We got so many great questions in response to a recent request to readers. Here’s just one of many I’m going to address:
What would you recommend in this scenario?
An author queries twenty agents or so. Half a dozen respond with requests for partials or fulls. One agent requests an exclusive for three weeks, but the author has already sent out some requested fulls. What does the author do?
A) Wait for responses from agents who already have the full manuscript, at which point author would be able to grant an exclusive (of course, by that point, said agent may have lost interest);
B) Regretfully decline, because it’s not possible to provide an exclusive; or
C) Send the manuscript anyway with an explanation that it has already been sent out but that author will not make a decision or send out any more fulls during the requested three-week period?
Can you shed some light on what an author should do in this case? Many thanks.
If you haven’t seen me there before, here’s a chance to watch me climb up on my soapbox. I HATE exclusives. I think they are unfair to the author and lazy on the part of the agent. I have heard agents defend exclusives by saying that they ask for them because they don’t want to compete with other agents or, frankly, think they can’t. And yes, I have heard agents say those exact words. If you can’t compete, don’t play the game.
Except in the case of an option clause, publishers don’t demand exclusives from agents and therefore I don’t think agents should ask any differently from authors. In fact, right now I’m in the middle of a bidding war with four different publishers over a book. Can you imagine how unfair it would have been to the author had the lowest-bidding publisher demanded an exclusive? It certainly wouldn’t have done much for the contract, or the final advance numbers.
So what’s my suggestion? C. If the agent is interested enough in you and your work to make it worth your while, she’ll read it whether or not other agents are also reviewing it. Be honest. Send it out and let her know that while you can’t grant an exclusive you will certainly let her know if any other agent makes an offer and give her a chance to also offer. If she won’t read it then she’s probably not that excited about your work in the first place.