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.