What the hell is taking you so damn long?

Dear Miss Snark:

20 queries went out, and 7 rejections came back within a few days. Then, I received a request for a partial. And now, it's been 6 weeks, and the rejections continue to dribble in, but there are 7 queries out there.

Do you (as representitive for all agents, snarky and otherwise) know immediately if a query interests you to ask for more? If you don't handle its genre, I realize that it's easy to send out a quick "later, dude." But if something IS something you represent, is a delay anything more than "I'm hip-deep in queries and I'll get to ya when I get to ya", or sometimes do you need to mull things over for a few weeks?

If you've sent some pages, and it takes me awhile to respond, it's either cause I'm too surly to read with anything other than rejection on my mind; I'm really busy; or yes, I'm trying to figure out if I want to read more.

It's the third one you're interested in probably. I can fall in love with BAD work just as easily as Danielle Steele fans can. I've learned to recognize this failing so sometimes I'll set a query aside for a second read just to make sure it holds up. (Usually it doesn't.) That can delay things.

If I'm reading a non fiction idea, I am looking around to see if the project has some oomph. That can take a while too.

If I'm reading a partial, all bets are off. Sometimes I can read those in 30 minutess and sometimes it takes a month. The 30 minute ones are NOT EVER the ones I'm most excited about. They tend to be the ones that arrive while I'm waiting around for something else to happen and I read it cause it's right there in front of my long, quivering, cooking -niffing snout (oh wait, that's KY's snout, mine is the nose with the pince-nez).

I also tend to read partials in batches. I read 15 last weekend. Some had been here since (gulp) early May.

Plus, remember that reading the slush pile or the incoming submissions is important but it's not urgent. It always takes second or third place behind doing deals, swilling gin, reading the new James Lee Burke or other things I love.


Nate said...

The Danielle Steele quip made me laugh. I think I dislike James Patterson even more, though. Sheesh, why worry about quality when you can sling slop across every genre? What a businessman.

David said...

Heh. A gulp for partials that have been sitting around since May?

I sent 30 pages with a query to a well-known agent in December, got a request for 50 more pages in late February, and sent them out to the agency by mid-March (I was traveling at the time, and boy do I regret paying FedEx Kinko's rates to print it all out). Nothing's happened since.

I called a couple of weeks ago, and the agent I originally queried is "on sabbatical." The request for 50 additional pages came from someone I've since learned is a "reader" for several agents. No other details given; I'm assuming nothing further will happen--and that I'll never find out why my work ended up in limbo, either.

So, Your Snarkfulness, May isn't so bad. I guess.

Termagant 2 said...

You're havin' us on. Nobody stylish enough to wear stilettoes could possibly affect a pince-nez.


Maya said...

I'm interested in the letter writer's phrase, "If you don't handle its genre."

Back when I was looking for an agent, I did exhaustive work to check every possible resource in order to find out about agents before I queried them. This included subscribing to Publishers Marketplace, Googling and checking websites such as RWA and Agent Query. I believe it made my query letters stronger in terms of knowing something about the agent and the kind of manuscript they represented.

Bottom line: I strongly recommend doing your homework before querying.

lili said...

to all you guys who are beginning to despair check this out: (wow, sounded like a ja rule opening..)

- 25 e-queries sent around mid-may
- 3 requests for partials/fulls
- 4 rejections

.. that leaves 18 PEOPLE who have NOT ANSWERED. at all. e-queries. two months!

i'm sorry but, what the hell???

Elektra said...

lili, most agents won't respond to an e-query if they aren't interested (which is another reason why Agent Kristin should top the list--she responds nicely to everyone, whether it's a yes or a no)

Sal said...

.. that leaves 18 PEOPLE who have NOT ANSWERED. at all. e-queries. two months!

i'm sorry but, what the hell???

Some agencies specifically say, sure send an e-query, but we only respond if we're interested. Could any of these eighteen be in that category?

delilah said...

Scott Hoffman over at Folio Lit has an auto-response acknowledging the receipt of your equery and he has a very fast turnaround time.

And, if there is such a thing, a very kind and professional rejection letter.

A class act among the classless.

Anonymous said...

What does this entail?
"If I'm reading a non fiction idea, I am looking around to see if the project has some oomph. That can take a while too."

Termagant 2 said...

I read "has some oomph" as coherent, well thought out, possibly marketable. Any non-fic writers have anything to add to this?


Anonymous said...

I, too, have had lagging response times on partials? I sent an equery in mid-May and within a couple of hours received a response for a partial. I'm still waiting for a response two months later. The agency's initial speed in contacting me was such a tease! I know patience is a virtue but I'm beginning to lose what little I had to begin with.

Kim said...

Way back when, I e-queried an agent and waited. And waited. And waited until I'd forgotten I'd even queried them. In that time, I'd moved on, found a publisher, etc. Then, one fine afternoon when I was cleaning up my mailbox, I came across the original query, still unanswered six months later. I followed up. Never heard back. I chalk it up to being either unorganized or unprofessional - neither of which I'd really want in an agent, by the way. And, no, the agency didn't say they only responded if interested.