Note from Josh: With the Jewish holidays destroying my last month's productivity, the ever-gracious Danielle Burby has agreed to pinch hit this week. Querying writers: This is great advice. Back next week! JG
The Art of Nudging an Agent
- I think it is reasonable to check in if you haven't heard anything at all after four months just to make sure that the agent received your query. Sometimes they do fall through the cracks or end up in spam so that's a good time to circle back.
- If you receive an offer of representation and one of the agents who hasn't responded is on your wish list, this is an opportunity for you to nudge.
- Speaking for me, and for Josh, we always provide a rough timeline of when authors can expect a response from us (usually 8-12 weeks). If you haven't gotten that from us, feel free to ask right away. That was an accidental omission on my part.
- If we have gone over the timeline that we provided you are free to check in, though maybe wait an additional week because sometimes we're just running a few days behind schedule.
- If any agent has requested pages of your manuscript and you receive an offer of representation before they've given you an answer you should DEFINITELY let them know and give them at least a week to get back to you with an answer. Give them a chance to make a decision.
- It is physically impossible to give every individual person feedback. Generally, it is not okay to ask for that from an agent. However, there are some rare occasions where it is okay. (VERY RARE) It is not an agent's job to teach you how to improve your manuscript. Any time an agent offers you editorial feedback, that agent is being very generous with his or her time. Keep that in mind.
- If the agent has offered you individualized feedback and you have a question you may certainly ask them to clarify, though they are under no obligation to respond. This one is a bit tricky, but, generally, if an agent takes the time to actually give you specific editorial feedback (and I'm talking very specific as in mentioning character names, plot points, etc. in the rejection) it was a near miss. If you ask, be prepared to not receive an answer, though. And, if you don't receive a response, don't ask again.
- If you revised your manuscript at an agent's explicit request and the agent subsequently rejects the manuscript you can and should ask them if they have any additional thoughts for you.
- If you have an existing professional relationship with the agent.
- If none of the above apply to you do not nudge.
- Never ever call the agency. Query, partial, full manuscript, it doesn't matter. Please never call to check on the status of your submission. If your manuscript has been rejected, please do not call to try to change our minds or ask why. Nudges should NEVER happen over the phone.
- To nudge, you should send a very short, professional, email. Our email addresses are readily available. This is the only appropriate way to nudge. If you're emailing to nudge it's better to just own it (politely, of course) so don't feel like you need to make up an excuse. If you do have pertinent information to share that you genuinely feel will improve your chances (enrolling in a PhD program, etc.), feel free to share it. Keep the whole email short and sweet.