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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Manuscript Request Etiquette

Getting multiple requests to read either a partial or your full manuscript can be a wonderful, confusing, and scary thing. It is a problem I sincerely hope every one of my aspiring author friends has. Now that I've wished that upon you, how do you deal with it? The good news is there is a sort of etiquette to it, the bad news, as you probably already know, is that every agent is different.

We'll start with partials. If you are lucky enough to have multiple agents ask for a partial of your work (which is typically 30-50 pages depending on the agent's preference) then you know you're on the right track. You don't have to notify agents that someone else has a partial of your work but it certainly wouldn't hurt anything. In fact, it may help. If they're aware that someone else has requested it then they know others have shown interest and they may get to it faster. If you aren't sure how much they want when they ask for a partial don't be afraid to ask.

Things change dramatically when someone asks for your full manuscript. This isn't just a casual read in one sitting kind of situation anymore. Now the agent is really interested and has committed to investing a good chunk of their time to your work. Do not take full requests lightly. If you get a full you don’t need to tell everyone else who has a partial of it, but again it can't hurt. However, if you get more than one person requesting your full manuscript you need to tell all the agents who have requested the full that it is out to other agents.

Some agents might ask for an exclusive look at the full. This means you cannot send another full out to anyone else who requests it until that agent gets back to you, if you agree. You have the power to say no. If someone else already has the full just tell the agent who is asking that an exclusive is not available because someone else already has it. I'm on the fence about exclusive requests. If you really believe that particular agent would be a great match for you, then I say go for it. But if other agents are asking and you want to keep your options open, then you can say not at this time. Multiple offers is a post for another time. Best of luck!

16 comments:

  1. This is awesome, Heather - so, so helpful. Thanks - you rock! :-)

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  2. You're welcome, thank you Shannon!

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  3. Love your blog Heather. Thanks for the etiquette tips, they really help with the enormous learning curve in the world of writing.

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  4. You're very welcome! Thank you for stopping by Leslie. Glad I could be helpful!

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  5. Always great content, Heather! I'm looking forward to the day that I have such a nice problem--an exclusive full manuscript request. Nice.

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  6. Great tips here! It's a good thing for querying writers to know!

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  7. Excellent subject. One other possibility if an agent asks for an exclusive (a situation I dream of regularly!) is to grant it if you think they might be a good match, but put a tight time limit on it. A month would probably be acceptable to most, although from what I've heard they tend to ask for at least two months. Thanks so much for the reminders about when to let agents know other agents are looking--very helpful.

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  8. This happened for my last ms (all three situations).

    I didn't realize you should tell other agents if you have requested material out. I just assumed they already figured that if they requested it then probably so did someone else. All they care is that you inform them if someone makes an offer to rep you. That's the only thing that will get them to move faster on it. ;)

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  9. Great points here! And what a wonderful thing you've wished upon us. :) You are so right. Wonderful, confusing and scary all mixed into one. LOL

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  10. I am beginning to despair of hearing again for multiple requests from agents. Sigh. But thanks for helping me out with the polite response to make.

    Please, come check out my story that has been selected for Thursday's 13 DAYS OF HORROR post at Erin Cole's LISTEN TO THE VOICES blog :

    http://erincolelive.blogspot.com/

    Thanks. I wish us both luck in our publication dreams. You're much farther down that road than I am, but still I wish the wind at your back all the way, Roland

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  11. Thank you J.M.! My fingers are crossed that it will happen for you very soon!

    Thank you Lydia, I'm glad it was helpful!

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  12. Excellent point Linda! A time limit is a fantastic idea! And I think most agents would be very happy with that as long as it is adequate. A month sounds pretty good!

    That's awesome Stina! Congrats! If an agent knows others have requested it shows them interest is already being generated. Can't hurt!

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  13. It is many things all at once isn't it Melissa?!

    Hang in there Roland, with your fabulous writing it is only a matter of time before it happens. It can get discouraging though, I know all about that. I will definitely check out your story. Thank you for the link! Everyone go check it out, Roland's stories rock!

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  14. Thank you Heather! I certainly hope we all will have this problem very soon. And now we'll be prepared. Fingers still crossed for you!

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  15. I hope you do too! Thank you so much Karlene! News should come any day now. I'd be lying if I said I wans't a wreck!

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  16. Thanks for the info, Heather! I just got my first double request and I'm SOOOO excited!

    Rebecca

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