Tuesday, February 28, 2012

February Requests: FAQs

Last month, I wrapped up January Query Month with a FAQs post. Found it so successful, decided to do it again with February Requests. Real people asked real questions, and I answered them. In this post. "Requests" covers the time between when an agent asks for a partial or full based on your query, to the offer/rejection. What to do when the offer actually comes, will be covered in another topic month.
  • If an agent requests a certain page count and I include a title page, does that count as part of the total pages? What about if the page request cuts off almost at the end of a scene? Is it okay to send the rest of the scene?
    • Firstly, no the title page does not count into the the total pages. Secondly, you are giving this matter way too much thought. Relax. I can answer your second two questions two ways: 1 It's so rare the agent will get to the end of your partial that they won't ever notice how you leave off (harsh, but true). 2 We'll be so riveted by the story that if you end in the middle of a ... we'll be screaming for more (by the way, do you see how annoying that is?). My preference is for you to end the scene, the sentence at the very least. If you've set up your scenes properly, we'll be wanting to know what happens next, more so than if you end in the middle of a ...
  •  I know agents expect (unless otherwise noted on their guidelines) for writers to multi-submit when querying. But is it acceptable to query agents and e-publishers at the same time? And if so, what would be the proper Nudge Etiquette if an agent has your full and an e-publisher has made an offer?
    • This is a huge pet peeve of mine.It doesn't make sense to me for a writer to query both agents and small /e presses at the same time. You need to decide what you want. Big press or small press? By querying both, you're sorta saying "I'll just nab the first thing that comes along." Not necessarily the best thing (not saying that e-pubs or small pubs aren't the best thing--it's apples and oranges, and you can only have one). Of course, this is just opinion and I'm sure many other agents and professionals will tell you it's perfectly acceptable. I won't discriminate against a writer if they nudge me with an offer from a small/e press.
    • The Nudge is the same as if you'd had an offer from an agent, except instead of Agent it's small/e-press. Blog post here.
  • Do you typically ask for R&R via phone or email?
    • Email. I've mostly sworn off springing huge news on a person over the phone. I love hearing their squees, but they usually censor themselves way too much for me to get a really good kick out of it. Plus, they need time to process information before we talk particulars. Usually, I'll send an email with my general thoughts and an R&R request. If they agree to the general revisions and terms, I'll send particulars and talk via phone if we both want/need to.
  • How far into a manuscript does an agent get before they know it's one they want to represent?
    • Usually by ten pages in, definitely by 50, I can tell if I'm going to read the whole ms. Depending on how voice, characters, and plot hold up, I'll ask for an R&R or offer representation. Rarely do I get all the way to the end of a ms and just reject it. I got to the end for a reason.
  • If an agent sees a query & 1 ch and gives feedback, saying fix this and send it to me, do they want you to query them again?
    • Sorta. You're going to send another email, with something like "Requested: Revised YA Romance" in the subject, a recap of previous correspondence and revisions (include query and paste all correspondence in the email below the important stuff). Attach or paste (depending on the format previously requested) the revisions (if they only read and commented on the first chapter, probably just send the first chapter). OR, you can do all of the above except for sending the revisions and wait for the agent to ask for it. But if an agent spends that much time on it and says "send it to me," they WANT to see it again.
  • If you pitch an agent at a conference (or bathroom stall), and they request it, does this replace the query letter? In other words, do you need to query the agent--should a query be included if the manuscript is requested?
    • Include the query. Even though we didn't see the query, just heard your pitch, we need a recap of what it is and a query is the best way to do it. If you gave us a one-line zinger that we responded favorably to, make sure that's included too. Anything to spark our memory and original interest. Do not assume the agent remembers your pitch (I remember very, very few pitches, and usually remember the worst ones the best).
  • Some months ago I had an agent request my full manuscript and request 8 weeks to read it. They confirmed receipt of my manuscript and I politely waited 9 weeks before sending a nudge email. The nudge email was quickly responded to, stating that they were still reading my manuscript and would let me know as soon as they made a decision. It has since been 4 weeks since the nudge response and it is somehow more difficult to wait without an expected date for their response. I've heard from several sources that I should now wait, at least, 3-6 months before sending a second nudge email.
    • This question actually doesn't come up that often (read, never), so I can only speak for myself and cannot attest to the opinions of other agents (catch an #askagent discussion on Twitter or ask on other agent blogs for a diversified answer). I'd say 4 weeks for a second nudge.
Questions and answers added 2/29 (happy Leap Day!)
  • An agent passes on one project but asks to see future projects. Do we need to attach the old correspondence as a reminder, or is it enough to highlight that fact in the query - especially if it's been, say, a year since? (And can we highlight the fact in the subject line somehow?)  
    • To be on the safe side, yes, paste the correspondence in the email. I personally can swing both ways on this, but it's nice to have a reminder, especially in our own words. And yes, put it in the subject line. You'll get a much faster response that way. We requested more for a reason. We WANT to see more. You're a safer bet than everyone else in the slush pile, and worth our time.
  • I nudged an agent after 6 months. She responded with enthusiasm and asked for more time. Six months later, I nudged. She responded with enthusiasm and asked for more time. Rinse and repeat for the last two years. 
    • Either nudge a lot sooner, or give that agent up as lost. Do you really want to work with an agent who takes that long to respond? Or even an agent who obviously isn't in love with your ms? And, from an agent's POV, if your ms isn't eliciting a "gotta have it" response, you may need to revisit your ms or work on something new. You've probably fallen into the dreaded Middle Pile (post here) and need a little spark to jump you out of it. 
  •  A question on fulls-- if an agent has your full for a long time, is it ever a good thing? Unfortunately I stalk query-tracker, and saw that an agent who has had my MS for over 4 months requested a full and rejected it the next week. This was a week or so ago. I have nudged, but to no avail. Could he be hanging on because he's waiting for the right time? 
    • There are lots of reasons he may not have responded. Wait two-four weeks after that nudge and nudge again. He may not have received your email. He may be waiting for a break in his schedule to spend a bit of time on a rejection/revision request/offer. He may be finishing reading it and meant to get to you sooner. He may have jotted a note on a sticky note to respond to you, but it got stuck to the bottom of his shoe. Point is, nudge again. It could be a good thing, it could be a bad thing, it could be a meh thing. No way of knowing.
That's it!

