I want you alllll to myself--thoughts on exclusivity.

Don't do it if you can help it.

If you have to, make sure the agent is someone who is in a serious position to make that exclusivity worth your lost opportunity cost. That means they have sales with books like yours. Recent ones. Do your homework here. A month is the longest I'd ever ever ever agree to exclusivity. Ten days (or two business weeks) would be ok.

And exclusivity is not bondage. If you send something on an exclusive basis, and the agent doesn't get back to you, fire off a letter withdrawing the exclusivity. You don't have to be nasty. Polite is a much much better choice. "I sent you my manuscript Miss Snark Debits Dallas on an exclusive basis on July 17. I hope it's something you'd like to represent. I need to move forward in my quest for representation and plan to send out query letters to other agents on September 1. I appreciate your time and consideration." Give them enough time between when you send the letter and plan to query others --two weeks or so. Make SURE you include an SASE with this letter!!!

I don't ask for exclusivity on anything. I'll ask you if anyone else is reading this. If they are, just tell me. It usually moves you up the list a little but, not much. If Binky Urban or Jenny Bent make you an offer before I get off my snarkie ass...it's my loss.


Anonymous said...

As an agent, I completely agree with Miss Snark on this one. There's no good reason for an agent to demand exclusivity.

Anonymous said...

This is another agent saying he completely agrees. I would never ask an author to submit to me on an exclusive (especially since it sometimes takes me longer than I'd like to wade through all those manuscripts).

Margaret said...

Thanks for this response (I assume to my question) and the one below. I guess I'd always considered the exclusivity a standard once a full manuscript was requested. I appreciate you taking the time to show a broader perspective. And the concept of asking for a timeline is so obvious I'm stunned. It is a lot less stressful for me and makes a whole lot of sense.

I only started reading your blog recently and have found it very interesting. Thanks for sharing.


Miss Snark said...

Yup, you are the reason I wrote the post.
Yer my muse Margaret!

and you're welcome.
I'm glad it helped.

Anonymous said...

Binky Urban or Jenny Bent? Is Jenny Bent in the stratosphere of agents now? Sheesh. I miss everything.

Miss Snark said...

Jenny Bent is a very very HOT agent. If she wants your work, you run, do NOT walk, RUN to the postoffice and send it to her.

She is fast, efficient and good.
I don't work with her or for her. I've never met her.
I've read the books she's sold, and talked to several of her authors at events, and I watch her sales on Publishers Marketplace. Plus, she sells to the same editors I do. You can get a pretty good sense of an agent's clout by listening to what editors say.

Anonymous said...

This is such a good blog I need to rest, stop laughing, get up the guts, and say something.

I send queries exclusively, and I usually get a fast response. I like agents to know I've given some thought to their interests and where my subject might meet those interests. But my query letter (after much polishing) is powerful, and usually does its work.

Then why don't I have a contract? Well, it's complicated, but it's not the fault of the agents--every one exclusive, of course, for the time they looked at my proposal, and pretty much every one of them tops. Even Jenny Bent.

Miss Snark said...

You are sending a proposal out and getting a lot of no's? Do you get reasons? Real ones or "it's just not my cup of tea"?

It might be time to invest in a class or some time with a free lance editor.

Agents are looking hard for good stuff. If you've got it and it's just getting lost in a crummy proposal it's worth an investment.

Anonymous said...

Well, it's been a long learning curve with the proposal--but the problem's not in the writing (or so I'm told).

It's a historical detective story, and... (Hey! You're pitching your book. In public, no less! Stop that!)

Long and short, the latest I'm hearing is that it's not broad enough to be commercial, but would find a good regional press. If I believed that, I wouldn't have spent months and years seeking agent representation--and will continue to do so. (Crazy, stupid....!)

But that wasn't Jenny Bent's thing. She wanted a different book, and I couldn't give it to her. Damn!

Miss Snark said...

Is this fiction or non fiction?
If you don't want to do this in public, you can email me at misssnark@earthlink.net all lower case, the elves at earthlink are sensitive about case.

On the other hand, doing it on the blog might be instructive, if you feel brave.

Anonymous said...


This is great! Between my last post and yours, I was thinking what a wonderful thing it would be to actually share an author-agent relationship on the web. No holds barred--that is, I send you the query (privately), and you reject it--or not--and tell me and the rest of us why. I take it nobly, and no more trouble from me (yes, I am a gentle soul).

If you don't, then we go to the next step, then the next--but always with the objective of sharing what works and what doesn't work between an unpublished author and an agent.

I'm willing to shake on this, Miss Snark. You let me know. I'll send you an email message, get your address, and send a query through the mail (no exceptions allowed).


O.K., call me Knows-His-Book

Anonymous said...

Oh, and it's nonfiction.

Miss Snark said...

You can email me the proposal. Do you have pdf capability? That's best for maintaining format.

If not, send it as an attachment.
If you send me a virus I'll track you down like those aliens in War of the Worlds and make YOU look at Tom Cruise emoting for two hours.

I'll go over the proposal and show you what I noticed, what would make me look at more, what would make me say no thanks.

This is all up to you of course. Sort of like the sacrifical goat.