Thursday, January 24, 2013

Thursday Night at the Question Emporium

How does an author handle multiple requests for "exclusive" reads. Let me present an exact scenario:

- On Monday, I send out several queries.
- On Tuesday, Agent A writes back to say, "I'm intrigued. Can I see for the full ms on a two-week exclusive?"
- On Wednesday, Agent B asks to see the full ms as well, exclusive or not.

I've said it before, I'll say it again: EXCLUSIVES STINK. They're almost always never in a writer's  best interest.

If you send it to an agent on an exclusive basis, and they offer you representation, you don't have any time to send it to other agents and perhaps choose from MANY offers.

Agents are not widgets, interchangeable pieces of the Publishing puzzle.

You might not know if an agent is the best choice for you until you've talked with several.

Here's what I think you should do:

1. If an agent requests an exclusive, you say no.  You're polite but honest: You've sent out several queries, you're hoping several agents want to read, you don't want to give an exclusive yet.

2. If the agent won't read your work with that reply, you know something pretty valuable about the agent.

3. If the agent does read despite asking for an exclusive, you've lost nothing.

And to my agent colleagues who request exclusives: get over yourselves.


Tom M Franklin said...

::applause from the sidelines::

-- Tom

Mari Passananti said...

Brava. Well said.

Unknown said...

I am a bit confused by your vagueness. What have I learned from an agent who would not read my manuscript after asking for an exclusive and I deny them exclusivity?

Further, if I received a response for a two-week exclusive on Tuesday after emailing the query on Monday, I would surely give that two-week exclusive to them because it would be another six to eight weeks before hearing back from the rest.

I do enjoy reading your expert advice, and I will certainly keep this in mind if I'm ever asked for an exclusive. To be asked for any read, however, would be exciting enough for me to send the manuscript immediately.

I have more.

Michael Seese said...

As always, Janet, your advice is golden.

FYI, I did just get a request for 3 chapters...NOT exclusive!

SundaySoup said...

I sent out many queries. I got several requests. One was for a one month exclusive from a very well-known and respected agent. I told the agent I was glad they were interested, but I could not give an exclusive because others were readinng and this agent could have it anyway. They declined. I signed with the very best agent (for me) and have absolutely no regrets. Unless it's an agent you've met and know you want to be with, then I agree with Janet and it's in your best interest to query widely (reasonably widely anyway).

Joyce Tremel said...

An answer to Reginald's question: If an agent refuses to read if you don't grant them an exclusive, you've learned that they would be difficult to work with. Would you really want an agent who doesn't have your best interest at heart?

When asked for an exclusive, I always told the agent that others were reading (they were) but I'd be happy to send it anyway. This happened three times and the agents all wanted to read anyway.

Anonymous said...

Oh, no! I didn't even think of this. An agent asked for 4 weeks with the first three chapters, so I granted them. Then she said she wanted the entire manuscript for two months (not weeks - months!) and I got really excited and granted that, too. I realized when I did it that I had to put querying on hold for two months and that stinks. But I guess I just got so excited that I didn't think it through.


Oh well. That's two months lost if she decides she doesn't like it. But I'll have learned something. :) Thank you for this.

furrykef said...

While my experience in this area is zero, I would wager that an agent who would pass because you don't grant an exclusive is probably not excited enough about your work anyway. If they really wanted it, they would gamble on the chance that another agent would beat them to the punch.

Kyler said...

I always had someone reading, so when asked for an exclusive, I simply said I wasn't able to offer one - and only once did someone decline to see it for that reason. Love your take on things, Janet.

Robert Polk said...

Thank you for this advice. I may not juggle the numerous demands pressed upon an agent, but this eager writer would appreciate some latitude if asked for an exclusive. Rejections pile up quickly enough, so please don't prey upon my willingness to place a full with you if I have other queries pending. rob

BP said...

"Get over yourselves" haha :D

Terri Lynn Coop said...

Shark Attack!!

Seriously, thank you. Writers have a commodity they are trying to place. That commodity has a shelf life. If the agent is too busy now, they will be too busy later and a good book may go stale.

The Question Emporium rules.


The Writer Librarian said...

Yet another reason to follow this blog. I will have to do more homework on some of these terms. Before this, the only context I'd seen "exclusive" in was in the tabloids.

Thanks as always for sharing your wisdom!

Anonymous said...

I agree completely. I have had a few agents indicate they would like at my work only if I give them the right exclusively. I say yes. Other agents e-mail me back and forth. Do you think I am going to ignore them because someone asked for it exclusively? I didn't sent it out to anyone else, but I certainly was not going to ignore a potential supporter!