Generally speaking, querying to multiple agents seems to be the norm, meaning agents expect it (I’ve only ever come across one agency that requests you specifically indicate in your query letter whether it is a multiple query). But when an agent actually writes back and asks to see material, are simultaneous subs also okay? Can you have the same material at more than one agency? And should you let them know, or is this again one of those things that everyone simply expects will be happening. I assume to some extent the answer is yes because some agents requests material along with the actual query itself.
The reason I ask, however, is that earlier this year you wrote a blog entry on how to deal with offers from multiple agents (which would seem to assume multiple subs), yet I came across an agency recently that stated explicitly on their website that they do not permit simultaneous submissions, and another one that implied as much. That got me wondering whether maybe I had it wrong.
Any light you might be able to shed on the matter would be much appreciated.
This is a great question. And for those of you who missed the post Wade is referring to, here’s the link.
For the most part, sending queries (with a couple sample pages) to multiple agents at once is just fine. Agents expect it. In general, I’d stay away from including lines like “I’m sending this to several agents” because they do want to feel special, like they’re the first agent you’re sending to. Occasionally, like you saw, they will want to know up front that they’re not the only ones — and then you should follow the guidelines. (Always follow the guidelines.) But most agents understand that you’re going to query widely and search for the best possible fit for you and your work.
When it comes to partial and full manuscripts on request, same thing. Unless they ask, don’t offer information they don’t need right now — it’s expected that you’ve got other people looking at it, too. Occasionally they will ask for exclusives. Always always put a time limit on those. Six weeks is good for a full. (I am pretty MEH on exclusives for partials, since it’s sooo unlikely an agent is going to offer representation on a partial, but it happens sometimes. If they don’t ask for one, though, don’t offer.) At the end of the exclusive period, you should feel free to email and say that the exclusive is over and you’ll be sending the materials to other agents. If someone asks for materials during the exclusive, just tell them it’s under exclusive until X date, and you’ll send it then. They’re usually okay with this. Otherwise, you should feel just fine about sending materials to multiple agents.
When an offer is made, then you’ll simply say something like, “Thanks! I need to contact the other agents with my work, and I’ll get back to you in a week.” That’s also completely normal. And then the wooing process begins. . . .
That clear things up?
Have a question you want answered on my blog? Feel free to email me. I try to get to everything . . . eventually. ;)