Pub Rants

Ain’t That Fast Enough?

 49 Comments |  Share This:    

STATUS: Just a note to let you know that on Friday, I’m off to New York for my month-long corporate rental and Book Expo. I’ll be giving y’all the inside scoop on everything I hear from editors.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? ARE YOU GONNA GO MY WAY by Lenny Kravitz

Sara and I went to lunch today as it was 80 degrees and just lovely. We popped over to Green Salad Company to get some leafy lunches and then sat outside soaking up the sunshine. We try to have lunch together at least once a month so we can touch base on both work related things but just personal stuff too. Reconnect so we aren’t always about work.

Today Sara suffered her first disappointment on this lovely road to agenting. A project she was really excited about and interested in taking on landed an agent before she could request the full. Ack. I hate that feeling.

So we were talking about the timeline over lunch.

On May 1, we received the query regarding the project. On May 2, Sara responded asking for sample pages. The author didn’t actually upload to our database until four days later on May 6. Today is May 12 and yesterday (so May 11) Sara read the sample pages. Today she eagerly opened the email program to send off a request for a full but noticed that the author had emailed us.

Yep, that email was to tell us that the writer had already accepted representation. Sara was hugely bummed. Now maybe the manuscript wouldn’t have lived up to her expectation upon reading the full but she doesn’t think so. She really liked the voice and the writing.

So from query to asking for full—10 days. Ain’t that fast enough? Guess not!

49 Responses

  1. Anonymous said:

    What if the author had emailed Sara saying Agent x was offering her/him representation? Would Sara quickly read the full and possibly offer representation as well? Did the author make a small mistake?

  2. Tracy said:

    Wow, that is a quick turnaround. Many writers dream of that type of scenario! Hopefully another fresh voice and awesome story will come along swiftly to take away the sting of losing out. I guess it doesn’t matter whether you’re on the writer side or agent side – rejection isn’t any fun.

  3. Melissa said:

    Wow, that is quick. Please forgive me if this isn’t the right place to ask this, but I’m about to query you two in the next couple of days with a YA Urban Fantasy (no vampires or werewolves!) and based on what I’ve read on your web site and the web, I’m not sure who to address the query to. Generally speaking, who prefers YA Urban Fantasy more?

    I know how silly I’m being (very silly!), but I’m actually losing sleep over this.

  4. Anonymous said:

    I think the author was too hasty – why not wait until all interested agents have read and you have a chance to compare what they have to say. If an agent wants you enough they’ll understand. I was lucky enough to hae three agents interested, I gave them all time to read, interviewed them all and went with the one who felt right. It was an incredible position to be in…and nice that my agent knows she had compettion!

  5. Patti K. said:

    The way I see it,the author sent out multiple queries, an agent asked for a partial before, and the wires were crossed. This is a writers dream. It’s my dream!!!!

  6. Anonymous said:

    The author should have extended Sara the opportunity to respond. Like Anon 12 AM, I also had 3 agents interested. And I am sooo glad I waited for #3 to return from travels. All 3 offered representation, but by the time I’d interviewed all 3 and talked to their authors, I knew beyond a doubt #3 was the one. She’s even more fantastic than I expected. To those seeking representation, give all interested agents the courtesy of a read. You won’t regret it.

  7. Heather Boyd said:

    You failed to mention that was ten calendar days NOT ten working days. That is an amazing turnaround. Or do you work 24/7. I really hope you dont.

  8. Anita said:

    I guess when the writing is excellent, things can move very quickly. Congrats to the writer! And good luck, Sara, on the next one!

  9. Tara said:

    Gosh, sorry to read about the one that got away–maybe the author just didn’t know any better, but I’ve always read (and personally experienced) that when an offer comes in, you alert the other agents who have requested pages about it to give them a chance to chime in. Ditto Anita–lucky author to have so much interest, but this blog post gives us a peek at how agents face disappointment, too.

  10. Lilith des Cavernes said:

    Sorry to read that. Perhaps something more interesting is around her corner however. 🙂 Keeping good thoughts.

    As for fast enough… wow! She must have approached the other agent first. That’s my guess, anyway.


  11. Ciar Cullen said:

    Dang, never thought of that kind of disappointment from Agent’s POV. Maybe something good is in her inbox??? Hint, hint. Rubbing a magic lantern here…

  12. Kimber An said:

    The first Anon had a good point. The author should’ve emailed Sara and given her the chance to read the Full, since she was still reading the Partial. Unless, of course, the author was certain, and she probably was, that the other agent was the right one for her.

