You’ve done it! You’ve sent away your first queries (or are planning to send some soon) and are now patiently (or not so much) refreshing your inbox for any news from agents.
What are some of the responses you might hear back?
Read on for some of the most common.
Let’s get the not-so-fun responses out of the way first. You might receive a pass on your query within a few hours, a few days, or even months down the line after sending your pitch to agents. The majority of agents still respond to every query, but some don’t have the bandwidth to do so. Likely these agents will have a timeline posted on their submission guidelines that will let you know how many weeks after you submit to them can you consider their response a pass. Passes at the initial querying level are typically generic, with the agent simply stating that they didn’t fall in love with the project, that the pitch just wasn’t for them, or even that they already have something similar on their list. It’s important to not take passes to heart. Though this is difficult, publishing is a very subjective business. All it takes is one yes, so keep querying!
PASS WITH AN INVITATION TO SUBMIT MORE
There might be times when an agent passes on your manuscript but invites you to submit your next project to them. Or even asks you if there is another project that they can look at from you at the moment. Among the many reasons you should be professional when messaging agents after passes, this is a big one! Agents don’t offer to look at more projects from you unless they’re truly interested. This kind of pass might also keep you motivated to keep writing and working on your next project.
PARTIAL OR FULL REQUESTS
Based on your query and sample pages (if applicable) an agent might ask for a partial of your manuscript, which is usually fifty pages or so, or they might go straight to requesting your full manuscript. It’s a good rule of thumb to include your query letter at the start of the Word document before sending it to agents. And make sure that your manuscript is a standard, 12 pt., black font. A partial might also turn into a full request, so be prepared to send your full manuscript in a timely manner.
REVISE AND RESUBMIT (R&Rs)
You might have heard the term R&R before but haven’t been entirely sure what it means. R&R stands for Revise and Resubmit. This is when an agent passes on but also invites you to revise your manuscript based on their feedback (which could be extensive or a sentence or two) and send your manuscript back to them if you choose to make their changes. An R&R is completely optional! You should definitely believe in the changes being offered before tackling an R&R. If you choose to complete an R&R, it’s also good to keep in mind that it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll receive an offer of representation, but it is an opportunity to potentially make your manuscript stronger with the feedback from an agent!
REQUESTING A CALL
The most exciting thing that can happen once you’ve sent an agent your full manuscript is hearing that they’re interested in hopping on a call! This might be a phone or video call, the latter of which has become more commonplace since the pandemic started. The Call might be an offer of representation, which the agent might tell you about beforehand, or it could be to discuss changes before offering representation. Rarely, but it does happen, The Call might be a pass with the intent of offering feedback on a more personal level. It’s important to not jump to any conclusions about The Call, but to also be prepared! The Call is as much about you as a writer getting to know a potential agent and interviewing them as it is the other way around. Have questions ready to go, and maybe a celebratory meal planned for the best possible outcome.
Although this isn’t a full list of agent responses you might hear on your querying journey, we hope it has helped prepare you for five of the most common. Whatever responses you receive from agents, remember to celebrate that you have gotten this far. Querying is not an easy road or process, and just having the confidence to send out your work is a major step in becoming a traditionally published writer!