A couple of months ago, an agent requested my full m/s. I got very excited... but he didn't come back to me. Kindly JW community members advised me to chase - so I did. And he STILL hasn't come back to me!
What would you do now? I'm thinking I might try the JW m/s critiquing service. This is my fourth novel, and this request for the full m/s is the furthest I have yet reached in the process. I could just stick it in the drawer with the others, but I still do believe in this story and I feel the protagonist will resent me and possibly haunt my dreams if I put her into storage.
I definitely can't chase the agent again, can I? Or should I? What would you do?
I do find it strange that most agencies have a policy of not replying at all if they don't like your submission. I would have thought it would be very easy for them to set up an automated, computerised reply, to tell you your submission has been unsuccessful, rather than having you hang on for 12 weeks, waiting in hope.
Agreed! I had a rejection from one agent who gave me feedback that was so useful. I wrote a couple of lines to tell him I really appreciated the time he took. I'd rather have a constructive no than the unanswered hope of a full ms request followed by silence.
Thank you, Lynn, I get it. And I imagine quite a lot of people submit, without paying any attention to guidelines, which is a waste of everyone's time. And I'm totally with you on not replaying to the fulls - not that I'm at that stage yet!
I'm a bit late to this but here's my two penn'orth. I've been ghosted by agents in the past and lost hope but more than 10 years later I discovered Jericho and realised that a dozen agents who didn't want my work back then does not mean it's crap. That, some useful webinars and a realisation that I may not have another decade to waste have made me think about this whole submissions thing differently, using stuff I learnt in business.
1.Agents are Sales people. ' Agent' means someone who represents a person or organisation ie us, so we need to approve them at least as much as they approve us. I know the power looks like it runs the other way when we're practically begging them to take us on, but that's the actual situation. They make money because we write something good and they know who to sell it to that we can't easily approach directly.
2. It's difficult to believe it when agents themselves say if you get an offer of representation, from an agent, think hard about taking them on. Most of us would bite the hand off any agent that requests a full draft and then offers to 'accept' us. But if our two personalities don't meld sufficiently, we won't work well together. To get the best from them we need them to 'get' us and love what we're trying to achieve. And then we need to be sure they have the right contacts and abilities to be able to sell our work and get the deal we deserve. Plus, the less we believe in ourselves, the less we give them to work with on our behalf.
3. I had nearly 30 years of working with sales people where I was buying from them or helping them sell to other companies, they always take the line of least resistance. What motivates them is money ie in our case, a cut of our money. But there are plenty of people chasing agents so they don't have to worry about making some money when they first look at your stuff. At that stage all decent submissions have an equal chance.
4. Remember our submission is a sales document too - the first stage is to fulfill all their requirements - they call them 'submission guidelines' but really they're telling us how to get over the first hurdle. If we send them our best stuff, and don't give them an easy way to say no/ghost us they'll look at it, eventually because some stuff in the slush pile is going to be gold and why shouldn't it be ours?. So read what they say they want - both about presentation of your work and what they want to sell - genre, style of writing etc. Then do exactly what they say so they have no excuse for deleting your email in the first minute, which they will do if you make them think you aren't up to your job. But remember, however good it is they won't want everything that's decent - they haven't time to work on it. It isn't personal.
5. Don't send out your work to one agency at a time, send it to lots and tell them you're doing it. That puts them on notice that they're in a competition with their rivals.
6. Flatter them a little - eg 'I loved your client X's book and noticed how well it was promoted.' or 'I saw you on the Jericho Webinar discussing X and enjoyed hearing your take on...' We're all human after all. But no brown nosing - they can tell.
7. Be professional - if you've met all their conditions and done your best, that's all you can do. Plenty more fish... Don't beg, they won't respect you for it.
8. I really recommend Sophie Hannah's 3 hour webinar about Dream Goals - it's on the Jericho website. I watched it in 3 goes and found quite a lot I could relate to, Her main idea is don't bury your potential: if you think your work is publishable, then create a submissions package as if your work is as good as your favourite comparative author, submit it to the agencies you would really like to represent you (as long as they are accepting submissions and in accordance with their guidelines) and behave at all times as though you deserve to be treated professionally by them. Just be quietly confident, not brash.
I agree with nearly everything you say, Maggie - except for mentioning that you're approaching other agents, as you suggest in point 5. Agents are likely to have egos and want to feel that they are a special choice. I don't think it's helpful to remind them that they are one of many you're approaching, even though they'll realise that's what you're doing. In fact, I believe it's a good idea to mention the agency by name in your cover letter - and use the flattery, if possible, as in point 6. Otherwise, well said.
I know what you mean Blakeney and used not to do this but the other day, searching on Agent Match and then some agency websites, I saw that one or two said specifically to mention that you are sending out to other agents.
Also, in Q & As on Jericho webinars I have heard agents say that it has changed because nobody believes you're only going to send things out one at a time then wait weeks and months for a response before trying someone else. I think it shows a business-like approach but if you feel it might not help then don't.
And I would always mention each agency by name in a cover letter as well as changing the letter to meet each agency's rules and highlight any relevant clients/books they've represented that you particularly like, which would help with the ego point.