A Bit About Exclusives

Many of you wonder how we agents decide what we want to represent. As you know by now, there’s no single or right answer. Much of it is subjective, especially when it comes to fiction. The business of exclusives is one that many writers don’t understand, and different agents probably do it differently, so I thought this article by Erin Brown from Authormag.com was worth checking out if your’e interested in the subject.

I agree with most of what she says about why an agent would ask for an exclusive, and I understand from the author’s perspective why there are reasons to think twice about granting one. My advice is to always be honest and keep the lines of communication open. If an agent wants an exclusive read on a novel of yours, this is a good thing, especially if it’s an agent you are really excited about working with. If the material is being read by others at the time an exclusive is requested, you need to let them know that and it’s the agent’s choice if they want to jump into the mix on a nonexclusive basis. Most of us thrive on the competitive nature of the business, so others reading a manuscript that I’ve asked for exclusively on will usually get me reading more quickly.

I agree with Erin completely that it’s fair and appropriate to put a timeline on the exclusive. No agent should have an exclusive submission for six months, and even the six to eight weeks she mentions for a novel feels long to me. Two to three weeks should be long enough for an exclusive read, and if the agent hasn’t read in that time, he/she has to be prepared to lose out to another faster reader. We all have a million things to keep us busy, so it’s up to each of us to prioritize those exclusives, and to respond within the promised time or risk losing the submission. Have you ever granted an exclusive read to an agent, and how has it worked out?

10 Responses to A Bit About Exclusives

  1. Joelle says:

    A top agent asked for a one month exclusive back when I was querying. I told him that while I was happy for him to read it, several agents were already reading fulls, but I’d be happy to send it to him if he didn’t mind waiving the exclusive request. He turned me down. How did it work out? Well, I ended up signing with Michael at DGLM and he’s since sold two books for me, so I’m thinking it turned out pretty darn well!

  2. EEV says:

    Joelle, you made me jealous, now :) Kidding.
    I’m not in the submission process yet, but (even after reading Erin Brown’s article) I can’t find a valid reason for an agent to request an exclusive. I mean, the world spins too fast, trends come and go, and this is simply not reasonable. Querying can take a long time, if a person go on granting exclusives, this plane will never leave the ground. Or it’ll be seriously late. :)
    – EEV

  3. Donna Hole says:

    I query so slow I’m sure I’m technically giving all the agents an exclusive :) My query has only recently satisfied me enough to send out again – after about a three year lull. I would be nice to get something other than a flat out rejection.


  4. Ooh, @Joelle, envy! Normally, I query simultaneously, but if an agent at a fabulous agency (like DGLM) wanted an exclusive for a reasonable length of time (e.g. 3 months or less), I’d be okay with it. I think I would need 3 months to recover from the shock anyway :-)

  5. P.S. I’m sorry this isn’t related to the current post, but I wanted to thank all of you at DGLM for including the list of blogs you read. Awful Library Books is a gem! I’ll never look at my public library the same way again.

  6. Sarah Ahiers says:

    I haven’t had a request for an exclusive yet, though i don’t overly have a problem with them as long as there’s a time limit and as long as that time limit is reasonable.

  7. I’ve had one request for an exclusive. It was for only 3 weeks & she actually came in under that. And though it was all for nothing as I just got another rejection, I used the down time to regroup & get my head in a better place again because querying is awfully hard on the self-esteem.

  8. Stacey says:

    Thanks so much for all your great insight into this topic. And Amy, glad you like our blog list!

    I do think there is a time and place for exclusives, but it’s sort of like dating. You have to feel out your partner and see what makes sense for each person and situation. Every relationship is different, and sometimes those exclusives can turn into a beautiful marriage between author and agent!

  9. this retarded nigga keep writing on my wall on fb! ugh..how do i get rid of him

  10. flyttefirma says:

    Rieni ruetting walsea fresher digable karloff palcy sprouts martian

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