When Agents Don’t Respond to an Offer
- By: Jessica Faust | Date: Nov 16 2016
Is there ever a good reason why an agent would ask for a full and then not read it? This agent (a biggie) asked for a full the day after I sent her a query, and then extracted a promise from me to let her know if I received another offer and to give her a week to read it. I agreed. When I did receive another offer, I let her know, as I was still very interested in her, and felt her client list would be an even better match than the offering agent. She replied “Thank you for letting me know!” and that was three weeks ago. I can see she is twittering constantly so I know she didn’t fall of a cliff.
I almost feel like I shouldn’t have told her about the offer, that maybe she felt it was pressuring her, but I was merely doing what she had asked, and I’d read a few agents’ comments complaining about MSs they’d spent a weekend reading, only to find out the author already had taken representation.
Honestly, this makes me very leery about sending out fulls without demanding some kind of time frame. I’ve decided not to nudge her as she knows where I am, knows I have an offer, and certainly if she was interested, would have read it. But I found the experience rather strange.
I think your question could easily have been broken up into two different blog posts, but I will try to answer it all here.
There are plenty of reasons why an agent would ask for a full and not read it, or not read the entire book, the only one that matters is that she didn’t want to. She started the book, got to a certain point, and either lost interest or felt that the book wasn’t working. Just like a reader, an agent will only read to the point where she still feels excited for the book. Your hope, your job as the author, is to make that point the end of the book.
Why didn’t the agent respond when you told her you had an offer? There are so many possible reasons so let me get started on some…
1. Your email was oddly vague. You told her you had an offer, but didn’t give her a timeline in which to answer (one week is fair) or didn’t tell her you wanted her to respond. Believe it or not, this happens a lot. Authors are afraid they will come off too strong so leave the agent questioning what they want. There have been times I got an email from an author that simply says, “I’m writing to let you know another agent has offered.” Okay. Congratulations. Are you still taking offers from other agents? What’s your timeline? Do you want me to offer or is this an email telling me that you’re pulling the material? Be clear in what you want. You got an offer from another agent. You are still hoping this agent is interested. You’re asking her to respond by such-and-such date.
2. She forgot. She got caught up in her other work–contracts, client revisions, etc, and it slipped her mind.
3. You didn’t give her a due date so she has no reason to hurry.
4. Her response got lost in the email.
Not nudging her is a problem. What’s going on with the other agent? I’ll tell you right now that I would not be happy if I made an offer and the author was making me wait three weeks (or longer) for a response. In fact, I might even rescind the offer at that point. I don’t think we’d be a good fit if you don’t want to work with me enough to respond.
Frankly, I’m not sure you’re handling this situation in a way that’s best for you and your career. I’ve written a great deal on the blog about how to handle offers, but ultimately you need to be more proactive. An offer from an agent puts you in the driver’s seat. It means you need to be the boss of your career, because you are the boss of your career. You need to let all the other agents you might be interested in know of your offer. You need to give them a deadline. You need to tell any agents you’re not interested in that you got an offer and are pulling your material. You need to make a decision by your deadline. You don’t need to go with any agent if that’s the case, but you need to let any of them who offer know.
If an agent doesn’t respond you need to follow-up and really think about whether you want to work with an agent who can’t respond in a timely manner at the beginning of your relationship. It’s like someone being an hour late to your first date. Do you really think she’s going to change when it’s your 10th anniversary? Doubt it.
Presumably the full was sent via email (or query form) so I’m not sure why you would suddenly decide that you’re going to hold back on giving other agents the possibility of reading your work simply because one didn’t. It seems to me you would be shorting yourself and your own opportunities. Agents have plenty to read. If you refuse to send a requested full, they’ll just let it go.
I hope I’ve helped in some way.