking for an exclusive.

Unknown said...

At four books in, I'm still relatively new to the publishing world, but one thing I've learned in this industry is you have to cultivate patience. Nothing happens overnight. Ever. It's fine to be enthusiastic, but it's never acceptable to pester someone who has your work unless you just want them to turn you down flat.