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Turnaround Time for Partials


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#1 D. Thomas Clark

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Posted 23 January 2015 - 04:00 PM

6 months ago, I sent out requests for partials my manuscript to the agents I pitched to at the PNWA conference. They had varying requests from 20-100 pages. I've only heard back from one of them, who sent a personalized rejection 4 months ago (About the time I thought it would take). 

 

My question is, is it time for me to send a nudge? Do agents reject requests without responding? The agency websites had turnaround times for queries from 4-12 weeks. But they don't say how long it takes after they request material. From what I understand, normally I'd send a query, hear back in that time frame, and if the agent likes it, he/she would ask for a partial or a full and then give an updated time frame for when I should expect to hear back. 

 

But since I pitched to these agents at the conference, I skipped through the query stage and went straight to requests. Is 6 months enough time to ask for an update? Several of the agents I pitched to went to a couple more conferences in 2014, so I'd think they would read through the old material before the new. This was my first conference and it went really well, but now I don't know where to go next. 

 

Is there anyone here that's more familiar with the process that could help out?



#2 sharpegirl

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Posted 23 January 2015 - 05:33 PM

6 months ago, I sent out requests for partials my manuscript to the agents I pitched to at the PNWA conference. They had varying requests from 20-100 pages. I've only heard back from one of them, who sent a personalized rejection 4 months ago (About the time I thought it would take). 

 

My question is, is it time for me to send a nudge? After 6 months, you'd be totally safe to nudge. Do agents reject requests without responding? Yes. Honestly, it's better to never expect a response from anyone, so then you're pleasantly surprised when they do. The agency websites had turnaround times for queries from 4-12 weeks. But they don't say how long it takes after they request material. From what I understand, normally I'd send a query, hear back in that time frame, and if the agent likes it, he/she would ask for a partial or a full and then give an updated time frame for when I should expect to hear back. 

 

But since I pitched to these agents at the conference, I skipped through the query stage and went straight to requests. Is 6 months enough time to ask for an update? Several of the agents I pitched to went to a couple more conferences in 2014, so I'd think they would read through the old material before the new. This was my first conference and it went really well, but now I don't know where to go next. 

 

Is there anyone here that's more familiar with the process that could help out?



#3 Litgal

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    In between I became a "hybrid" as part of a group of six authors involved in a high concept novel-in-six-parts called "A Day of Fire" which released in November of 2014. The book, "A Day of Fire," tells the story of the final days of the doomed city of Pompeii in a way you've never read it before.

Posted 24 January 2015 - 10:15 AM

I never get the point of nudging. Do you really want to work with an agent you have to poke?  I assume you continue to query the manuscript, at least that is what I would be doing.  Ultimately you want an agent who is wildly enthusiastic about your book--who loves it more than your mom does and more maybe then you do yourself, in other words an embarrassing level of enthusiasm.  I am not saying these folks might not end up doing so.  Perhaps they have a huge TBR pile and haven't reached your partial yet (though that also tells you something about what it would be like to work with them).  But again how would pressuring them to read it now help their attitude?  Nope I am firmly in the leave it go and move on camp UNLESS you have any reason to believe they did not receive it (then check)


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#4 D. Thomas Clark

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Posted 26 January 2015 - 01:55 PM

 Ultimately you want an agent who is wildly enthusiastic about your book--who loves it more than your mom does and more maybe then you do yourself, in other words an embarrassing level of enthusiasm.  

I agree with this. And one of the agents I haven't heard back from showed this level of enthusiasm. He heard the letter the day before, and when I did the pitch the next day, he interrupted me about 1/3 of the way through and said he wanted it. But I haven't heard anything since. From the conference, I learned that the my concept was solid and very intriguing, so if everybody that liked the idea turns it down, I want to know WHY. If most of them are saying something similar, then I know I'll need to work on that, and I don't want to query when there's something I should fix first. 

 

If I hadn't met the agents face-to-face, this wouldn't bother me. But since several of them were excited about it, I want to know if they got around to reading it (And I think they probably have by 6 months) and if they didn't like it, how was it different than what they were expecting. 



