Friday, February 24, 2012

February Requests: The Nudge

Your query was successful. Congratulations! So, the agent asks to see a partial/full ms and you send it off in the requested format with a short note included either in the email thread or with a proper subject line (see links if you haven't been following my February Requests series--FAQs to come Tuesday).

Then you wait.

And wait.

And wait.

And.... wait.

Step away from the Girl Scout Cookies.

How long should you be waiting to hear back? Firstly, if you've done your research, most agencies and personal agent blogs give an amount of time you should expect to hear back by. It can be anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months, and some say that if you don't hear back it's a no (generally that's only for queries, not manuscript requests).

So wait that amount of time before stressing. Actually don't stress at all. Just because we didn't answer, doesn't mean we hate you. It means we were so busy we didn't have time to get to your ms yet. Most likely, it's sitting happy on our e-reader, waiting, just like you. However, there is a chance it got lost and never made it to the agent. It happens. Sometimes we forget to answer. Sometimes we think we answer but actually didn't.

That's the reason for The Nudge.

The Nudge, when done properly, is perfectly acceptable and a common practice. Don't sweat it. Don't think, "OMG this agent is going to HATE me for bothering them."

No, no, no.

Here's an example of a Nudge:

Dear (agent's name),

I sent you (so many pages) of (title, genre) on (date). I'm just following up to see if you've received the materials and if you've had a chance to read it yet. Our previous correspondence is below. Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.

(closing signature)

Or some slight variation. But short, sweet, to the point. No flowery apologies, no badgering, no "look what I've done since I sent it to you, fancy awards, yippee!". If anything of significant note happens, yes you can slip it in, but by this point, it won't change my mind to whether I love your ms or not.

By the way, my response time is about 2 months. So if you haven't heard from me in 2 months, you may nudge me.

If you have any questions for my Requested Manuscripts FAQs post on Tuesday, please leave them here or on Twitter and I'll do my best to answer them all. Thanks!

Happy writing!


Juliana said...

I'm in this situation. It has been 3 months already but I know the agent is swamped and way behind on queries and requested material, so I'm thinking about giving her another month before nudging.

Thanks for this ;)

Alex Villasante said...

I'm there too - just getting to the two month mark with two agents who have fulls. It's KILLING me. But the fear is also there - that a 'nudge' will turn a 'maybe' into a 'no' I don't really believe that - though I've read posts that say this can happen. But a nudge can bring an answer you don't want to hear. Is knowing better than not knowing? Sometimes it doesn't feel like it!

Lauren said...

Thanks so much for all of this advice. It's really helped me in querying!

Cortney Pearson said...

This is such great advice! I've had to do The Nudge before, and I'm so glad you suggest to add our previous interaction. I reminded the agent of it at the time, but I like the idea of pasting it in there. Thanks!!

Anonymous said...

Good advice.

Brie said...

LOVE all your practical advice; thanks so much for the tips..

Unknown said...

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?

Thanks for all the tips, Vickie.

Mart Ramirez said...

Awesome advice! And good to know your turnaround time. Thanks.

Cassie Mae said...

Oh! I've wanted to know how this was done without being too pushy or too blase. Thank you!

Chantal said...

I'm two weeks away from the 3 month mark for my requested partial and I'm contemplating sending an email. I'm so nervous about it, though!

Unknown said...

How about the second nudge?

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. (It just seems ENDLESS!!)

I've heard from several sources that I should now wait, at least, 3-6 months before sending a second nudge email.

Thoughts? Helpful pieces of advice to keep me from losing my mind?

Martha Ramirez said...

Q for Tuesday.

Scenario: a writer receives an offer of representation and sends an email letting other agents who are considering his/her work know, allowing them an opportunity to make an offer. However, they don't respond by the seventh (or tenth) day. Is it appropriate to phone the agent who hasn't responded to confirm receipt of email?

I ask this because I have a cp who accepted a contract, letting the others know and a week later, she received three more offers. It was as if they never received her note or they hadn't checked their email.

Thank you!

Lisa W. Rosenberg said...

I am almost at this stage; agents requested pages (4 partials, one full) at a conference. I sent requests and am now waiting, though it has not been long enough to "Nudge." Only about six weeks so far.

Thank you so much for the advice and the "Nudge" template. I was just wondering how to handle this when the time comes.

Susan Fields said...

Thanks for another terrific post! I love that you give examples of how to word the correspondence, that is so helpful!

Cynthia Echterling said...

Very informative. Thanks.

Rachel Schieffelbein said...

Thank you! I have always wondered how to do this without sounding like a pain in the neck! :)

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