Your Questions on Queries: When to Nudge a Literary Agent

I always appreciate questions from readers and am happy to do what I can to help answer them…

If I’ve queried, say, my top ten ideal agents, then gotten a request for the full MS from one of them, should I let the other nine agents know that someone has requested it? Perhaps just the ones who haven’t replied yet? Or even the ones that graciously declined?

The argument in the article was that it creates a sense of urgency, which sounded a little more pushy than I’m comfortable with. (LOOK! SOMEBODY LOVES ME!) But then again I’m not an agent seeking out fresh talent.

Maybe, if I were an agent, I would be disappointed to know I could have discovered a great new author, if only my inbox weren’t overflowing with queries. Some agents are busier than others. I expect, in most cases, it’s a direct result of being a successful agent.

Is nudging really nagging? Helpful, or way out of line?

Thoughts?

There might always be the agent who feels differently, but letting me know that an agent has requested your material doesn’t change my opinion. To me that only means there was something about your query that resonated with another agent, but didn’t resonate with me. It also tends to sound, to me, like the author is hoping to create competition when, until there is an actual offer, there is no real competition.

I agree with what you say about being an agent and feeling disappointed about missing out on something. It’s why I always suggest that when the offer of representation does come in you contact those top choice agents who have not yet responded, even to the query. In other words, that’s the time to get in touch and let them know that something is happening. Not before.

Nudging when the posted timeframe for response is up or when you have an offer is not nagging. Emailing every few weeks to see what’s up is.

I hope that helps and congrats on the request. Good luck!

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4 comments

  1. I’ve noticed a lot of writers get too excited when an agent asks to see the full manuscript. It’s certainly something to be pleased about, but it’s NOT an offer of representation. Agents reject fulls all the time.

    Nudging other agents in the pipeline when you’ve received an offer of representation is polite. Nudging them when you’ve waited longer than their respond-by date is an acceptable way to help your sanity.

    Any other nudging is nagging.

  2. What if the agent has had your full manuscript (by request) for 5 months and her website says she responds to ALL full requests within 3 months? The agent in question is usually very good about responding yay or nay. I sent a polite e-mail nudge, but haven’t heard back. Should I assume it’s a no and move on?

    1. It’s ok to mark it as a no, but if this agent usually responds I wouldn’t assume it’s a reject. She might very well still be getting to it. Especially if you get an offer.

  3. It’s like I say to my students “if you have the question than most in the room probably do as well”. So thanks for answering these questions, Jessica, because your answers help us all.

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