My first day agenting I received over 400 queries. I was known in the industry but not well-known. By the end of the month, I was into the thousands. Thousands!
New to agenting (there was no QueryManager at that time), I didn't push to "close" to submissions. I know now that I should have. Regardless of that, I am also the type that feels it is respectful to acknowledge (or try to) those who have reached out. Took the time to research me, my interests, and felt we were a fit.
I also know from both sides of the desk how it feels. The quick response. The no response. The vague response. The response that offered great feedback. The response that took a long time to receive.
I also know too, what I do as an agent; I wear many hats. And then, what my tasks consist of with helping maintain a business and agency. Personal life happens, too. Which at times, reading must carry over into that time, because there are only so many hours in a day.
At every event and interaction I've ever had, I am honest...
My response time isn't the fastest, but I do a lot of tasks (the list is long) and I read everything that comes my way. I take my time. I consider the potential. I research (sometimes) further. I don't spend a minute on a manuscript; I spend what is needed to help make the decision on my end.
I ask for follow ups--welcome polite nudges.
I ask that writers advise when there is interest (agent/editor) and not so much for me to consider the project as well (although, I like to have that opportunity) but to keep me in the loop. Every second counts on my end and I want to be reading manuscripts that are available (not withdrawing manuscripts that aren't available wastes time).
I ask for writers to withdraw manuscripts--I don't know if something is being revised; I don't know if a writer decided to take a different path. I wish I had physic abilities but I don't. Plus, it's conscientious. Publishing is such a slow process yet, it moves quickly, too. Withdrawing manuscripts, for whatever reason, keeps things efficient and moving forward.
I ask for writers to reach out (I do receive several emails and inquiries about everything publishing-related and I do my best to help answer them--I remember not knowing much or even what a query was when I first began my publication journey).
So, my point?
I can only work on my end at the speed I can physically and mentally work at. If you have pitched me, I am transparent. It takes me time. I have signed a client before (actually several clients) after interacting for a period of time or even years. But I'm only part of the process. Writers are the other half.
For the thousands of manuscripts I've received, the % is small on the amount of follow ups, polite nudges, manuscripts being withdrawn, updates about revision or other updates from writers. About 30%.
As an agent I know I need to advocate for my clients. But my work isn't the only reason there is success. Clients advocate, too.
Does that mean only 30% of those writers really had complete interest and my name wasn't just another name/just another agent to add to the list?
That makes me sad.
But this is a reality. Publishing is a business. I get it.
For me, I know the standards in the industry for response, but they are not my guidelines. I can't guarantee an answer will come a week after you've submitted or 6 weeks.
I can guarantee, though, that if you interest, be in the 30%. Advocate.
Follow up with me (a lot, if needed).
Also understand that my clients come first. They will be first to mention that I devote my time and energy to every project they share and I help with anything they need.
Understand that I help maintain and run a business/agency. Again, clients can detail this further. We're growing. Growth, though, takes time. Our decisions will benefit clients and agents and future clients and agents.
Slow and steady has always been my motto.
Learn from every experience (good and bad) is another.
Understand that your submission is important to me. Our interaction might lead to a wonderful partnership. While I am currently closed to submissions, I open for conferences.
I'm looking for stellar individuals, with awesome creativity.
Individuals who are kind, compassionate, and are understanding of my process--which, is my process. Not another agent's process.
My responses take time and offer feedback. And many writers (those in that percentage) have resubmitted and with those interactions firm relationships are developing.
This post, rather long, is my post and pertains to me and my process. Not another agent or agents.
If an agent has extended an invitation to follow up, do so. If they haven't, don't! Agents are all different in practices. Track that. Have lists. Keep notes in excel.
For me, I'm looking for a partner. One that helps in the process. We will be a team. Working toward the same goal. The author-agent relationship (with me) is never one-sided. It's not that, the moment I receive an individual's submission. Therefore, follow up.
Build that relationship with me.
Some final thoughts, now with knowing both sides of the desk.
I work endless hours and sometimes for free. I don't get paid until I sell a client's book. My first day of agenting was like walking into the library--scaled down, of course to 20 pages each. Exciting and wonderful while also causing a little anxiety.
Rejections in all forms (vague, no response, great feedback, long time to receive) are always welcomed. No matter what, I search for what I can learn from that response. I'm grateful, actually, when an editor apologizes for the length of time and then offers a tidbit of what did not mesh for him/her. Those tidbits, if they come 1 week, 8 weeks, 9 months, 6 months, 1 year later, might just be what that story is missing. What I, as an agent, might have missed. Or possibly, I suggested it and my discussion with my client created a new decision/path for us to try.
If an editor tells me to follow up, you can bet I do!
If I have interest in a client's manuscript, I let editors know. They are not on my end, they have no idea who else is considering.
If I have interest and my client wishes to proceed. It's the deal for them (and we've discussed and it's what s/he feels is best), I withdraw the manuscript from editors. I don't like my time being wasted. I don't want to waste theirs.
If my client wants to make substantial edits, I advise editors further.
Regardless of the type of rejection and/or length of time for receiving it, I'm always grateful. I understand the process. I know editors are juggling a zillion things. My client's submission isn't the only submission. I am an agent but I'm not the only agent submitting. I also know that I'm building a relationship. That's a goal. Connections are always important. No matter what profession. No matter if representation is offered. No matter if a publication offer happens.
Part of my agenting job is listening and learning about the editors I'm possibly considering for a project. Yes. Some are slower with response. Some are quick and vague. Some offer great feedback. When I submit to them, I've done my research. I know it might take xyz to receive a response. I have a mental note of that. I don't, though, ever use that in a way that is against my understanding of the process. I'm focused on the "why". Why am I submitting to that editor, knowing I might be waiting? If the fit is a fit, it's a fit. Also, is that editor an editor that has been in the industry a while. Or just starting out. Workloads do play into responses as well.
Possibly my next post will get further into this. Dissecting rejections and response time and responses a bit more. They are, after all, tools in this process.
Bottom line: If you submitted to me and I haven't responded, I am still considering.
Keep reading. Keep writing. Keep pushing toward your goals.