Need some advice regarding multiple requests for submission following query

I need some advice. 

Here's the situation: Last week an agency requested a full submission and asked me for an "exclusive" while they read my novel. I asked around (including published/represented authors) and was told that this is not unusual or unexpected. Since then, I have sent out no more queries but I do have several still in circulation. 

Today I received a very nice email from a second agency with a request for a partial submission. How should I handle this second request? Let them know it is currently being read and I will contact them as soon as I hear yea/nay from the first agency? Say/do nothing? 

I am still a bit new at this, so many thanks in advance for any advice!

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Since you agreed to an exclusive, you have to stick with it unless you want to withdraw the manuscript from consideration by that agency.

One of the bad things about exclusives is that the agency has no reason to get to your manuscript in a hurry. They know they're not competing against anyone else for it. Unless they gave you a specific time frame for reading it, you don't know when they'll get to it, and then you have no guarantee that you didn't spend months sitting on your hands waiting just to hear 'not right for us'.

It's only fair to let the other agency know they may have to wait a while. Just briefly explain the situation, and assure them you'll send it to them as soon as you can. If the first agency passes and you send it to the second, make sure to include a copy of their request email, and another synopsis of the book, because by that time they'll have forgotten what it was about. If the first agency takes you on as a client, you shouldn't have to notify the second about it. Most agencies deal with hundreds of queries a month. They don't have your manuscript, and they won't be sitting around, looking at their watches, wondering when you're going to send it. (Not good for a writer's ego, perhaps, but true nonetheless.)

I hope it works out for you, one way or the other.
Hi Pepper,

If I should ever be so lucky, getting a request from an agent requesting a full manuscript ... is it acceptable to request a reply within in ... say 30 days. Or is this just a situation where you ship it and wait until just before hell freezes to get a reply?

Just curious .....

From what I've read on agent blogs, you should try to pin them down to a reasonable length of time before sending them your manuscript on exclusive terms. What's going to seem reasonable to you may be too short for them, but if you can't get them to at least state a particular length of time, after which you can begin submitting elsewhere even if you don't hear back from them, it probably means they have no intention of hurrying and that you may wait as much as a year or more before they dust off your manuscript and give it a look--if they haven't forgotten it's there. (You hear horror stories about these things when you hang out at agent blogs.)

Thirty days is probably too short. If you want to know more, you could pop over to Janet Reid's blog and do a search on her posts on exclusives.
"it probably means they have no intention of hurrying and that you may wait as much as a year or more before they dust off your manuscript and give it a look"

Oh, yeah. Happened to me, but a small (respected) press was the culprit, nt an agent.

Get a deadline.
It's not unusual but most people frown on exclusives only because it limits the author of being able to submit their manuscript to others (like in your case) who might ask around the same time. If you've already granted the one agency the exclusive, you gotta tell the other agency. BUT, if you haven't granted the exclusive to the first agency, simply write them saying, "I cannot grant an exclusive..." Something like that. They will assume you've got fulls out in other places, that's all.

A lot of writers are not able to grant exclusives and prefer not to. The agency can be sitting on your manuscript for months leaving you unable to send out other requests. You gotta remember to do what's right for your best interest. The agent's looking out for themselves when asking for the exclusive to give them time to read it, they aren't concerned with how long they have you wait so you gotta remember to look out for yourself. You want as many chances to get an agent as possible and with agents being so slow, exclusives can be hell. Some agents say they will get back to you in a few weeks or a month and I know people who are sitting around for as long as eight months, waiting to hear back. Meanwhile, they aren't able to send that book out to anyone else so they are stuck.

A lot of agencies have stopped asking for exclusives I've heard.

Just my advice as an experienced published author, LOL!

Best Wishes!
Thanks one and all. I'm red-faced because I forgot to mention that the full submission agency gave me a 10-14 day window. I have some experience with film agents, and in that world things are a bit wide-open and wild west. Still unfamiliar with proper protocol for literary agencies and don't want to mis-step.
If you're already a week into a 10-14 day exclusive, then no, you probably don't need to notify the second agency. If the first one doesn't take it, you will still want to send a brief synopsis with the partial to the second agency, so they'll remember what it was they requested.
First, congratulations! Nice problem to have.

Second, my take on your dilemma:

My goal is to always act like someone I'd want to do business with. I'd say give the first agency the 2 weeks they've asked for, then if you get no response, let them know (nicely) that you have another request to see it. I wouldn't bug them during that 2 weeks--it's a short enough time, and you don't want to retract their exclusivity unless you absolutely have to.

With the 2nd agency, I'd to the same, in reverse: tell them the exact situation, and let them know when you'll give them the manuscript. They likely have tons of other projects, and are probably not in a mad rush to read yours; still, the courtesy of letting them know will probably be appreciated.

In addition to being transparent and decent to both agencies, you'll create a bit of buzz (hopefully). Each agency will realize that maybe their instinct to take you on is right, since it's shared by their competitor. I would never create fake buzz--especially not this early in my own career (it's like bluffing at a card game you don't know how to play). But if it happens naturally, that's cool, right?
What they said. Two weeks is very modest.

I do believe that an author should ask for a time limit on an exclusive, and one month is pretty generous. If they are truly interested, they can take a look in that time. If not, you don't really want them sitting on your novel while they do other things.

Good luck!
Many thanks to all! CS is a great sounding-board.

Nutty as it sounds, honesty is still the best policy.

If that elicits a "well, never mind" response, then agent 2 and I probably weren't meant for each other.
perfect attitude. when you're true to yourself, the right stuff happens.
When it rains... (??)
Just got another request for partial submission.
Also received a charmingly positive response to the email I sent to the other agent who requested a partial; in other words, she's willing to wait (and even explained a bit of the thinking behind exclusives).
Naturally, fingers remain crossed and I'm using this time to research my WIP.


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