    I prefer to thoroughly examine all my options before coming to such an important decision.

  13. Tom Price said:

    Sara shouldn’t feel bad, that author could have been submitting for six months or longer before they sent the query to her. And if that author met up with rejection after rejection, I’m sure they were pleased to find someone to champion their work.

  14. DebraLSchubert said:

    That writer clearly has something seriously great going on. Sorry, Sara, but we writers experience that kind of downer all the time. A great agent has our partial or full ( and decides to pass. I agree with Kimber An – dark chocolate to the rescue!

  15. Margaret Yang said:

    I don’t think the writer did anything wrong by accepting the other agent’s offer. Writers query widely, and sometimes it shakes out this way. The venerable Miss Snark urged writers to continue to query even when partials/fulls were out. That’s what I did, and I’m not sorry, especially when three agents wanted me all at once.

    But, I’m sorry that you guys had to be on the losing end this time. Rejections are tough all around.

  16. HeatherM said:

    Are you kidding? Most writers would kill for that turn around time! Definately fast enough. Any time someone asks for a partial it’s kind of time for us as writers to put the breaks on giving it out to anyone else in the same manner. If they were in that progressed of a submission state with someone else they should have mentioned it.

    I have a feeling that author is going to regret not going with you guys!!

  17. Anonymous said:

    For a completely different perspective, I had an agent offer, notified the other agents, and then had a second agent offer.

    I ended up taking the second agent, and was wrong. I firmly believe that some agents “jump on the bandwagon” with an offer if they know another agent is interested.

    In my case the book didn’t sell and the agent later dumped me. (I’m not suggesting Sara would do this) The agent I chose swooned the loudest over my book. But that dedication plummeted after one round of submits to editors with no takers. I confused flattery with commitment to selling my book. A mistake I’m trying not to make again. So difficult, these things. Live and learn.

  18. AE Rought said:

    Looking back at my first go-around with agent representation, I should have kept searching and not settled. I was green and blind to the fact that the writing had promise but needed a damn good spanking with edits. She sent it out as-was. Needless to say, she never made a sale, but I learned a lot.

    As to turn around time, that’s the kind of response time us authors dream of. Now that I’m on the agent hunt again, I can only hope for that swift a reply (prayerfully, a request, too ^_^)

  19. WendyCinNYC said:

    It might have nothing to do with speed. Maybe the author just really hit it off with the other agent and just *knew.* Or maybe, as someone else said, the author had been querying for months and it just shook out that way.

  20. Rebecca Knight said:

    This was fascinating, although a bummer for Sara. Thank you for sharing!

    It’s so interesting to see the agent’s perspective. I never thought you’d ever be benefitted by having a faster turnaround time. I just thought you’d have to pace yourselves with everything just to keep sane ;).

    Kristin, when you find something with potential, do you try to jump all over it? Or do you let Nature take its course?

  21. Kristin Laughtin said:

    To all the commenters who are saying the author should have given this agent a chance to read the full before signing with someone else: perhaps that first agent was her dream agent, or someone she really hit it off with.

    Still, that’s an amazing turnaround time! And I wish the author the best o fluck with ehr career.

  22. jimnduncan said:

    Typically, I have to agree. Writer should notify agents who have requested pages about impending representation. Having a choice is not such a bad thing really. However, if that agent was someone I really wanted and the other agents weren’t, I probably wouldn’t worry so much.

  23. Maggie Stiefvater said:

    I have to say I think it was a bit tacky of the author to not let Sara know that it was being considered/ that she/ he had an offer. I had multiple agents interested and even when I thought I knew who I was going with, I waited for all the responses (and am glad that I did, as I changed my mind).

  24. Anonymous said:

    Apparently it wasn’t fast enough in this instance. About the only thing the author might have done was alert Sara to another agent’s offer of representation and give her the opportunity to read the full and make her own offer if so inclined. Other than that, sometimes you git the b’ar and sometimes the ‘bar gits you’

  25. brian_ohio said:

    First of all… here we authors are waiting to hear from agents, meanwhile, agents can’t get through the pile fast enough. Amazing.

    I’m not sure if I did it right or not, but last October your agency requested a partial of my manuscript, within a day or two of sending it, I received an offer from another agent and took it. I immediately sent out emails to all agents with partials that I had taken an offer. It hadn’t dawned on me that you might not see that email until you’ve already invested your time. I hope that wasn’t the case, you guys are awesome. And super busy.

