Dear Ms. Snark, (ahem, that's MISS Snark)
I am rapidly approaching the six-month mark since sending a requested manuscript to one of my first-choice agents. I want to send a polite letter -- the understood subtext of which will be, "Uh, dude, you ever gonna get back to me on this?" -- and am wondering how best to word it.
Should I ask if I'm "still under consideration"? I don't want to prod him into digging my manuscript out of the pile so he can cram a form rejection into my SASE just to get me out of his hair, nor do I want to wait around another six month for his answer. Is there a nice way to make him think, "Oh, shoot, I let time get away from me. I better take this one home tonight and start reading some pages."
And just so you don't think I'm a clinging nitwit, I have been querying other agents this whole time and have a few other requested manuscripts out at other places. But this guy's answer is one I really want to hear.
Thanks for all your chop-busting advice.
Well let's see.
Dear Agent Who Is Clearly Overworked:
You've had my manuscript for six months. God created the world in six days. Any idea when I should expect to hear from you?
You've had my manuscript for six months. If I had a nickle for every minute I've been hanging here waiting with bated breath, I'd have $12,960..enough to buy you some clerical help.
You've had my manuscript for six months. I installed GPS on my cover page so I can tell you that it's under the credenza, stacked on top of back issues of PW, and three feet to the left of a manuscript you've had for six years. If I send you the coordinates will you go get it and read it?
You've had my manuscript for six months. I don't want to presume you're disorganized and lazy, but frankly, no other reasons fully explain why you can't read something when you've had 180 days including an entire week of vacation and 24 weekend days to do so. This business about "too busy" says either you're biting off more than you can chew at the submission buffett, or you read slowly cause you sound out every word. Neither are strong recomendations for an agent.
I'm writing to follow up on my manuscript sent (insert date). I'm very interested in your reaction to it and hope to be someone you'd like to represent. I've included an SASE with this, and if the manuscript has gone AWOL in your office, I'll be glad to send another. Thanks for your time and consideration.
Six months is a heck of a long time to sit on a manuscript. My best guess is that it's buried under something else and once he digs it out, he'll read at least 50 pages or so and get back to you but you're gonna have to jog his elbow to make that happen.