Is it wrong to expect an answer back from an agent who requests a full manuscript?
An agent enthusiastically requested my full almost eight months ago and emailed me when she received it, saying "I'm reviewing it now and will get back to you soon."
Twelve weeks later, after no word back, I sent a polite nudge. She immediately responded, apologizing for the delay and telling me she planned to get back to me "in the next couple of weeks."
I did not hear back. After another twelve weeks, I sent a short, polite nudge. This time she did not reply at all.
In the meantime, we tweeted back and forth twice about general topics (not my ms!). She's always been friendly.
In a last-ditch (probably ill-advised?) effort a month later, I sent one last nudge. I apologized if somehow my email had been lost in cyberspace, mentioned my new WIP and that I was excited to hear the head of her agency speak at an upcoming conference, and asked where my MS stood. This was 28 weeks after sending my full.
No response. I have to admit I'm embarrassed, mystified, angry, and disappointed at the same time. I would prefer a short "I'm no longer interested" over this complete radio silence. I'm starting to doubt myself, wondering if my three short, well-spaced (I thought) nudges over eight months have offended her in some way.
I know agents are swamped. But am I wrong to think it would be common courtesy to let me know where I stand? Or is "no response a no" when it comes to full manuscripts?
Note: I haven't stopped everything to wait for this agent. I've continued querying, have had a couple other requests (one still out) and am working on another novel in the meantime.
I read through your blog and didn't see anything addressing how long a writer should hold out hope in a situation like this. I apologize if I missed an entry that would help me!
My first thought on getting questions like this is to wonder if they're about me. I have manuscripts in my requested full queue that have been there for quite some time.
One thing I've learned from doing this blog and from listening to writers at conferences is that agent's silence makes writers crazy. It took me a while to realize that responding to nudges even with the very lame "sorry, I just haven't read it yet" is mortifying but better than silence.
Now when I request a full I specifically say it's ok to check in as needed, and it's ok to do so on the WRITER'S schedule. For anxiety prone folks that's once a month. For the calmer ones, it's less often.
And surprisingly, for MANY of the writers in my queue it's not at all. With permission to check in, they don't feel the need to. Interesting isn't it?
And agents know this pain first hand. There are editors who don't reply. Don't reply to pitches, don't reply to submissions. We talk about those editors All The Time amongst ourselves. And share names. And often, remove them from lists of editors we submit to.
So, yes, you deserve a reply.
Yes, it's rude of this agent to not reply.
But, what to do? Exactly what you have been: keep querying. Nudge every 90 days. I've signed and sold manuscripts that languished for a year. (But the author did hear from me in that time, I must say.)
You might check in on AbsoluteWrite to see if other authors are experiencing this delay with this agent.
And bottom line: you know something now about how this agent conducts business. How you treat the people you don't "have to" be polite to says a lot about character.