Monday, May 18, 2020

Requested fulls met with silence

I’ve been querying a novel with a good response rate for more material. Some rejected early on, and then I hired a freelance editor recommended by my Sisters in Crime chapter leader, an award winning author. The editor, who has worked with many traditionally published authors, enjoyed the story and said her edits were light. She ending up charging me less than the original estimate because it didn’t require much work. 

I began querying with renewed vigor. More requests! And now...I’ve been waiting anywhere from 5 months to over a year to hear back from four agents on the full. What...what on earth? Is this timeline normal? 

I’ve mildly nudged the 2 who’ve had it the longest and still nothing. I recognize that we are now in A Very Strange Time and responses may be delayed, but I celebrated a 1 year anniversary with an 
agent long before this. NB: they are all reputable agents. Is it time to assume these are rejections and retreat, weeping?

There are two problems here.
The first is slow response time.
The second is lack of communication.

I'm not one to point fingers about laggardly response times.
I've got things in my to be read stack that have been here a year or more.'
That's NOT the norm, which I am reminded of (to my everlasting mortification) when I see agents on Twitter say they are all caught up on fulls as of the previous month.

So yes, it can take a while.
Some of us a good long while.

BUT, in my defense I will say that when an author nudges, I do reply.

To hang on to something for a year, and not reply when nudged, that's a bad combination.

I understand not wanting to be nudged. It's VERY embarrassing to be reminded one is being a slowpoke.

If you've sent something, and it's been a year without any kind of communication, the first thing I'd advise doing is make sure the agent is still alive, and still working, and moreover at the same agency.  All three of those things can cause delayed replies.

But, if the agent is alive, and in the right place, and still not responding, well, now you know something you didn't know before.

It's up to you about withdrawing.
Some authors do, just to keep themselves sane.
Some authors don't, thinking "well, ya never know."

Do the one that makes you feel least-crazy.

Mt. St. Helens May 18, 1980


E.M. Goldsmith said...

It is a slow game, this publishing thing. I hope, OP that you continue to query even with 4 fulls out. And that you are working on the next book. That seems to be the best way to deal with the slowness of the industry.

Good job in getting the requests. Well-done.

nightsmusic said...

EM is right. Continue to query. Unless you've had an offer of representation, you are beholden to no one and should continue to query. In the meantime, write that second or third or fourth book. Keeps you busy, keeps your mind off the waiting (to an extent) and when you're offered representation, you'll have more to offer the agent.

KMK said...

Totally agree with EM! When my agent offered rep, I had a good two dozen requested fulls from three different projects out, some six months old. A small but significant number of those agents never even responded to my notice of the offer. A full request feels like you are one step away from victory -- and you ARE -- but it could still be a while. My advice: take a full request as a sign that your query is working...and keep at it!

Kelly said...

Question for KMK - how did you juggle the multiple subs from three different projects? Specifically, when you got an offer of rep for the one project, did you then offer to share that project with the agents who had different fulls? Or did you tell them you got an offer, but not mention the specific project? Did the offering agent like all three of the projects you had out? I'm finding myself in a similar situation and I'm not sure I like how it feels and I'm wondering if I should just stick with querying one project at a time.

KMK said...

Kelly, I really wouldn't stick to one project at a time, because you never know who will love what -- and the timelines are LONG. I had a different email for each manuscript I was querying, and when the offer came, I notified everyone who had any of the three projects, and told them what the offer was for. One or two wanted to read the other things, and several others just weren't interested in my other work. In the end, I signed with the first agent to offer because I felt right with him, and because it was clear that this project was the most saleable one (it's now my debut!). The funny part is, it's not the one I thought I loved the most...but going through the publication process with it, I fell in love all over again! Long answer, but I hope it helps!

Nom de plume said...

OP here. Thanks for your insight, Janet! And I really appreciate everyone's perspective. I'll continue to wait on that one while I revise my latest. If quarantine has taught me anything (besides that I watch too much Netflix) it's that patience is a virtue. Hope the Shark and all the Reiders have a fantastic day.

Cecilia Ortiz Luna said...


Your posts gave me an Aha! moment relating to my own stuff.

Thank you.

Kelly said...

Thank you, KMK! I've had four agents request fulls on two different projects and several rejections on a third project. I kept wondering if I was doing the "right" thing (the story of my life).

Have you told us the details of your debut? I've been saving some of my money during the pandemic with the purpose of supporting authors during this time.

Barbara Etlin said...

Besides the pandemic, here's another possible variable. Could the agent be on maternity leave? Often when this happens they don't inform the queriers and you don't hear anything for months.

Good luck, Nom de Plume!

KMK said...

Cecilia and Kelly, so glad I could help! It's so good to be able to share what I learned along the way. I really appreciate the interest in the book, Kelly! I've mentioned it before, but once again, I truly would not be talking it up right now without all of the help, support and good advice of our Shark and the blog community. The title is A FATAL FINALE, historical mystery from's on the big sites, but your local store can order it, and they need the business.

Brenda said...

Buying it ASAP, KMK.

KMK said...

Many thanks, Brenda! And again to all for the support!