Exclusives...will they NEVER learn?

Hi, Miss Snark, I know you've answered (many) questions about exclusives before, so I hope you won't mind one more. (Please?) An agent requested a 3-week exclusive on my manuscript. Since so few agents have requested my manuscript, I agreed to the exclusive and sent it off yesterday. This morning, though, another agent sent me an email requesting the first 3 chapters on a "temporary exclusive." What is THAT?!! (And why "temporary" and not permanent, indelible . . .?! I am at the bottom of the slush pile here, what kind of trick are these agents pulling on me?!) Either way, do I tell her that the manuscript is being seen on an exclusive basis elsewhere for the next 3 weeks, but that when I hear back, I will send it to her? Doesn't this imply that I'm waiting for a rejection from the other agent -- and hence, probably from her, too? And by letting her know that someone else has it on an exclusive, are the odds in my favor that she will tell me to forget it, I'm burnt toast and she could care less? As you can see, the bottom of the slush pile is getting to me . . .

Well, only because Miss Snark has already taken a beating for being mean to poor little old writers this week will she refrain from pulling out the Nitwit Cape and tying it around your neck.

What did Miss Snark tell you about exclusives? Quick, no looking at the Snarkives.
Yes! That's right....


And they really stink when you think only one person is going to ask, and you send it off, hoping Miss Snark will NEVER find out...and then lo and behold the Slush Pile Imp sends you a second request. I guarantee you that a third is arriving shortly.

Now, since you've been (a nitwit) NOT SnarklySmart about this, yes you have to write to Agent B and fess up that your great masterpiece is currently in the hands of the competition. And then you send it to her on day 21 after you sent off the first one to Agent A.

And I have no idea what a temporary exclusive is unless it means time specific. Always be clear how long an exclusive lasts if you ignore Miss Snark and agree to one. Open ended exclusives don't just stink..they cause the death of small defenseless forest animals every single time you grant one. Bambi is on YOUR conscience now!


overdog said...

But Miss Snark,

What's a nice, *professional* way for an unpublished writer to say to a big agent, "No, you may not have an exclusive look at my precious prose"?

-ril said...

Bambi: tragic hero or venison.


Miss Snark said...

Dear Agent Behind The Times: I'm very glad to get the good news you're interested in my work. I must tell you that I did send this query to more than one agent. Can you tell me if you'll read this on a non-exclusive basis? I'll be glad to keep you informed promptly of any interest or offers from anyone else.

Or "you must be fucking kidding, don't you know Miss Snark said exclusives stink?"

overdog said...

Yeehaw! I do believe I'll use both (should the happy occasion arise).

Thanks much, from your newest snarkling.

Not My Mother! said...

Once upon a very recent time (February), I was also a nitwit of this kind who needed such a cape tightened around my disobedient neck. I accepted an exclusive with agent #1 because no one else had shown such excitement, and within the next 3 days, 2 other agents requested full readings (one on an exclusive).

Talk about stress! Ultimately, I e-mailed the agent who hadn't requested an exclusive (agent #2), explaining the situation and when the exclusive would end, why I would prefer to work with that agent, and requesting permission to send it to him on a specific date (the day after my exclusive ended with agent #1).

The agent's response e-mail made me think I had blown it, but he said "yes," send it IF they don't offer to represent. Well, agent #1 did offer but agent #2 wanted to read it anyway. I sent the ms. off to agent #2 the day after the exclusive with #1 ended.

I also e-mailed the 3rd agent explaining that the ms. was currently being read and requesting to send it without an exclusive (I intentionally waited until after I sent if off to agent #2). They agreed. Before I could do that, however, agent #2 offered representation, and I happily notified agents 1 and 3.

Wouldn't want to between that rock and hard place again.

Denever said...

I don't see the problem with exclusives as long as they're not completely open-ended and what's at stake is the possibility of high-quality representation.

There is a Big Deal Agency that asks for a six-week exclusive. One of my favorite authors is represented by them. I like everything they say on their website about how they work with their clients.

So why the hell wouldn't I give them a lousy six weeks out of my life and career to see whether they might want to represent me? If they say yes, that's that: I'm theirs. If they say no (admittedly, more likely), off I go, querying the next 10-15 agencies on the list I've been compiling. Doesn't seem like a terrible sacrifice to me. You just have to be clear about what you want and which hoops you're willing to jump through for the chance to get it. The "exclusives are baaaaad" rap is overinclusive.

Elektra said...

another question--how do you word those pesky little "get off your butt and give me a response" E-mails?
I've tried twenty different versions, but can't find a happy medium between surly and doormat.

Anonymous said...

I think Bambi is gone for good...


Sorry, I can't rid myself of this image.

Beth Amos said...

This second request is for 3 chapters only...I wouldn't offer an exclusive on a partial in any form. Why not send the 3 chaps and tell the agent you'll be happy to offer them an exclusive on the full ms if they're interested. By the time they respond you should know something from the first agent.

-ril said...

Well, I left the cute blonde at the bar and returned to our table with the drinks (a little watery now the ice had melted), and a telephone number inked across the back of my hand. After a few minutes discussion, I gently replied to my date's query, "you must be fucking kidding, don't you know Miss Snark said exclusives stink?"

So now I'm home early, on my own, hanging out on the internet with a five-fingered blush across my left cheek and I'm sure my toe is broken.

Great. Another fricken useless piece of advice.