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Jun 21, 2013, 10:30 AM

Post #1 of 4 (3172 views)
Slow agents Can't Post

I'm new to the Forum. I write poetry, fiction (long and short), non-fiction of various kinds, and am working on my first screenplay. A lot of this is to fill the capacious down time as I try to find an agent for my labor-of-love novel!
Here's my question: how long is too long to wait for an agent to reply - an agent with whom there was some "agreement"?
While at a prestigious writers' workshop in 2011, I met with an up-and-coming agent who said to send my novel when it was finished. A year later, I did just that. The whole ms., as per request. I sent it last Nov.
The last message I received from the agent, after I politely checked in, was a breezy "speak to you soon" - April 30!! I guess some people define "soon" differently....
I think it's fair to assume the agent did not find the beginning gripping. But I was asked for the whole ms., so I would think the agent would try to finish OR tell me it's not a good fit (on the basis of that crucial opener). But ... silence.
What should I do?
P.S. I have submitted to a dozen other agents in the meantime, so I'm not "waiting by the phone" for this one. Needless to say, no one else has offered representation. Could the agent above be waiting to see if I do get a bite???

R.A. Stewart

Jun 21, 2013, 12:25 PM

Post #2 of 4 (3168 views)
Re: [escribo] Slow agents [In reply to] Can't Post

First of all, welcome to the Speakeasy.

There is actually a whole forum here about agents (Main Index --> Writing and Publishing --> Literary Agents, or http://www.pw.org/speakeasy/gforum.cgi?forum=30; ). I haven't explored it much, but I'll bet slow agent questions come up frequently, and you might find an answer more quickly there. Good luck!


Jun 21, 2013, 1:21 PM

Post #3 of 4 (3165 views)
Re: [R.A. Stewart] Slow agents [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you for the tip! Will have a look for sure.


e-mail user

Jun 21, 2013, 1:40 PM

Post #4 of 4 (3161 views)
Re: [escribo] Slow agents [In reply to] Can't Post

in this occupation--and, especially if you are doing screenplays--patience is the cardinal rule. waiting a few weeks, a few months, even the better part of a year is not unheard of in this business; in fact, you will find such waits as the norm. someone waiting until summer (or even fall) to respond to a submission or a communication sent around the holidays comes with the territory. one cannot read anything into that. a rejection, even an acceptance can come after a piece had been held and considered for seven, eight, or ten months. this is especially true for longer form pieces, such as book-length projects. there are all these people sending all these pages and there are only a few eyes available to read them. the slush pile grows larger and larger and, typically, a person reading the work gets further and further behind.

it has gotten much worse in recent years than it was in the 1980's and 1990's. back then, most places in publishing had legions of unpaid interns to read; if one sent a manuscript to a publisher or to a magazine, the response came, typically, within the time period specified by their information. now it is not the case.

nevertheless, your wait does not seem unreasonable, as i have had pieces, plays, and books whose editors/publishers needed almost a year to respond. it would be wise to let the agent call you: contacting the agent before the agent is ready tends to incite the agent or editor to pull your piece and send a rejection immediately, as you may give the impression of being hard to work with or demanding. if you are concerned that it may not have been received by him, a quick communication to see if it had been received is appropriate, but, again, do not request a response, because he will give one quickly, and you will not like it.

the option that always works for most work is to simultaneously submit. but, if you do that, make sure all parties know it is a simultaneous submission. simultaneous acceptance happens more frequently than you may thing (it did to me, twice, and involving the same editors) and not everybody is so excited to work with you that they would overlook such a faux pas in literary courtsey.

j. e. robinson

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