When an agent requests your manuscript

9 Nov

by Susan Dennard


As I was writing this, I got to thinking of all those awesome Goofy cartoons. You know the ones I mean – where Goofy learns to play baseball or ski or swim, and hilarity ensues… So heads up. Goofy’s gonna learn to navigate agents too…

Oh, and you have to imagine me as that snide voice-over in the cartoons. Very posh, very serious.


Garsh! This is hard.

Writing! The age-old profession for the entertainment of millions. Amongst those brave enough to pursue a writing career, it has been directly linked to premature aging and stubby fingernails.

These days, it seems the internet is saturated with information on researching agents. On querying agents. On handling The Call. Yet, where does one find information on partial or full requests? What does one do when offered representation while other agents still possess the manuscript? Or, what all writers dream about, what does one do if multiple agents offer representation?

Requests for Your Manuscript

Once you get over the initial and inevitable hand-clapping and squealing, try to calm yourself. After all, ::condescending voice deepens:: initial professionalism doth the man…er, dog…er, writer make.

Simply fill out this handy-dandy template, paste a copy of your query letter below it, and then attach the manuscript file to the email.

Dear <Agent Name>,

I was delighted to receive your request for a <full or partial> of <Book Title>. As asked, I have attached the manuscript (in MS Word format) to this email. I have also pasted my query letter below.

Thanks so much, and I look forward to hearing from you.


<Paste Original Query Letter Here>

An Offer While the Manuscript is Still Out

I gart an offer! Huh-hyuck!

Oh happy day! You have received your first offer. What do you do now? There are still 6 (or 16 or perhaps even 60) agents still in possession of your manuscript or query or synopsis.

You have two choices:

1) You may choose the offering agent and instantly – instantly, I repeat – notify the other agents of your decision.

2) You may decide to hold off on acceptance until you have heard back from all the other agents. If you choose to do this, then simply fill out this handy-dandy template and send it to all agents who have not yet rejected you. In the subject of this email, be sure to say: OFFER OF REPRESENTATION for <Book Title>, <Name>.

Dear <Agent Name>,

I would like to inform you that an agent has made offer of representation for my <Genre> novel, <Book Title>. I wish to make a decision regarding this offer within the next <Time Frame>, but I also want to give you a chance to read the <full or partial or query or synopsis or whatever you sent> I sent. If you could please let me know your position with regards to <Book Title> by <Day>, I would greatly appreciate it.

Thanks so much, and I look forward to hearing from you.


<Paste Original Query Letter Here>

Additionally, be sure you choose a reasonable time for decision making. The standard amount is a week to ten days, but you can do more (if perhaps you contacted a lot of agents) or you can do less (if you want a quick answer).

That said, if you give the other agents a deadline, then you REALLY SHOULD NOT accept any offers before that deadline. By giving the agents a chance to finish your manuscript and decide if they want to make an offer, those agents are effectively clearing off their schedules and prioritizing your manuscript. For you to accept an offer before hearing back from them is considered rude – you have just wasted their time.

Stay Tuned

Oh the complex world of writing! All non-writers wonder why you do it, and all writers wonder how you could ever do anything else.

Goofy and I will return at a later date to walk you through the final question posed: “What does one do if multiple agents offer representation?”

For now, though, Goofy must ice his sore muscles, and I – haughty voice over that I am – must go gargle salt water for my future gigs.


Susan Dennard is a writer, reader, lover of animals, and eater of cookies. She recently signed with Sara Kendall of NCLit. You can learn more about her writing process, crazy life-thoughts, and crippling cookie-addiction on her blog or twitter.


