Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Agent Request for Exclusive

It feels good when an agent expresses interest in your work. Even better when multiple agents start wanting to read your manuscript. But what happens when they start requesting exclusive reads of your book?

I’ve recently been blessed with the “problem” of having multiple agents requesting extensive partial or full versions of my manuscript The Long Defeat. I already have three agents currently reading it on a non-exclusive basis, but yesterday a fourth agent requested the entire manuscript on an exclusive basis for the next six to eight weeks. Obviously, I very much would like to honor this request, but the fact that my book is already circulating in the hands of other agents at the moment complicates things a bit.  

To my fellow authors who have some experience in submitting queries and manuscripts to agents: Have you come across this conundrum before? If so, how did you find the most professional and polite, yet expedient way of negotiating a compromise? I have every intention of honoring my obligations, but I can’t grant an exclusive read until the three other agents have had a chance to finish reading my book. Nonetheless, I’m very enthusiastic about the interest agents are expressing for my novel, and I appreciate all the good karma points and encouragement several of you have been sending my way lately. Thanks!  


  1. That is so great! I'm sure you'll get signed. The Long Defeat, from what I read of it, was fantastic.

    I would just tell the agent who wants exclusivity that you already have others reading it. Let the know that you'd love to let them read it, but either they will have to wait until you're rejected, or accept the situation as is.

    Of course, be nice though.

  2. That is so great that you're having requests like that! I don't actually have any advice. I've gotten a few fulls requested but never exclusively...

    Good luck!

  3. Congrats! Isn't it great to have this kind of problem? I have never been there myself but I think McKenzie's advice sounds excellent!

  4. First off, congratulations.

    Secondly, I strongly suggest you not give an exclusive, especially since you already have interest elsewhere.

    But if you do offer an exclusive, give the agent a deadline, perhaps 10 days tops. That way your work isn't tied up while the agent is busy doing something else. 6-8 weeks is way too long for something he's supposed to be interested in reading.

    Good luck.

  5. I guess you just let that agent know it's being read by others and put the ball in his court. If he's really interested, he'll still want to see it anyway.
    Never had multiple agents reading my stuff. Of course, I never sent my work to agents, only to publishers.

  6. Yeah, what Maria said. You don't want to give anyone an exclusive that takes you out of the game for eight weeks. It's in their best interest, not yours. Politely advise them that the ms is currently out with other agents and if they are still interested in reading it you will absolutely advise them right away if anyone shows an interest in offering representation to give them a chance to respond. Otherwise they can wait to read your ms until after you hear back from the other agents. At that point you can offer them a short (two weeks max) exclusive.

    Good luck. Sounds like things are going great!

  7. Congratulations, Mark!

    I had that happen once, and told the agent that other agents had already requested the novel. I was polite and asked if he'd still be interested in reading, which he was.

    Good luck!

  8. Great news, Mark!

    The same has happened to me. I have partials and fulls with agents and another recently requested an exclusive. I emailed back to explain I thought she was a great agent but simply couldn't offer the exclusive. She immediately emailed back and said no problem. Full ms sent.

    So enter into a dialogue with the agent about the problem, and you may well find it isn't much of a problem at all!

  9. Donna's a smart cookie, Mark.

    What a position to be in, dude. Way to go!

  10. I've never had this problem (I never even sent a query) so I can't say, but it looks like you have gotten some great advice. Good luck! I'm certian we'll see your book on shelves someday :)

  11. What a great problem to have. Congrats!
    I do agree with the comments, though. I don't think it's in your best interest to offer an exclusive for that long.

  12. Congratulations! :)

    I've never run into this issue (having never queried) but I think what the other commenters suggested sounds like the best idea . . .

  13. Congrats on the requests! I'm not at this stage yet so I unfortunately have no advice to offer. :)

  14. What a lovely problem to have, Mark. I am thrilled for you. Hope you get your agent. Unfortunately I have not encountered this problem at all.

  15. I would love to have your problem. I saw great advice above that I'll use if I'm ever so blessed to have the same thing happen. At least I'm close to sending another round of queries.

    I'm never sure if other bloggers get the email when I reply through my email to noreply-comment at blogger dot com, so if you don't get an email asking for your email address for my blog contest, please send it to sherahart at gmail dot com. I saw that you're US from your profile. Thanks

  16. Wish I had your problem! I have not been there but I would say be careful...I would not give the manuscript to the other agent for 6 to 8weeks before I was sure the others didn't want it--but you might tell the others to get them moving! congratulations!

  17. Lucky you! I wish I had the same problem and was able to help out on this one. Good luck!

  18. Wow, congratulations on the interest! I have no experience with this, but read through the other comments and agree that you should be honest with the agent, let them know others are already looking at it, and say you can't give them an exclusive. As if they'd still like to see it. I would imagine they will. I can't believe they'd think you should put it out of commission for such a long period of time for them. GOOD LUCK!

  19. McKenzie – Thanks for the encouragement and advice. I’ll definitely be sure to be nice:)

    Kelley – Thanks for the good luck!

    Krista – Not a bad “problem” to have indeed;)

    Maria – I like to be flexible, but you raise a good point about the exclusive, since it potentially takes my book off the market for a while. Thanks:)

    Alex – Wow, that’s cool you sent stuff to publishers. Did you have an agent or someone else assisting you or were you able to do it some other way?

    L.G. – Thanks for the advice. Two weeks certainly sounds more reasonable, but we’ll see how things pan out.

    Stephanie – Great! That sounds like a very sensible way of going about things.

    Donna – Sounds like a plan:) Thanks for the info from your own experience.

    Donna – More Donnas:) And both smart cookies at that, thanks!

    J.A. – Thanks for the support:)

    Lynda – I agree that it’s not necessarily within my best interests to grant a long exclusive (but I can’t right now anyway with the ms in other agents’ hands), nonetheless I’m willing to compromise.

    Eagle – Thanks!

    Ghenet – No worries, thanks for the support:)

    Rachna – Never say never;)

    Sher – Thanks, nice to meet you:)

    A-in-P – Well, I can tell them to get moving, but I’ll have to be very polite and patient nonetheless:)

    Crystal – Thanks!

    Shannon – I agree, and will follow your wisdom. Thanks for the good wishes!

  20. I too would go with Donna's advice. Tell Mr./Ms. "Exclusive" like it is and see what happens. And relish this moment, dude. Good stuff's on the way!

  21. I have no advice but I just wanted to say congratulations on your problem :-) Best of luck with the requests.

  22. Woohoo! I love it that you're having this kind of problem. I hope you get a really good agent. It sounds like you've already received some awesome advice. Good luck, Mark! :)