Great news! After countless rejections and maybe a few requests for revision, you’ve finally hit the gold! An agent–or maybe even more than one–is interested in seeing more of your story. It could be that they’ve asked for just a small sampling of more pages (called a partial request) or that they want to read the whole thing (called a full). Either way, here are a few things to keep in mind!
- Don’t keep them waiting. You want your manuscript to be ready to roll as soon as you get the request for pages. Ideally, it’s polished to a shine and won’t need any tweaks before you send it out. But I find in my own experience that it doesn’t hurt to take a day and give it a quick once-over. Just be sure not to overdo it. Now’s not the time for huge changes. Just make sure that you don’t have any dangling sentences or glaring errors and hit send.
- Send ONLY what they’ve asked for. If the agent has asked for the first fifty pages, don’t decide they really need to read until the major turning point and send eighty. It smacks of unprofessionalism and indicates that you won’t follow directions later. That can make an agent leery of working with you.
This includes supplementary materials that they may ask for, too, such as the synopsis. If they ask for one page, don’t send three. NEVER send cover mock-ups, drawings of your characters, maps, or anything else of the kind. It doesn’t matter how much time you’ve spent on them; they don’t belong in the agent’s hands right now. If they manage to sell your book, the publishing house will work with you on all those things. If you feel they absolutely MUST have the map you spent a week on in order to understand your plot, you can mention briefly in your e-mail response that you have one if they want it. Just don’t be surprised if they don’t.
- Always thank them for their interest in the project. When drafting your reply, it should go without saying that you should be brief and courteous. There’s no need to write a long letter. Something along the lines of “Thank you for your interest in ‘Project Name’! As requested, I’m attaching ‘X materials’,” will suffice. You really want the story to speak on its own merits, now more than ever.
- Be patient. Don’t send follow-up e-mails to see how the reading is going, don’t tweet at to check up, and absolutely don’t call. There are two exceptions to this. First is if the agent already has an established pattern of responding to people on social media who are following up on requests. Some do. Most do not, and it’ll only annoy them if you do. Second, if the agent or agency page expressly says to follow up if you don’t hear back within a certain period of time. But don’t jump the gun on this. If they say three months, that means three months. Still, try not to do this if you can help it at all.
- Keep querying. A partial request–or even a full–doesn’t mean that you stop sending it out. Even with this response, get the next hook in the water. A request isn’t a guarantee of representation, and even an offer isn’t a promise that you’ll end up signing with them. Don’t lose valuable time on the off chance that this one agent sends you an offer. More options are always better than fewer.