Three weeks ago, I got a Full request from an agent and I quickly submitted my Full to her.
Then last week, another agent emailed me, saying she enjoyed my submission and would be delighted to read the Full, but that the agency only read on an exclusive basis.
I replied back, attaching my Full and confirmed that the first agency still have my Full but haven't yet got back to me and that I promised not to submit my Full to any other agents whilst she was considering it. I asked her if this was agreeable and also for a rough indication of timescale for reading my novel exclusively, but she didn't respond and there is no indication the agency website.
Then, lo and behold, I've just had a third request for my Full this afternoon, but have had to explain to this agent that I can't currently submit my MS to her, as it is out on an exclusive, but would she be prepared to wait for now, until I get clarification from the exclusive agent?
I then dropped Ms Exclusive agent a brief, polite email explaining that I have just received another Full request but have obviously not submitted as I agreed to exclusive arrangement and could she give me a rough idea when she might be able to get back to me?
She still hasn't replied.
I have never had an exclusive request before – I'm assuming Ms Exclusive will read my MS - she didn't reply saying she wouldn't - and I did clarify that it was only with one other agency.
How would you advise that I proceed?!
The first agent who requested my MS, e-mailed me a week ago to say she will be back at work this Monday after a week's holiday and will be in touch this coming week.
Remember when I told you exclusives sucketh the Large Lemon Drop?
Ok, here's where I said it again.
And in case you need that third iteration: Exclusives Stink.
Your first (well, only) mistake was Agreeing To A Deal She Didn't Offer.
She asked for an exclusive.
You sent the ms and ADDED: I won't send this to anyone else till you let me know.
Because she has not AGREED to your offer, you don't have a contract with her. And by contract I mean an agreement about the terms of exclusivity (duration for starters.)
You are free to submit this manuscript to Agent #3.
When (I hope) Agent #1 calls with an offer, you notify Agents #2 and #3 of the offer.
I have no idea why you thought it was a good idea to hamstring yourself with Agent #2 by saying you'd stop sending your work out to people actively asking to see it. That gives Agent #2 more
power over your career trajectory than anyone deserves. You also let her set the terms; NEVER DO THAT. If you're agreeing to something, you offer terms that are favorable to YOU, and let her negotiate.
Exclusives assume an agent's time is more valuable than yours. That is not true and any agent who says that (or thinks it without saying it) has a skewed view of themselves.
Exclusives are never in a writer's best interest and an agent who would ask you to do something that isn't in your best interest is not an agent I'd want to work with (nor should you.)
I will tell you that exclusives seem to be much less prevalent in the YA market where there is a lot of competition for good manuscripts. The YA agents I know read manuscripts overnight, and have notes in the morning for the author on hot projects.
If an agent doesn't like to lose something cause they're slow, there's one easy answer to that: read faster. It's not like we are operating under varying time/space continua.