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Musing 8/29/17– May I Have A Word, Literary Agents?

Wow!  Two Musings in two days, that’s a record!  First I want to say that I’m not trying to offend ANYONE with this post, certainly not people in the industry.  Either way this may or may not get me into a situation but I just need to get this out of my system.

Again, if you’ve been reading my Facebook page, I’ve been writing like crazy lately and am still feeling the mojo but sometimes, I hit a small roadblock when I think of how long I’ve been waiting to hear about past works that have been sent out.  It makes me wonder why I continue to do so when I seldom if ever receive a response. 

Somewhere on this blog, I mentioned how I’ve had a number of agents never respond to queries.  Many are agents who promise to respond to everything.  And this is after waiting for a long time and then nudging and I do mean a LONG time.

Right out I have two full works out to agents.  One I was ecstatic to receive a rewrite and resend request and the other the straight full request.  Now literary agents, believe it not, we writers do know how busy you are.  Not all of us expect an answer in a month or so.  I’ll usually wait for three before nudging and depending on what the agents lists as their response time.

However with these two, I have been waiting for the rewrite and resend it’s been a year from my sending in the R&R and for the other it’s been two years and two months.  I did recently nudge again on the first and re-query on the second but to be honest, I’m not expecting to hear. 

With these long waits I can’t decide if I should put the book aside or not.  I’m assuming there must have been something good about the work, otherwise why ask to see more?  And I have every confidence in this work, and I really don’t want to file it away or start anything different until I get a response one way or the other.  It causes quite a conundrum.

My questions are first, how long are we supposed to wait when you ask for a full manuscript before we assume it’s a no?  Is it really right to leave authors hanging when you’ve practically dangled their dream in front of them?  Agents, if you’re no longer interested after a partial, full or rewrite and resubmit (especially this) is sent then PLEASE do us the courtesy of letting us know.  A simple email with an, “I changed my mind.” will suffice.

I am not talking about the queries. We know some of you get thousands per week.  I am talking about taking an author to the next level and then putting them aside indefinitely.  I often see agents posting on social media about how, “they have lives too,” and authors need to respect that.  Believe it or not, most of us know that and we do.  You shouldn’t lump all writers in with the few who don’t know how to carry themselves.  But you are also running a business and since we writers are expected to behave a certain why, why can’t this professionalism be returned?  I’ve seen other writers ask these question.  I don’t know if they’ve ever gotten a response.  Lately, I’ve just felt the need to open up about how I feel.  I don’t need to tell anyone, writers, agents, publishers, editors, how hard this business is.  We all know.  And we know how long it takes but I don’t believe anyone is so busy that it takes two to three years (not months) to conduct their business.

A few weeks ago, I was trying to enter the Manuscript Wish List program that gave writers the opportunity to have a first page critiqued by a literary agent.  The agents they had chosen have already seen my work, so I emailed the moderator/agent, asking advice on  what I should do or if I should still apply.

I won’t print the actual email responses here because I don’t have permission, however I was advised that it might be too awkward between myself and the agent and it wouldn’t help get my work to the front of the line, which is not what I was trying to do.  I just wanted the same opportunity that they were presenting to other writers.  Then the moderator/agent stated, “Believe it or not, it now takes some agents three to six months to respond.”  I responded with pretty much the same thing I’ve said here, very polite and professional of course and thanked her for her time.  I’m also curious that if this is the norm, shouldn’t agents list these time frames on their pages, so authors won’t bother them with nudges?

This does not mean I plan on giving up, although there were times, I have thought of and actually said I plan to do so.  I’ve always said take the opportunity to wallow if you need to then get back to work.  I just hope someone sees my post and it creates a better understanding of what we writers are going through in this crazy little thing called the publishing industry.



5 thoughts on “Musing 8/29/17– May I Have A Word, Literary Agents?”

  1. So sorry to hear of your experience with agents. I’ve always had agents respond, but I know of other authors who are in similar positions to yours.

    I applaud your persistence. The very fact that you are continuing on this journey shows you’ve got what it takes to be a published writer. The outcome is not in our hands, and in the meanwhile, we keep on what we do best: write, and submit.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow–sounds a bit like modern dating!

    As an unpublished writer on the final stages of editing her novel, I’ve been on the fence about whether to publish traditionally or go indie. On one hand, it seems ridiculous to have to sit on pins and needles waiting for somebody, anybody, to take notice of your work. On the other, it’d be nice to work with someone who’s got a solid understanding of the publishing industry already.

    I’m curious: have you had your other books all traditionally published or some also self-published? Also, what do you think the benefits of going the traditional route are vs. self-publishing?


    1. Hello T.M.! First welcome to my blog! Glad you stopped by. Yes, it is a tough decision. Ultimately, you have to decide which road is best for you. But to answer your questions, my books and stories were published by small presses. I don’t have the finances to self-publish. If you scroll down a bit on my blog I did a post on how much it costs using various services. My original plan was to publish exclusively online and it worked out fine at first but then things began to slow down which is why I recently asked for my rights back. Now I am sending out short stories and decided to search for an agent. With self-publishing, you are responsible for everything — that is, writing, editing, the cover art, promo, distribution, all of which can come up to a pretty penny. I’ve read in other articles you’ll spend more time doing those things then you will writing. Yes, you can get 100% royalties but there is no guarantee you’ll make much at all and bookstores seldom if ever carry self-published work unless you’ve made substantial sales first.

      Now with an agent, they are your gatekeepers to traditional publishing. With the exception of maybe three publishers, none of the Biggies take unsolicited manuscripts. Now there are small presses, some of which can get you a nice piece of change and you get a larger percentage of royalties but with an agent, they handle pretty much everything when dealing with the publishers, like the payments, rights and such. yes, you still have to promote but that’s a given and it can be fun actually but the business side of it, is taken care of by the agent. Me, personally, I want good royalties but I would rather work on creating than worrying about someone making a rights grab.

      So basically like I said you have to do what feels right to you. Much luck to you and I hope I’ve helped even a little!


      Liked by 1 person

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