Exclusives

There is a certain amount of additional excitement surrounding submissions when a potential agent asks for an exclusive arrangement in evaluating your material. I certainly felt that. I recently had two respected agents ask me if I would be willing to give them an exclusive on my new book. After I finished punching the air like Mike Tyson, I was able to calm down just long enough to say, “Yes!” Both had asked within a seventy-two hour window and it pained me to have to tell the second that I would need a little time to agree as someone was ahead of them on the same request. I wanted to be fair and play “by the rules”, after all.
Within minutes, I hit the send button and off my submission went on an electronic highway to someone I hoped would enjoy what they read. Every time I got a notice a new email had arrived I would stop whatever it is I was doing and hastily look to see if it was a response from the agent. After four weeks (our agreed upon timeframe) of being teased by the dozen or so daily emails from Petco telling me I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to show my dog I really really loved her by buying a twenty-seventh toy, I needed to find out where our arrangement stood. A follow-up email the fifth week was sent and I didn’t hear back. I checked my sent file, my trash file and made sure the file attachments weren’t translated into Russian before I sent them off. Finally, after six weeks, I felt sure I was safe to contact agent number two.
With a slightly dampened mood, but no less excitement at a great opportunity, I smiled as agent number two said they would still be happy to review my work. After checking over the material for about eight hours in a clinical display of OCD, I sent off the book to agent number two. Several folks, who I don’t know, had read the manuscript in the past several weeks, and word had gotten back to me that they were sure it would be a hit. With hopes buoyed and excitement filling me, I eagerly scanned my emails for the following four weeks. At the end of the term, I once again checked the various corners of Google Mail to make sure nothing had fallen through the cracks. So far, no joy.
As a newer kid on the scene, I still find myself wondering where things may have fallen through the cracks. I know for a fact agents are ridiculously busy. I can imagine a slush pile manuscript falling off the table for any hundreds of reasons with no reply to the writer — most of us expect that. I still remain confused if that happens with any regularity on an agent-initiated exclusive request. One thing is for certain, it can be tough out there.
I’m now three months out and no closer to my goal. I wonder if there has been missed opportunity in that span of time with someone else. Perhaps. I still wouldn’t have done it any other way. I’ll be in New York in early July attending the annual ThrillerFest and meeting some of the best agents in the business. Regardless of the outcome there, I’ll be moving forward with my career, surrounded by the writers I admire most. In the meantime, it’s time to get back on the bull.

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