Pub Rants

Responding to Full Manuscripts

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STATUS: Just watched Casino Royale. Liked the movie. Definitely one of the more intelligent Bond films I’ve seen. Can’t say the blonde Bond does it for me but I’m all for the edginess of his character. Much more interesting and satisfying in the long run I’d say.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? Nothing at the moment.

Since a lot of the blog readers can’t be reading all of my entries from the beginning of this blog, it’s good to highlight NLA policy every once in a while. Long time blog readers will know two things about our agency.

1. We never ask for an exclusive. This means that any writer who sends us a full manuscript is free to shop that manuscript to other agents. All we ever ask for is the courtesy of knowing if another agent has expressed interest and if the writer has signed elsewhere (so we don’t read a manuscript that is already off the table).

2. We always write a letter of explanation as to why we are passing when we request and read a full manuscript.

Now it’s not a detailed editorial letter or anything like that but we do explain (hopefully in some detail) why we are passing. Often times we even mention that we are open to seeing a revision.

So I always try and do my best to read within 2 months of a request (as stated on the website) but despite my best effort, it doesn’t always happen. The good news is that no writer is obligated to wait on me.

Which, sigh, is often the best that I can do.

11 Responses

  1. Wordy Boy in a Floppy Hat. said:

    The blonde Bond make me tingle!

    All you can do is your best and I am sure that is pretty darn good.

    5 months sounds like a long time but I’ve been waiting for a query response from another agent for something like 3 years.

    Heh, maybe I’ll follow up. I am sure it was just lost in the mail.

  2. Amy Nathan said:

    I think your agency guidelines and policies are very clear. From only ever having submitted articles and essays to magazines and journals, I know even that can take months, and months doesn’t always mean no.

    I’ve filling my well of patience for when I am ready to submit my ms to agents!

  3. magolla said:

    Yay, for NLA any you, Kristin! Many other agents/editors send form letters rejections on fulls, leaving the writer angsting over where they went wrong and if they could ever fix it.

  4. DFortier said:

    This policy sounds both professional and fair to the writer. Some authors tell horror stories of waiting months on end to hear from an agent before submitting again, and only getting their work in front of a half dozen or so agents in a year.
    My hat is off to your company.

  5. Kathleen said:

    Casino Royale!!! They just called to say the one I put on hold is in for me, and I’m off to pick it up today, to see again. LOL!

    I like all the Bond movies, and, like you, the blonde didn’t do it for me… but the acting and character made me forget about that rather quickly. That is, by far, my favorite Bond movie, for lots of reasons. 🙂

    (Okay… I know that had nothing to do with publishing and writing and agents, but I had to post anyway. *smiles*)

  6. Madison said:

    I have a friend whose had my mss. for over a year and still hasn’t finsihed it (he has health problems), so I could def wait two months no problem! I understand that agents are busy, busy folks.

    Haven’t seen that Bond movie. My fav is Goldfinger. But the new Bond movie releasing on the 14th of Nov. will have the first theatrical trailer of the new Star Trek movie, and THAT’S what I’m waiting for!

  7. AC said:

    Looks like I’m not the only one who prefers the tall, dark and handsome type! Though New Bond definitely has two of the three which, as the song goes, “ain’t bad.” Definitely the best Bond movie to date.

    Agent sites with very clear directions say a lot about the professionalism of the agent(s). I think not requiring exclusives is really decent of you 🙂

  8. Anita said:


    Of the full manuscripts you request, about what percentage to do you end up representing? I have two agents who’ve requested my full and I don’t know how excited I should be. Each of them had requested some rewriting of my first three chapters, they looked at the rewrites, and then requested my full. (It’s funny, because they each wanted something totally different in the rewrites, so I now have three versions of the same book).

    Also, do agents want to know when another agent is also looking at the full? It seems sort of nah-nah-nah-nah-boo-boo to tell them.

    The waiting is getting to me.

  9. Anonymous said:

    Is it standard practice to respond to fulls? I’ve had a few (6) out for a couple of months and I wonder at what point I should write ’em off?

  10. Holly said:

    I agree with you – mostly.

    The blonde Bond didn’t do it for me since Pierce was still in my heart as 007 — until the chair scene. Yup. My loyalties switched faster than a bandwagon leader!


  11. Kilian said:

    I was at the Tucson RWA meeting, and I started reading your blog right from the beginning. Just reached this point. Your teaching on the pitch blurb was so helpful to me in finding the focus of my novel that I am rewriting to match the blurb. Thanks! I was beginning to think my story was boring, but reading my blurb makes me realize that it’s a great story. Now all I have to do is finish writing it.