Wednesday, April 3, 2013

How long should I wait for my agent to respond?

Dear Mr Lukeman, I have been offered (email) representation by a very prestigious agency. I really wanted to go with them, so I responded with an immediate acceptance. The agent emailed back that she was thrilled, and would be sending out an agency contract, and was looking forward immensely to speaking with me on the phone. Since then, (two weeks ago)nothing. I have sent two tiny, non-'prodding' messages, and received a brief response to each, to the effect that the agent is very busy, but will contact me soon. I asked briefly about the contract. No response. Is it likely she has changed her mind? Does that happen after an extremely enthusiastic and firm offer of representation. I am so bewildered. Please help.

To begin with, I covered this topic in depth in my free ebook. Please visit and download it for free and read it.

That said, in this case I would back off and give it 2 more weeks and see what happens. In the scheme of your career a few weeks is not a big deal, and if the agency is as great as you imagine then it may be worth it. It can take you a lot longer than that to find a new agent. Also, the fact that she said she would contact you and you, instead of waiting, emailed her twice in 2 weeks, might raise red flags for her. Not to excuse her behavior--she should have followed up if she said she would--but this might be her perspective. Agents are swamped and it was also a holiday week.

If nothing happens in two more weeks then you can be more alarmed and outright prod her. If she still doesn't respond then you may want to look elsewhere. As I say in my book, every agent and author have different styles of communicating, and if you two are not on the same page it might never work. The real question is whether her silence now means she will do a poor job with the submission--and one can never know the answer to that. An agent might be in touch always yet ruin a submission--while another might never call you but do a great job!


  1. Mr Lukeman,
    Thank you for being so generous with you experience.
    I live in Australia, and I wonder: is there any disadvantage in seeking an agent who lives and works in a different country from you?
    Thanks in anticipation,

  2. Hello,

    I have in other hand a bit different question.

    As non-english origin person I'm writing in my own language. I'm living in UK from one and half year, so I'm able to communicate with people, but literacy language is much more diverse and unique than common one, and pretty sure that I'm doing a lot of mistakes.

    I'm planning to finish first book in my own language, and translate it.

    Now it's the question. From Agent/Publisher point of view, is there any difference/matter if:
    a) Book will be translated by paid translator (paid by myself by person live in my country and have book translation experience) with OK quality.
    b) Translated by myself but with poorer quality (author)

    I'm just curious if a) way is worse in Agent eyes in that matter, after all I'll be still an author.

  3. hi, my question is about genre. yikes!! but anyway, i'm having trouble with this. all of my stories naturally open up to me with the main characters as young adults. i say naturally meaning i don't purposely make the main characters young, the stories always unfold that way. so young adult fiction right? not so fast.

    my stories are not necessarily geared to the issues that 13 to 21 year olds face and thats the only reason why i cant simply call them young adult fiction. so i dont know where my stories fit (genre wise). young mc's but not young adult issues. its like they are written for adults but with young mc's. any thoughts? thanks.

  4. Hi Noah,

    What's the current state of the industry in regards to indemnity clauses in publishing contracts? In particular how often are these clauses "fair" (i.e. for breach of warranties only, indemnities only become active on final sustained judgment) and how often are these clauses "unfair" (i.e. indemnify for ALL claims, even frivolous ones).

    I ask because I've received a publishing contract with an indemnity clause which is, in my estimation, unfair. My agent says that's just the way it is now, but I'd like to be sure.

  5. Mr. Lukeman,
    Is there any reason NOT to create art contests, etc. around an unpublished, unsold manuscript? My inclination is that building buzz of any kind is a good thing. However, I don't want to create any disadvantages to finding representation.

    Elias Barton

  6. Hi!
    My question is about receiving editorial feedback from a prospective agent. If you speak to an agent on the phone and they send you detailed notes and ask that you revise and re-submit, is it appropriate to contact the other agents who have your full manuscript and let them know that you are doing an R &R? Or just say nothing and hope that they get back to you. I want to use the best professional etiquette. I have three fulls out there and am about to begin a revision and wondered if I should prod these other agents again or let it go. The other fulls have been out from 6 months to 3 months.

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.