    I did try to use proper etiquette.

    If you or the other agents had the FULL manuscript, I would have allowed for reading time, of course.

    Having suffered through some bad experiences in this industry… I just didn’t want a really great offer to slip away. We authors are a very pessimistic bunch.

  26. lynnrush said:

    Yeah, that is a bummer.

    I, too, suggest chocolate, but I’m partial to milk chocolate. 🙂

    That’s a fast time frame. You’ll get the next one, Sara. It’s all good.

  27. behlerblog said:

    So from query to asking for full—10 days. Ain’t that fast enough? Ah, the old “ya snooze, ya lose.” I had a query from a Los Angeles news icon. It arrived on a Friday night – 8 p.m. I read it right then and there – and immediately called his representative. We talked again over the weekend. Short story; we signed him that next weekend.

    Random House called to ask if we’d really signed him (they saw the announcement in PM). Yes, indeedy, sez me. Bummer, sez they. I never felt so great in all my life.

    On the flip side, an agent snared an author (totally fair and square)that we took too long to consider. I blinked, and she signed with the agent and went on to nab a gabajillion dollar deal. Way cool for her.

    So I sympathize with Sara. Sometimes you blink, sometimes you don’t, and it feels great. Next time, Sara!

  28. Janet said:

    Talking about not fast enough: a member of a writers’ forum I’m on received a request for a full on Friday and wondered if it was OK to do some final polishing over the weekend before submitting it on Monday. Of course, we said, a couple of days is never an issue. Early Monday morning the agent emailed and said he was offended by her lack of response and was withdrawing his request.

    I don’t think I’ve ever been so floored. Never heard of that kind of nonsense before. We told her she’d dodged a bullet. She came to see it our way, but she was pretty shaken at first. She was only five minutes away from sending it.

    And no, I don’t know who the agent was, just that it was a man. He sounds like a prima donna anyway.

  29. Diana Peterfreund said:

    This is a case by case basis kind of thing. In most cases, one ought to inform the other agents of the pending offer before accepting. BUt if you know in advance that this agent is The Agent that you want to work with, then why not just take the offer?

    We don’t know what the situation is with this writer and the agent — maybe they have a long history of looking for the right project together.

    My agent and I went back and forth on three projects before I sent her one she thought she could sell. And when I sent it, she offered within half an hour.

  30. susiej said:

    Hmm, I wonder if in hindsight, it was a clue that it took the author four days to send the sample pages. He/she didn’t sound as radically exicted frothing at the mouth as I would have been.

    Sorry Sara.

  31. Anonymous said:

    At the point when I got an offer of representation, I had two requests for partials from agents (that I had not yet responded to), one partial in an agent’s hands, and one full manuscript in another agent’s hands. (It was at the very beginning of my query process.)

    The person I got the offer of representation from was my dream agent.

    I informed the agent with the full that I had an offer of representation and got a rejection within minutes.

    I scheduled a long phone conference with her; I discovered she got my book, and had good ideas for revisions before going on submissions, that she shared a philosophy with me on writing, and was someone I could work with. I accepted her offer and then informed all the other agents that I was withdrawing my materials.

    I thought about doing otherwise, but ultimately it just didn’t make sense. I could have gotten the other agents to read quickly, but once I felt like my dream agent “got” my book and was going to do the best she could for me, that was it. Why ask an agent to take hours and hours out of her busy day if I know I won’t consider her? If I’d thought there was any chance I would consider the other handful of agents, I would have given them a shot.

    It sucks for Sara, but in a case like that “faster” might not have helped.

  32. Elissa M said:

    The really good ones are going to be obvious to most agents, and will be snapped up quickly. Like a lot of things in publishing, sometimes it comes down to luck.

    Maybe next time the luck will be on Sara’s side.

  33. SirBruce said:

    I think you’re a victim of other literary agencies that are too slow. Authors are forced to contact many agents at once; otherwise it would take years to go through them all.

    That said, the author would have been wise not to accept the other agent’s offer right away, and waited to hear back from you (and notified you that they’ve had an offer). Would you have been willing to give concenssions on your standard contract in order to land the author? Or would you drop the author for trying to wrangle a better deal?

  34. Anonymous said:

    Janet, I agree. She dodged a bullet. Sending out a manuscript within one business day of a request is incredibly fast. Most people I know respond within one week.

    The guy sounds like a loon.

  35. Anonymous said:

    Wow, an unpublished writer turning the tables on an agent and bumming her out? Disappointing an agent with a small hint of rejection?

