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  • Agents’ Submissions

    Posted by Rose Blakeney on 12 November 2023 at 11:03

    Broadly speaking, we know the way that literary agents work but haven’t you always wanted to know more?

    For instance, exactly what do they do with the submissions they receive? We know that some use readers but which do and which don’t? Are the submissions forwarded straight to them and what criteria are the readers given for judging? Do they have a free hand?

    On average, how many submissions are actually seen by the agents themselves?

    I’ve tried several times in webinars to have these sorts of questions answered – but unsuccessfully.

    It would be very interesting to find jericho Writers asking such things directly. Never mind diplomacy! Writers should know exactly what they’re up against, especially beginners.

    Rose Blakeney replied 1 month, 3 weeks ago 6 Members · 11 Replies
  • 11 Replies
  • Libby Leyland

    12 November 2023 at 12:04

    These are good questions, Rose. It would be helpful to know some answers.

    The Eve White agency has some info about its readers on its website, though nothing about the process Staff | Eve White Literary Agency

    • Rose Blakeney

      12 November 2023 at 15:10

      Thank you, Libby. I’ve had a look at the Eve White site (I’ve submitted to that agency in the past) and Eve White certainly seems to be more open than any others, giving the details of their readers. At least you know that you aren’t necessarily going to reach the agent herself. Still, as you say, the key questions about the process aren’t answered. When Jericho Writers features agents in a webinar or interview, it would be helpful if they asked these questions.

  • Sara Jane Potter

    12 November 2023 at 14:07

    Hey, this is of massive interest to me too at the moment. I’m querying my novel and had 3 full requests quite quickly, two of which equally quickly became rejections, lol. Surfing this potential wave of success, I sent out loads more queries. I have a whopping 35 outstanding, sent mostly towards the end of October. And it’s all gone DEATHLY quiet. I know there’s been Frankfurt. I know we’re creeping towards Xmas. But I’ve never known such silence and waiting. I’ve heard plenty about it, obviously, from social media, writer friends, the writing community and experience. But what is actually going on behind the silence? Exactly? I have no idea. I know that good queries jump the queue, so agents MUST peak at their submissions. If I got full requests, then TOLD agents I had full requests, this has always reputedly garnered more of the same. But, still, nothing. I’m as easily knocked as any writer. I’ve already decided my writing is shite and nobody will want it. I’m already working on my new career plan. It’s horrendous. So, anyone who may be able to shed any helpful light on all this, would be much appreciated! Sara 😁 x

    • Rose Blakeney

      12 November 2023 at 15:18

      Hello Sara

      I can certainly sympathise with your submission problems, especially the silences. I’ve had my share of those. Haven’t we all?

      Congratulations on those full requests, though. This promises well for your future success. I’ve only ever had one full request (from a publisher) and I’ve been submitting to agents for a very long time (no more). That doesn’t make me think my writing is rubbish and it shouldn’t make you think like that, either. Those requests indicate otherwise.

      Good luck.

      • Sara Jane Potter

        12 November 2023 at 20:00

        Thanks, Rose. Onwards and upwards, hopefully. All of us.

  • Karen

    12 November 2023 at 19:42

    Possibly the agents at smaller agencies and agents actively building their list are reading submissions, but like you, I’d love to know for sure! I’ve submitted to agents that, according to their wishlists, are looking for exactly what I have written and I have not heard a thing from them. Of the 2 full requests I have had, one was from an unsolicited submission – she asked for the full after about 5 weeks and then declined 6 months later (she had been very ill so it was an abnormally long time for her). The other was as a result of a 1-2-1 on here, so I knew she had read my first-however-many-words-I-sent in preparation for our phone call. 11 months later she still hasn’t come back to me and last time I chased her she hadn’t even started reading it..!

    • Rose Blakeney

      13 November 2023 at 09:38

      Hello Karen.

      How frustrating! I hope you hear something soon.😃

  • Laure Van Rensburg

    12 November 2023 at 21:09

    The short answer is that it varies depending in the agent and agency. It’s like when you send an application for a job, you don’t know who exactly in the HR department reads the form — is it the interns, the HR Administrator, the Hiring Manager, etc… Same with literary agents — some read all the submissions they receive themselves, other delegates to their assistant all of the time, others delegate some of the time, they might make use of the intern in the few weeks they are there. So there isn’t any averages, if you ask 10 agents you’re likely to get 10 different answers.

    Reading unsolicited submissions is also a small part of what an agent to and a small part of their workload and a lot of them do it in their spare time which means the time it takes them to go through their slush pile can vary greatly depending on how much work they have dealing with their existing clients and what’s happening in the industry. Especially when you bear in mind that an agent can get an average 3,000-4,000 submissions a year.

    • Rose Blakeney

      13 November 2023 at 09:52

      Hello Laure.

      I expected to get at least one reply along the lines of “they all do it differently” but my point is that it would be helpful to know how individual agents work. It could play a part in where writers submit their work. At least they would know what they were up against. I wouldn’t expect all agents to be pleased to give the information I’ve suggested but their submission load shouldn’t prevent it. Any reduction in submissions would probably give them some relief!

      I appreciate your taking the time to respond.

  • Jim Condelles

    5 January 2024 at 19:36

    I’ve been querying since June of ’23. About 20 submissions so far and about half came back as thanks, but no thanks, so far. Only one agent replied with a few personal words, saying that while she has a soft spot for my subject matter, she can’t represent it at this time.

    It’s so daunting to go onto an agency website and see so many agents listed and have to navigate through each bio to see who’s a good fit. I can’t be the only one who finds this quite a challenge. Not giving up. Just saying it can be tedious for sure!