If you have more questions about this process, please leave them in the comments of this post and I'll add to this post.

Happy writing!

    16 comments:

    Laura Renegar said...

    Great information. Thanks!

    Tobi Summers said...

    Thank you for these informative posts. They help me out so much!

    M. Christine Weber said...

    Vickie, I love these FAQ posts and appreciate how detailed your answers are. SO. GOOD.

    Also? Your response to the question of cut off sentences and scenes made me . . .

    Laugh.

    :0)

    Eric Steinberg said...

    Thanks for another informative post.

    I have a question about conference pitches that I thought of after reading through.

    When doing a formal (or informal) pitch at a conference, is it permitted/good practice to have something to hand them, if they are interested, on the spot (query letter, pages, etc.)? OR, is it better to email everything later?

    Thanks again!

    Gina Maxwell said...

    This was great, Vickie. Thanks!

    Reagan Philips said...

    Thanks for doing this. The January and February posts have been very helpful. I'm looking forward to the next topic.

    Sophia Chang said...

    Thanks for this post Vickie!

    My question:

    An agent passes on one project but asks to see future projects. Do we need to attach the old correspondence as a reminder, or is it enough to highlight that fact in the query - especially if it's been, say, a year since? (And can we highlight the fact in the subject line somehow?)

    Matthew Bryant said...

    Thanks, Vickie! I honestly think I learn more from your quips than just about anywhere else on the net.

    ladonna watkins said...

    Thanks for the information.

    Martha Ramirez said...

    I'm really digging these Q and A. Keep it up! Good info.

    Kimberly said...

    I love your blog. Your posts are so helpful and I look forward to reading them.

    Kirk Kraft said...

    Very enlightening, Vickie. Thanks for sharing!

    Huntress said...

    Regarding requests for fulls:
    I nudged an agent after 6 months. She responded with enthusiasm and asked for more time.

    Six months later, I nudged. She responded with enthusiasm and asked for more time.

    Rinse and repeat for the last two years.

    Jina said...

    A question on fulls-- if an agent has your full for a long time, is it ever a good thing? Unfortunately I stalk query-tracker, and saw that an agent who has had my MS for over 4 months requested a full and rejected it the next week. This was a week or so ago. I have nudged, but to no avail. Could he be hanging on because he's waiting for the right time?

    Susan Fields said...

    Great questions and answers - thanks!

    agustin rahayu said...


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