I've been aggressively querying my novel and in the past week have responded to three request for partials. Today I received another request for a partial where the agent requires an exclusive for as long as she has my material under consideration. It's a reputable agency that I would be pleased to do business with.
Of course, I cannot pull back the three partials that are already out. So should I just sent the partial to the "exclusive" and refrain from sending anymore queries or material until I hear back? And what if one of the partials that is out comes back with a request for a full while the exclusive partial is still on that agent's desk. I know I'm getting ahead of myself because it may turn out that none of them request a full, but I want to be prepared.
Actually, you can pull the partials from consideration. All you have to do is email the agent and say "thanks but I'm withdrawing from consideration". The real question is do you want to do this and the answer is a resounding no.
Open ended exclusives stink more.
Asking or requiring an open ended exclusive is the mindset of an agent stuck in 1973.
Given one can receive a manuscript electronically (even those of us who don't take equeries do take things electronically) reading 50 pages, or 300 pages in less than a week something any of us can do with one eye tied behind our back. And we WILL for a project we REALLY want. To ask an author to tie up his/her work on open ended terms is disrespectful and counter productive. It's also a lazy ass way to do business.
You can't provide her an exclusive read and you shouldn't. If she doesn't see the merit of that, why would you want to work with her?