Thursday, September 2, 2021

Dear O'Abby: What if I can't offer an exclusive?

 Dear O'Abby,

I've been querying for a while now without much success.  Then out of the blue, I got a full request!  I was super excited and sent it right off to the requesting agent.  Then the next day, I got another full request, but this agent said they will only read exclusive submissions.

What do I do?

I really want Agent #2 to read my MS - she feels like a great fit for my book - but I can't offer her an exclusive because Agent #1 already has it.

What do I do here?


Query Confused

Dear Query Confused,

I have experienced exactly this situation before and it sucks. It's really unfair of agents to ask for exclusives because all the advice is to query widely.  And if your query and pages are good, you are likely to get requests from multiple agents.  Which is what you want.

My advice in this scenario is to go back to Agent # 2 and explain that the MS has already been sent to another agent. I would also specify that it is only one, and that you will hold off on sending it out to any further agents for a period of two or three weeks to give her time to read.

She will either agree to these terms or say that she will pass because the book is with another agent.  And if she passes, it's her loss.  Your book could be the next Harry Potter or Twilight, but she's never going to know that now.

Who knows?  Tomorrow you could get another full request, and this time from someone who doesn't require an exclusive.  And if Agent #2 has already passed, you're free to send it out tomorrow, rather than having to explain that you have offered an exclusive to someone else and they will have to wait three weeks before you can send.  By which time their fire for the project might have dropped a little.

Good luck, whichever way you play it.


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