Your Imperial Toothiness,
I have a question for the blog, if possible, which is sort of related to the recent theme of incomplete information.
Suppose Agent A has your full, and after that request you discover some former clients saying concerning things about the practices at the agency to which Agent A belongs (not specifically about Agent A, but about the leadership team there and other agents).
For example, some former clients are telling really similar stories about different agents at the agency just spraying your MS at everyone with no thought or targeting, and then being evasive about giving clients their submission information. If true, these seem like big warning signs about the agency, no matter how cool Agent A seems. On the other hand, obviously you don't have the full story, only tales on the internet.
Is this the sort of thing that is OK to hold off on acting unless and until you get an offer? That is, should you just wait and see whether you get further interest and then raise the issues directly with Agent A so that you can decide once you have better information?
Or is it unethical to just wait and see, and potentially waste Agent A's time reading your full if in the end you're unwilling to take the risk that the rumours/reports are true? If you feel like there's a good chance you're just not going to be comfortable with the agency, should you just withdraw the MS?
Oh man, I love the interwebz! For all the good this new transparency has done for authors, it's also a source of the worst kind of gossip, backbiting and just plain vile lies. Also known as "the other guy's opinion."
For example, a former client says "she just sprayed my manuscript out there with no thought of targeting" is also what I might call "submit widely on the first round."
"Evasive about giving submission information" can mean "she wouldn't tell me which editor saw it at which imprint" --and after a former client called editors on their submission list, I'm a whole lot less likely to share that as a matter of course now, myself.
There are two sides to every sundered representation agreement, and both of them are completely true.
To the nub of your question: I think you're not wasting anyone's time if you have a good manuscript and an agent wants to read it.
If you've got concerns about how an agent submits manuscripts, ASK HER. Don't EVER believe anything anyone else says. Some of the outright lies I've seen on author bulletin boards and discussion groups are flat out actionable, if anyone actually cared about what is said in those places.
Honest to god, some of the backbiting and ugly gossip reminds me of the most recent meeting of the Imperial Storm Troopers Ladies Aid Society.