Publishing and Marketing · Writing

When do you accept that an agent isn’t going to respond?

So, if you’ve followed my blog for the past few months, you know that a literary agent that I’ve truly admired since I first saw her at last year’s DFWcon has the full manuscript for my first young adult novel. She asked for it after my pitch, saying that an issue book concerning an adopted teen was something that interested her. I sent her the manuscript a few hours later, and she confirmed with me at dinner that night that she did receive the materials I’d sent. She was very friendly, and personal, and reassuring… she was everything I wanted her to be.

She set some expectations with me, saying that she would give me a response after three chapters if she didn’t like it, and after reading the full book if she did like it. I checked her website that weekend, and it said the response time for a full manuscript was approximately 8 weeks.

She also did state that her clients come first, and she’s taken on a few new clients since that meeting… which was nearly three months ago now. On Saturday, it will be 12 weeks.
I’ve sent her three follow up emails. The first was to inform her that the redesign of the book covers for my Emi Lost & Found series were finished (she had asked to see the covers in my meeting, although she made it clear she wasn’t interested in representing those self-published books). I sent this one right around the 8 week mark. The second email was about a week later, just checking in and trying to find out what a new time estimate would be. The last email was last Thursday. In that one, I let her know that I had decided not to submit any materials to any other agents until I got a response from her, offering her the first right of refusal.

She’s stated on her site that she’s very busy. And I follow her on twitter, and I know that she’s been going to a lot of conferences, and she probably accepts numerous partials and fulls from meetings with those authors, as well. I can’t begin to imagine the piles of books she has to sift through.

She does have interns who do a fair amount of her reading, so there’s help, but she makes the ultimate call, so she does have to read at least a little of most things that come across her desk. I don’t envy her at all.

If she hadn’t given me such assurances in my meeting with her back in March, I would have moved on by now. But she was so nice and sincere that I just can’t give up… but I kind of feel like I should.

How long should I wait? Do I send her another message, giving her a deadline? I cringe at the thought of that, but I’ve read that some authors do that. I’m just not sure what my next move should be. Any authors out there who have any thoughts on the subject?

4 thoughts on “When do you accept that an agent isn’t going to respond?

  1. If it’s been twelve weeks when her site tells you she takes up to 8 weeks, then I would move on.

    If you get offers from other agents, then you might want to send her a brief email letting her know that you’re being considered by another agent. This will give her an opportunity to intervene, if she chooses to, but I wouldn’t hold out querying with other agents on the hope that the bird in the bush will finally come around.

  2. I’ve also been to a conference where four (4!) agents seemed really interested in my manuscript, and were sent partials. But only two of them sent me back polite rejections–the other two never wrote back at all.
    I have learned since then you should never tell an agent you will not be querying others until you hear from him/her, because it does not make the agent feel more obligated to get back to you faster, it just forces you into a state of limbo.
    IMO, wait another couple weeks, see what happens. But after that, it would be appropriate for you to send a polite email to the agent telling her that while you would still love the opportunity to work with her, you must pursue all avenues for your work.
    Just my 2 cents.

      1. I’m no author but what Shelby says makes sense to me. I wouldn’t give up, but after a few more weeks I would start exploring other avenues.

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