In response to a recent post on Maintaining Enthusiasm, a reader asked:
So if a writer doesn’t receive a request for more material or an offer if they sent in a full manuscript, fairly quickly after they submitted, does that mean the agent in question probably isn’t interested? I understand your agency gives a 10 to 12 week response time, but some agencies do not give a time table at all. And does your agency respond back faster if they’re interested?
Typically I, and probably most agents, do weed through submissions and pull out those that seem most promising or of the greatest interest, so yes, a fast response can mean that an agent was interested and therefore got to it faster. Of course, a fast response can mean the exact opposite, that an agent thought, from your letter, that the project was so not right for her that she rejected it immediately, possibly not even reading the material.
It certainly benefits us to respond as quickly as possible, especially if the project is of interest. I want to be the first agent to get back to you so hopefully you sign with me before even hearing from anyone else. Of course, what benefits us and what we can actually do are two different things. We do hope to get to all submissions in the 10-12 week timeframe, but I’ll be honest, that doesn’t always happen. And more often than not I come across something that has been sitting on my shelf for much longer than I’m comfortable with. Something I think sounds fantastic, and reads just like it sounds. Something that I will request and possibly offer representation for.
Ultimately there is no one answer to your question, but I hope I’ve at least given you a little insight. And by the way, this same logic works for submissions to publishers, but keep in mind I did once sell a project that had been sitting with an editor for (and I’m not exaggerating) two years. Sometimes it just takes a while for the timing to be right.