    How novel.

    Who is this innovator? I simply must buy his work when it comes out. Maybe I can get a signed copy…

  36. Dewie said:

    That’s okay, Sara– you just go and reject the next thousand queries and show those unpublished weenies who’s the boss! Vengeance is mine, sayeth the agent.

  37. Anonymous said:

    To me, a partial request doesn’t indicate serious interest. I think the writer was right in going w/ the agent who wanted the full right away…I had an agent sit on a 20-pg partial for over two months until I nudged–at that rate, I’d be waiting forever (still am)…

  38. Anonymous said:

    Some agents request a partial with the query. Big deal. When agents constantly boast of how many tens of thousands of quotes they get a year, the numbers are against the unpublished writers; hence, they’ve got to query and query heavy. I know agents would like to live in that old fantasy world of “Query one agent at a time!”, but the stone cold truth is not every agency has a fast turn around like Nelson Literary; anyone else ever wait six months for a form letter saying no?

    Kudos for a ten day turn around, ladies. If everyone could be depended upon for such speed and consistency, we would be able to follow the old rules and go one agency at a time. And if only gas were free and carbon dioxide wasn’t a pollutant…

  39. Anonymous said:

    Maggie –

    How the heck was it tacky? The author found another agent and accepted representation. Then he or she notified Sara of such. The author covered his or her bases.

    I’m sorry that Sara is disappointed, but at least the author didn’t waste Sara’s time.

  40. Maggie Stiefvater said:

    Anon — I think it’s tacky because if the author was interested enough in Sara to query her, then she should’ve been interested enough to give her an opportunity to read and offer and give her two cents worth as well.

    Just my thought on the matter — obviously, as that’s what I did. 😉

  41. Deb said:

    I know of another (otherwise reputable) agency who takes 6-8 months to read a query and either say no or request a partial. Come ON. Who wouldn’t query multiple agencies with this going on?

    There’s also those web sites that say, “If we don’t want it, you’ll never hear anything.” No, thank you. This is just poor business practice. I put all those agencies on my C list and never wound up sending them anything…I signed a year ago with the agent at the very top of my A list, who WAS into responses and businesslike things of that nature.

    A couple of years ago, however, I received an e-mail, unsolicited, from an agency I’d never heard of, to whom I’d never sent anything. It rejected “my books” and wished me luck establishing representation elsewhere.

    I sent an e-mail back saying that unfortunately I could not accept unsolicited rejections at that time, and since that was true, I now considered them my agency of record, and would expect the contract very shortly.

    Don’t think they were amused, though.

  42. Anonymous said:

    So where did Sara go wrong? She didn’t ask for the full in the first place. She took six days to read the sample pages. Never mind when the writer uploaded it, that is her perogative.

    Maybe Sara was busy with other clients. But don’t cry when you find out another agent didn’t wait. Obviously he/she was so impressed with the query that he must have asked for the full and read it promptly.

    The writer did nothing wrong (other than write a great manuscript). It was not like YOU HAD A FULL AND INVESTED THE TIME IN READING IT. And even then, she’d still have the perogative to choose the agent she felt was best to sell her manuscript.

    The only time an agent can cry foul is if the writer had signed with another agent and didn’t bother to email the ones she was rejecting.

    Now that it doesn’t cost a writer for the paper and shipping, better to ask for the whole file if the query shows such promise. You have only yourselves to blame if you miss out.

  43. Janet said:

    Anonymous 1:44, as a writer you should brush up on reading for meaning. Nowhere in the post did Kristen blame the author or say she had done anything wrong. She was just expressing disappointment at the one that got away, especially because it got away at such speed. And why not? Writers lament quite publicly about these kinds of frustrations all the time. Them’s just the breaks.

    There was no need for a snooty comeback here. You’re the only one assigning blame.

  44. Anonymous said:

    Boo hoo hoo–cry me a river! When will agents realize they’re not the only fish in the sea?
    A smart writer knows not to wait forever (or even 10 days) on a partial request when an offer is in the works. Way to go!

  45. Anonymous said:

    Janet, you may be a pastor’s wife, but I don’t appreciate the preaching here.

    Anyone hoping to become a published author should know about subtext. I think you may have missed it.

    I offered words of advice to Sara that I hope she takes to heart. Next time, she’ll be able to snag that great catch in time and not be, as Kristin said, “hugely bummed.”

    Wishing everyone, agents and writers alike, success.