#5 Litgal

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    In between I became a "hybrid" as part of a group of six authors involved in a high concept novel-in-six-parts called "A Day of Fire" which released in November of 2014. The book, "A Day of Fire," tells the story of the final days of the doomed city of Pompeii in a way you've never read it before.

Posted 26 January 2015 - 03:41 PM

Bottom line--what you'd like and what you are going to get, not the same thing.  Even if you nudge these folks and get a "no" chances are there will be no substantive information as to why.  Sorry, that's just the way the game is played.  Once in a while an agent writes a personal (even guidance full) rejection but generally that happens because they connected on some level and they do it right after reading.

I agree with this. And one of the agents I haven't heard back from showed this level of enthusiasm. He heard the letter the day before, and when I did the pitch the next day, he interrupted me about 1/3 of the way through and said he wanted it. But I haven't heard anything since. From the conference, I learned that the my concept was solid and very intriguing, so if everybody that liked the idea turns it down, I want to know WHY. If most of them are saying something similar, then I know I'll need to work on that, and I don't want to query when there's something I should fix first. 

 

If I hadn't met the agents face-to-face, this wouldn't bother me. But since several of them were excited about it, I want to know if they got around to reading it (And I think they probably have by 6 months) and if they didn't like it, how was it different than what they were expecting. 


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#6 sharpegirl

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Posted 26 January 2015 - 05:12 PM

Litgal brings up some great points. Don't expect personal rejections. Many conference agents will request from everyone they meet with/get pitched to, because it's way more awkward to reject someone face to face than in a letter.

 

I'd also like to point out that most agents don't read all the way through most submissions they reject. They read until they realize it's not for them, then they stop. I remember when I was querying, I had several agents give me personal rejections that stressed that they HAD read the entire full, but couldn't offer rep because of the genre. That was an eye opening moment for me because until then, I thought all my rejecting agents were rejecting based on the WHOLE book--which probably is not the case for many of them. 

 

I do always think it's good to nudge ONCE because sometimes emails fall through the cracks or sometimes an agent sits on a MS for a long time, on the fence about it. But personally, for me, one time is enough. While I don't think it's wise to judge agents response times with clients based on their response time to queriers, a nudge is a little different, IMO. 



#7 annab3lla

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Posted 29 January 2015 - 11:41 AM

I never get the point of nudging. Do you really want to work with an agent you have to poke?  I assume you continue to query the manuscript, at least that is what I would be doing.  Ultimately you want an agent who is wildly enthusiastic about your book--who loves it more than your mom does and more maybe then you do yourself, in other words an embarrassing level of enthusiasm.  I am not saying these folks might not end up doing so.  Perhaps they have a huge TBR pile and haven't reached your partial yet (though that also tells you something about what it would be like to work with them).  But again how would pressuring them to read it now help their attitude?  Nope I am firmly in the leave it go and move on camp UNLESS you have any reason to believe they did not receive it (then check)

 

I think it's definitely worth nudging at least once. As sharpegirl said, sometimes things fall through the cracks.

 

As a lawyer, there are certain aspects of my job that feel similar to a literary agent's. I get a lot of voicemails from people looking for a lawyer--more people that I can take on, which means I can pick and choose which ones I want to call back. Sometimes, a potential file will sound really interesting, and I'll think "I want this file. I should definitely call this person back." But then a couple of my other 50 files will blow up and I will be completely swamped for the rest of the week, and it completely slips my mind, and I never end up getting around to calling them back. In those cases, I would be very happy to receive a follow-up reminder. (In fact, my voicemail specifically tells potential new clients that they're welcome to leave a second voicemail in a week if they haven't heard from me.)

 

I don't think a failure to hear from them right away necessarily means that they won't be passionate about your project. It could just mean that they haven't had a chance to look at it yet because they're busy doing awesome work for their current clients, or they accidentally marked your email as "read" instead of "unread", etc.

You might as well send a single reminder nudge, just in case.



#8 D. Thomas Clark

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Posted 29 January 2015 - 02:27 PM

Okay, thanks everybody. I think that I'll send out a nudge to the ones I haven't heard from. It's possible that they wanted to come back to it but didn't, since right after a conference is probably the busiest time since request rate is much higher than normal. 






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