Starting the clock watching on partials

I e-queried an agent and received a response right away, saying that he "absolutely loved" the sound of my query and would like to see a partial. I immediately sent it out and have since been trying to be patient. The agency's website does not specify response times, nor does any information I've found on the agent reference a window of response time. It has been about 2 1/2 weeks so far; what is a standard waiting period on a partial? Can I expect to get a response either way, or after a certain amount of time is it understood that an agent is not interested in pursuing anything further?

30 days MINIMUM on a partial and you can't start sending nudging emails till 60 days.
This is why Dog invented "second novels" (ie you start writing yours), art museums (go look at some art that isn't your form) and the Rutgers Basketball Team (get involved in something captivating that isn't about you or your book).

If you don't hear in 60 days, you can send a polite email.
If you don't hear in 6 months, assume no.

Under NO circumstances do you treat this as an exclusive and put all your hopes on one agent. You keep sending queries. LOTS of them.


pretzel logic said...

I think if your query letter is doing its job, you should have enough requests for partials so you're not hung up on one agent.
I've only had one request for a partial so far and lots of "not right for me" rejections on queries and so I'm re-thinking my hook and tightening up my mini synopses paragraph.

Email queries can give you as quick a feedback as a hand of blackjack - as cruel and as sweet. You can hear back from some agents in less than a few hours after sending out. But once you send out a partial, it's time to wait.

As for Ms. Snark's recomendation for starting the next book, it's a good one - advice also found on AgentQuery.com. The mind always thinks the project you're working on is the best one, very similar to how we view the person that we're currently dating or married to as 'the one.' We tend to forget quondam enthusiasms, especially why we thought they or it or whatever was so great "back then."

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

So, does this apply to publishers who ask for an exclusive? I have an "exclusive" submission out there, and it's going on two months with out a whisper from them. I want to submit elsewhere, but I agreed to an "exclusive." I didn't agree to wait forever. So, how long is a decent wait? Something more than five minuets right? Must I wait longer than two months?

Anonymous said...

Queries are easy to read and if you happen to catch the agent at their computer their response is going to be near immediate.

Partials are longer and nowhere near as quick a read as queries. Listen to Miss Snark and give the poor agent some time.

Ryan Field said...

Aside from Miss Snark's suggestions for diversion, I never understand why so many writers aren't taking advantage of all the opportunities these days with regards to writing on the web. This wasn't so fifteen years ago. Though the money isn't always great, at least it's experience and helps build confidence.

jamiehall said...

With both agents and publishers, get used to the waiting game. This a a glacial industry, the more so when nobody has agreed to take you on yet.

After you get accepted somewhere, things will speed up a bit, but response time might still be measured in weeks on occasion.

The only good thing about it is, once you do actually have an agent, some of the taboos of the unagented go away. You'll then be able to check up with your agent on anything that seems a week or more late, and you'll be able to get updates from the agent about why publishers are being so slow.

Just don't check in constantly, and it should be okay once you've reached that stage. Once you get an agent, you should discuss expectations about how often you'll get updates and under which circumstances you'd be a pest for checking in too frequently.

Art Briocher said...

Does the 60 day rule apply to full requests as well?

Able Ponder said...

YEAH! How long before I can bug agents who have requested and received a full?

wonderer said...

Miss Snark has talked about wait times on fulls before. IIRC, it's 90 days (and wait a couple of weeks longer before you e-mail), but check the Snarkives.

Anonymous said...

Beware. An enthusiastic request for a partial (or whole) doesn't mean anything (other than that you give good query; congratulations).

I got one that sounded like it was practically a done deal, but in the end, it was just like every other submission: a long wait, and then a nearly form-type reply.

The days when a full-read got you a personal rejection with comments is long gone. Keep querying. You should have a bunch of fulls out before you even slow down.

If you try long enough, you'll also learn that some agents request partials on almost every query that's not illiterate. But the acceptance rate is still the same. Tiny.

It's very, very rare that partial leads to full leads to offer. Really. I used to get phone calls expressing interest. Still never sold.