Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Multiple Submissions

I know I've written about this before, but it came up a few times at the ASJA Conference this weekend, so I thought I'd revisit it. 

Some agents have an exclusive submission policy regarding materials - i.e. you can't send your query or manuscript to another agent while they are reviewing it. I STRONGLY believe that this is an unfair policy. The only times I can think that an exclusive might be appropriate is if the agent is an absolutely perfect fit for you or they happen to be one of the biggest and best names in the business. Otherwise, my suggestion is to submit to multiple agents at a time. 

Most agents are extremely busy and out of necessity are slow in responding to submissions. If you wait for a response from each of us before sending your project on to the next agent on your list you could be querying the same project for years and years.

My only caveat with multiple submissions is that you need to tell agents who have your partial or full manuscript when another agent has expressed interest in representation and give them at least a few days to get back to you.


David said...

Thanks for this informative post. I don't come across it often, but I have seen guidelines for a few agents that request exclusivity at the query stage.
I just keep on moving because I have no choice.

ryan field said...

From a writer's pov...If you're making multiple submissions, you have to really keep track of where you're submitting and to whom.

David said...


There are a couple of very useful interactive sites that track your submissions for you.

Litmatch.net is the one I use. You just have to register for a free account. it's very simple to use and very handy.

Ann Victor said...

Nice to get this query strategy confirmed straight from the lyon's, er, horse's mouth!

jimnduncan said...

Querytracker.net is another good site to track submissions, and they have a pretty decent database of agents to search. You can track when it was sent, when you got a reply, if it was a form rejection or request, among other things. You can pay for premium account which allows some handy sorting features but it's very useful on its basic level.

As for exclusives, I don't pay a lot of attention to this at the query stage. Given that the odds of a request are about 1% in today's climate, writers can't afford the time to wait on one agent for 2 to whatever weeks for a response. Perhaps this is slightly unprofessional, but I certainly agree with the point of view that exclusives are not terribly appropriate.

La Fleur said...

I am old school, I guess. I signed up for querytracker.net, but I just use an old fashioned spreadsheet. Once I find an agent I'm interested in, I simply search the sheet to determine if I have submitted to the agent/agency before.

Thanks for the prospective!
Claudia Ross

Furious D said...

I try to avoid anyone who demands exclusivity, especially with unsolicited submissions.

They're a crap-shoot at best, and it's unlikely one will start a bidding war, even among publishers.

I learned that lesson, and the necessity of having an agent the hard way with my first novel. I once submitted to a publisher who demanded exclusivity, which I grudgingly accepted because they were one of the few open to a first time novelist.

Even though the novel was recommended to the publisher twice by the editors, I still don't have an answer, and I had to do rewrites to update all the technology, and add references to blogs. Yes, it took that long.

A few months ago the editor who last recommended the book told me to get either an agent or another publisher to somehow force their boss to actually read it and make a decision.

After that I don't accept exclusivity anymore.