January 26, 2011

"After The Call": Please, Please Contact the Agents Who Have Your Query!

Yesterday morning, I came across a tweet from Agent Jessica Faust that made me cheer:

If you get offer of rep, notify even those agents who have queries (if you're interested in them repping you too) so everyone has equal time.

Yes! Yes! This is such great advice!

See, when I received my first offer of representation, I had no idea what to do with the agents who had my query. I had 9 outstanding queries---and I would've loved to get these agents' responses. But at the same time, I'd often heard that I should only notify the agents who had my full or partial. So what to do? What to do?

Then I came across this post by Agent Elana Roth. In the post, Ms. Roth talked about her frustration over reading a query, getting interested in it, and then learning that the author had already accepted an offer elsewhere. Her reaction was three-fold:

First: well, shucks. Second: How did that happen in the 2 weeks since the query came in? And third: why didn't you tell me you got an offer?

After reading this, I thought to myself: "Well, what do I have to lose?" I decided to send notifications to the 9 agents who had my query (I had sent these queries in the past month) and here are the results...

1 No response
1 Form rejection
2 Personalized rejections, wishing me the best (They were so nice!)
5 Requests to read the full!

I was blown away. I thought most of the agents would 1.) ignore me, or 2.) reject me straight away. But over half wanted to read my material! Indeed, TWO of the agents told me they had planned on requesting my novel, but simply hadn't had the time to do so yet. Squee! And so, I sent off my manuscript ASAP and crossed my fingers.

This happened almost a year ago, but I'm so glad I went ahead and alerted the agents. (Ultimately, they all passed but two were close calls.) Now, whenever a friend of mine gets an offer, I always tell her to notify the agents who has her queries. What does she have to lose, right? And you know what? Several of these agents have gone on to offer representation to my friends. So cool, right?

Of course, there are a couple guidelines to stick by when doing this.

First, make sure the agents don't have a policy where they only want to be notified concerning partials and fulls.

Second, I would only notify the agents who haven't replied to you in the past four weeks or so. Any longer than that, I would figure that the agent isn't interested. (But that's just me.)

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Be sure to post any questions if you have any! :)

ETA: My friend Corinne Duyvis brings up a good point. Some agents take longer than a month to respond to queries so you may want to bump up your time-table to two months rather than one. Thanks, Corinne! 


  1. This worked out pretty well for me, too -- I ended up with several more full requests!

    That said, I don't quite agree with your second guideline. Some agents take much longer than four weeks to respond, and e-mails go lost sometimes. (I queried an agent, never got a response, and requeried him several months later on the advice of one of his clients -- ended up with a full request.) So if you're really interested in a particular agent, maybe go two months, max?

  2. That's a good point, Corinne! I chose one month, but I think two months is perfectly reasonable as well!

  3. Great suggestion! Good to know for when (hopefully, crossing my fingers) that offer comes. :)

  4. I make good points. *preen*

    I've really been enjoying this series, by the way. You're right that it's not something blogged about that often!

  5. Great post! Natalie Fischer said the same thing a few weeks ago. Until then, I thought you only contact agents who have your partial or full.

    Good advice about the time frame, though some agents do take longer to get back to you on a query.

  6. Lindsay, thanks!

    Janet, I'm sure you're going to get an offer before you know it! :)

    Corinne, thanks! I've had a lot of fun writing this series. I hope it's helpful!

    Stina, I didn't realize Natalie had posted about this! Very cool, I'll have to check out her blog.

  7. Great post Caroline, I am saving all these up for when I need them :)

  8. Hi, I followed a link on twitter to get here. I'd like to be in this position. I have queries out now. I haven't gone crazy, but if an agent wanted to see my full I'd notify the others. What have you got to lose? And it's cool not to burn any bridges. Happy writing.