QueryTracker Blog

Helping Authors Find Literary Agents

Monday, January 25, 2010

Nudging Know-How

You'll find little information "out there" about nudging agents, and much of it is erroneous. One writing website encourages writers to call the agent ON THE PHONE if they've not had a response.

Um, no.

Today I'm going to set the record straight.

When to Nudge...

On a Query

99.999% of the time, the answer is NEVER! There is one exception, and for that I'll quote Anna Webman of Curtis Brown LTD:

Perhaps, the only exception would be if the author receives an offer of representation or legitimate interest from an editor. In that case, if they have a specific dream agent who didn’t respond to their query, they could follow-up with that person and let them know the good news.

On a Partial

Three months. It seems like a long time, but agents have a lot of material to sift through. (A lot!) So you'll need to sit back on your heels and wait. Or better yet, jump into your next writing project.

On a Full

Hang on to your hat... six months. (Did you gasp?) SIX MONTHS. I know this seems like an eternity. And you may hear back from the agent before this allotment is up. But you need to give them a good amount of time to consider you as a client, which includes time for them to research you online.

Special Circumstance

Say agent A has your full, and agent B sends an email saying he/she likes your work but wants to talk about revisions. Is it time to nudge agent A? Surprisingly, no. At this point in your journey you are more likely to nudge them into a "no." So when should you nudge them? Only...

When You Have an Offer

It's time to pull out all the whistles and bells and nudge every agent who is considering your material. (This includes partials.) Let the agent know you've had an offer of representation, and give them at least a week to consider your material and get back to you.

The TOP SECRET Nudge

Some agents are willing to reconsider your work after you've taken time to revise it. This is especially true if he/she liked your story (or writing) well enough to offer feedback. You'll need to tread carefully, because you don't want to come across as pushy. A simple "I've revised TITLE OF BOOK and am wondering if you'd be interested in seeing the new version." This only applies to agents who have previously read a partial or full.

When to Call an Agent?

There is only one answer: WHEN THE AGENT INVITES YOU TO DO SO.

How to Nudge

Number one rule: Be polite and professional. A secret rule: Be brief. Something like, "Thank you for considering TITLE OF BOOK. I'm wondering if you've had a chance to look at it yet." Make sure your contact info is included in the email.

Things that will Help

A great place to go is the agent's page on QueryTracker.net. People leave comments about their experience submitting to the agent, and by looking at the agent's statistics you can have a rough idea of when to expect to hear from him/her.

One final note, none of these rules is set in stone. In fact, many of them vary slightly depending on each agent's particular tastes and method of operation. So always, always, always check their websites for guidelines.

I'd like to say THANK YOU to the agents who weighed in to help make this article possible!


Suzette Saxton writes books for tots, teens, and in-betweens. She is represented by Suzie Townsend of FinePrint Literary.

31 comments:

Mary Lindsey said...

Great advice! It's nice to see all the nudge options in one post.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Great Post, Suzette! That's why it's important to start another project while querying.

I've heard a number of times on Absolute Write about writers who've nudged an agent about their partial or full after waiting several months, and received very quick form rejections. Wonder if the agents even read the mss, or decided to just clean their desks. ;)

suzie townsend said...

Great advice!

Tess said...

This is exactly why it is so important to make certain our work is query ready and then submit to multiple agents. Can you imagine how long it would take if we did the whole 6 month full wait for a single agent at a time? That's just not a fair/reasonable use of our time, imho.

Alyssa Kirk @ Teens Read and Write said...

Very helpful. I like that you listed specific situations and options. Thanks!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

This is wonderful info. You're right - there isn't much out there about agent nudging. Thanks, Suzette, for sharing this. :-)

Christina Lee said...

Good one to bookmark! Thanks!

Feywriter said...

This is great! Thanks for touching on all the scenarios.

Mary Campbell said...

Thanks Suzy - very informative.

Jackee said...

Great post! I wish I would have known this stuff the first time I got a full request. *sigh*

Patrick said...

Great post, Suzy. As always.

WindyA said...

Thanks, Suz! A great little timetable to keep on hand.

Elana Johnson said...

Great article, Suzy! Such an easy, well-laid-out guide. You rawk!

annerallen said...

This is really useful information. I saw that site that advised writers to phone an agent and cringed.

One thing--I am finding it hard to use your site. I'd love to research a certain agent who's had my partial for four months, but I see no way to search for a specific agent without scrolling through every agent alphabetically. When an agent is at the end of the alphabet, it can take a realllllly long time, so I've only gone through the process once.

Obviously, I'm not tech savvy, but if it is possible to search an agent by name, could that info be made available on the home page somewhere at some point?

Thanks!

Kathy McIntosh said...

Very helpful. Thanks.
Now if you could just pat my hand and tell me everything's fine, stop worrying.

Michelle McLean said...

Great post, Suzy! And great tip about checking guidelines. I've seen some agent websites say to email them after X number of weeks and some say if you don't hear from them after X amount of weeks, they aren't interested.

Excellent advice as always :)

Pamela Hammonds said...

Nice to be reminded. And I have a tendency to not follow up. Ever. I figure I'll hear when I hear. But maybe it's a case of the squeaky wheel getting an agent and I should heed your advice. Thanks, Suzette.

Angie said...

That's great advice. Waiting can be so hard sometimes! But that is our lot as writers, I think.

Suzette Saxton said...

*pat pat* Cathy, everything will be just fine. :D

Thanks for your comments, everyone. As always, I love hearing your insight.

Anne, finding a single agent should be easy and take only a second or two. Patrick or I will get in touch with you to help you figure it out. ;)

Have a great day, everyone!

DL Hammons said...

I'm bookmarking this post right now for use in dealing with my eventual agent. Tank U!

Carolyn V. said...

I love this advice! Thanks

Patrick said...

Hi Anne, to search for an agent by name, go to the search page and at the top of the page are three buttons. "Genre Search", "Basic Search", and "Advanced Search".

Click "Basic Search" and you'll see boxes for entering agent's name or agency. These will allow you to search by name, or find all agents at a certain agency.

B.J. Anderson said...

Great post, Suzette! And something that is oh so timely for me right now.

Conda V. Douglas said...

Great advice and very timely for me as I am submitting to agents--and two weeks seems like forever. But the trick is to get it out there and let it go.

Fran said...

Dear Suzette, of course, you're spot on with the queries, but what about AFTER you have the contract??

I haven't heard from my agent in six months and finally sent of a quick little note today, trembling in my boots the whole time.

Why do we (I?) respond to agents as if they were school principals?

L.T. Elliot said...

You're awesome, Suzette. Thank you for putting this together (and to the agents that aided you!) I'm totally tweeting it.

Jemi Fraser said...

Great advice, but nudging still makes me nervous!

Little Ms J said...

FANTASTIC ADVICE! I have a full out (going on four months) and a partial that is edging on six weeks. I'm sitting on my hands.

Suzette Saxton said...

Fabulous responses, everyone. Thanks so much, and I'm glad you've found this helpful.

Fran, I'm going to try to send you an email.

Suz

Sharon Mayhew said...

Wonderful post, Suzette! QueryTracker is a great sight, but writers need to remember that agents can read those comments that are left on the comments section. So it's a good idea to use that same tact when posting comments. :)

Valerie Ipson said...

Excellent! Very helpful advice. I will have to save it for future use.