I am on hiatus from looking for an agent. I sent out more than twenty-five query letters and got a hit. After receiving my query and synopsis, his office wrote back and asked for the first fifty pages and a ten-page outline.
I am excited because this is an agent I would be honored to work with. He has an impressive track record. When I sent the requested material, I told them that I considered this request an exclusive and that I would cease querying other agents, even though they didn’t ask for it.
Was that the right thing to do? I ask because I can find no agent rules of etiquette out, as if I were going to a tea and I wanted to know how to hold the cup.
I am not sending out any queries and I am not getting any action. Did I make the right move telling them I was handling it as an exclusive? If today I receive everything back in my SASE with polite letter saying that it is not right for them (just checked the P.O. and it is not there), then I am back to sending out query letters, and that means two or three weeks minimum before I get any traction. Did I just drop myself into a boiling hot vat of lost time (even though I find sending out queries a real pain in the ass and I welcome the break)?
So here are the questions I have.
- When I send out multiple letters to agents, do I have a responsibility to let them all know that I am querying other agents? Only one asked that I do this, but they said it was customary. Are the other ones expecting it?
- If I don’t hear anything back from an agent, what is the accepted time span before I can consider it a rejection?
- If an agent follows up on a query and asks to see more, but does not ask for an exclusive, should I consider it an exclusive?
I am not losing sleep over the answers to these questions. If I get an offer of representation from an agent and I am happy with that agent, I’m willing to tell any other agent, “Hey, you snooze, you lose.”
One of the things that did occur to me is that this is a game in which power plays a role. I have power because I have this great novel that I wrote, and the agent has the power because they hold the keys to the kingdom. As a writer I have some power in this relationship. As Herb Cohen, author of You Can Negotiate Anything, said, “Power perceived is power achieved.” (By the way, if you have not read Cohen’s book, drop everything and go read it. It is one of the most influential books I have ever read, good for everything from buying a new car to dealing with teenagers.)
See ya’ later.
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