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Response time with current agent


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#1 kiremma

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 03:37 PM

So, I have an agent that wants to represent me with my food/health manuscript.  She read my proposal and was sold, and we have talked over the phone.  We have exchanged a few emails as well.  

 

The issue is, she often sends me a single question - which I usually answer within an hour, usually with another question or need for input - after which I will not hear back her second response for two weeks or more.

 

My issue is that she originally said that I should plan to prepare to send out the proposal to major publishers in August.  She asked for an additional chapter, which I wrote and sent back to her.  One month later after no response, I sent her an email telling her that I had sent her the chapter and was awaiting feedback.  Two weeks later (6 weeks after sending the additional chapter), she sent back some general comments which addressed within a week.  It has now been ten days since sending that revision.  

 

Despite our interaction she has yet to send me a formal agent contract, even though during our initial phone conversation she said she would be sending me the literary agent contract in the next day or two.  

 

About a week ago I had another agent finally respond to my original proposal query (approximately four months after sending the query).  This agent states that she is interested and is asking if I have yet found representation.  I have sent her a generic reply but stated that I have not signed with an agent, yet she also has not responded.

 

Is it typical to have such long response times with an agent who is prepping to submit your proposal, or is my agent sounding not very motivated?  I'm wanting to know if I should look into this second agent, or - since she also has yet to reply after a week - should I stick with my original, albeit unsigned agent?  My concern is that should we sign with a publisher I will have questions I need quick answers to, and I won't be able to afford a two-week delay in the response.

 

thoughts?



#2 LucidDreamer

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 06:53 AM

If you don't have a contract, you don't actually have an agent.

I would be very leery about any agent who didn't get you a contract in a timely manner. Also, working with you and talking about submitting anywhere when you don't have a formal contract with them is sketchy, in my opinion. How can they make a deal when their percentage and other terms aren't established?

Definitely talk to agent number two. You are not yet obligated to the first one



#3 kiremma

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Posted 22 July 2017 - 07:57 PM

Thanks LD,

 

Ironically, two days after I posted, the second agent contacted me to state that she was still very interested.  She apologized for the tardiness of her reply but stated that she had been sick.  I quickly replied and told her that I am frustrated with the slow responses from the first agent and I am open to hearing what she (the second agent) had to offer.  I also mentioned that I would expect quick replies.  

 

Three days later, no response yet from her.  I'm starting to think that I will just become more frustrated after signing an agent contract if slow response times are the norm.  Should I send another email with a ''response deadline' or just sit and wait?  In my mind, if you're trying to get my business then you should be falling over backwards to win me over (i.e. keep checking for my reply email).  I'm trying to figure out if days or weeks between communication is the norm or whether I just attract slow agents.



#4 dogsbody

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 02:30 AM

Agents are fairly busy people, and the publishing world tends to move slowly itself -- so there may be a decided lack of urgency in some situations. 

 

If the second agent has been sick, that most likely means she has a backlog at work. She may need to prioritize her current clients, instead of potential ones.

 

I'm not saying you don't have any right to expect availability, but in your current state (on query) you might want to reconsider your mindset. You don't have any "business" to offer them, as such, or at least not in terms of a guaranteed sale. In fact, you're asking for their resources -- their time, connections, editorial and marketing input -- in the hopes they will help make you money. And they're considering whether or not it's a worthwhile gamble in the hopes of 15% of whatever money is to be had.

 

I'm not saying you need to be deferential to agents, or consider yourself indebted -- you've put in a lot of work yourself, obviously, and will continue to do so. But they're not on your payroll just yet, so maybe issuing a deadline is not the best response at this time. 



#5 kiremma

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 07:37 AM

Thanks dogsbody.  Thought-provoking perspective. Maybe the whole 'patience is a virtue' thing will pay off here.



#6 Litgal

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Posted 27 July 2017 - 03:54 PM

I don't think baring all about the first agent to the second was a great idea. While LucidDreamer is technically right--if you don't have a contract you don't have an agent--but if you are working back and forth with one agent the second agent might feel she is "stepping on toes" and that there is an understanding. Also complaining about one member of the profession to another is, quite frankly, never a great idea. Publishing is a small world. 

 

Set aside what happens with 2nd agent for a moment. Because, imo, the real problem is first agent (non-agent) I think you need to call her and talk frankly. You are concerned about the leisurely pace of things--particularly sending the contract--absent any explanation. Now it may be she isn't submitting because August is dead in publishing (it is) but that still doesn't explain the lack of action on the contract.

 

A bad agent or one you don't feel comfortable with is worse than no agent. Seriously. Clear up the status with agent #1 one way or another and then (if you throw her over or cut things off) move on expeditiously with finding another. 


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#7 kiremma

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Posted 28 July 2017 - 08:24 AM

Thanks for the reply litgal.  To be more clear - the second agent contacted me and asked me if I had representation.  I replied that an agent and I have been conversing, but nothing was signed and it was typically two to four weeks to hear back a response from the first agent.  She asked if I would tell her the first agent's name, and I replied that I did not feel comfortable doing that.  

 

Since my original post, the second agent has consistently replied within 36 hours.  She stated that she would read my new chapter and re-read my original proposal and get back to me within five days regarding representation.  I still haven't heard anything back from the first agent since before my original post.  






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