30 Responses to “When an agent requests your manuscript”

  1. Jennifer November 9, 2010 at 12:43 AM #

    I love this article! Not only is the information you departed Super Useful, but you really captured that voice-over voice. 🙂

    • sdennard November 9, 2010 at 10:13 AM #

      Why thank you, Jennifer. I *do* agree that I make an excellent snooty voice-over. 😉

  2. Rachael Harrie November 9, 2010 at 3:38 AM #

    Great post, informative and useful! Thanks for the letter templates 🙂


    • sdennard November 9, 2010 at 10:14 AM #

      You’re most welcome, Rachael! I hope they come in handy for you!

  3. Aurora Blackguard November 9, 2010 at 5:30 AM #

    *in a little kiddy voice* mama! I wanna have swooper kewl voice like that smexy lady on that show! The one with Goofy!

    Lol. I love this, Susan! Can’t really apply to me now but THMANX!!

    • sdennard November 9, 2010 at 10:15 AM #

      The key word is “now” — it may not apply to you yet, but one day! One day you shall be faced with this situation… That or you will become a famous voice-over. Hard to say. 😉

  4. Chele November 9, 2010 at 8:12 AM #

    Oh man you wouldn’t believe the amount of weird looks I got for laughing to myself during work today when I was reading this.

    Goofy + your voiceover + this article = WIN. ;D

    • sdennard November 9, 2010 at 10:16 AM #

      Merci beaucoup, Chele! I’m sorry you got weird looks, but I’m not sorry at all for making you laugh. 😀

  5. savannahjfoley November 9, 2010 at 10:14 AM #

    I imagined your voice as an elderly man with a slight British accent, lol! Like the narrator of Winnie the Pooh!

    • sdennard November 9, 2010 at 10:15 AM #

      HAHAHAHAHA. No. That’s not what I was going for, but it’s hilarious all the same.

  6. Julie Eshbaugh November 9, 2010 at 10:59 AM #

    Hey Susan. Great post. The perfect combination of info and humor. And I LOVED the use of GOOFY as a tag LOL. 🙂

  7. Sarah J. Maas November 9, 2010 at 11:25 AM #

    AHHHH! Love this post SO much!!!!! Fantastic advice, too!

  8. Melissa November 9, 2010 at 10:27 PM #

    Such a great post! I hope to have to follow your instructions for “An Offer While the Manuscript is Still Out” very soon! Fingers crossed! haha 😉

  9. Armith-Greenleaf November 9, 2010 at 11:14 PM #

    Lol that was adorable, even though I’m not a huge fan of Goofy myself, being a Donald shipper and all. But it was an amusing way to show the process… one I’ll have to get back to when I actually go through it, y’know. Ahem. That said, thanks for the lovely post and nice to meet you! (cos I had yet to say this.) 😀

  10. Writing Professional November 10, 2010 at 3:47 AM #

    In order to get your book published, it’s important to have an overview of the submission process. After you understand the basics, you will know which course of action to take.

  11. Claire November 12, 2010 at 10:21 AM #

    Picturing Goofy making a mess of this. It’s perfect!

    • Patricia Beal November 18, 2011 at 6:46 PM #

      Great information. Thanks. My manuscript is out with five agents and four publishers. On two of the publisher submissions, I had to do a re-send after receiving a weird failure notice on the original message. Of course that got me thinking: Something might have gone astray in the cyber world with the other submissions as well. At what point could I write a follow up to make sure I’m in their queue? The agents made their requests the first week of November. The publishers thing is brand new – last couple of days. Thanks! Patricia Beal.

      • Susan November 19, 2011 at 4:33 AM #

        I would wait a two weeks. If it were just a query, I’d say let it go, but since its your MS, I think it’s okay for you to contact the agents and say, “I’ve had technical difficulties with my email, and I’m just touching base to see if you received a copy of the full for TITLE, which you requested on X-date.” Then, I’d maybe paste your query letter below that, just to refresh them.

        Does that sound reasonable? Ultimately, there’s no right answer, and you just gotta go with what feels okay to you…

        • Patricia Beal November 19, 2011 at 10:10 AM #

          Thanks. I will go ahead and email the batch from November 3rd, and give the publishers from thsi past week anohter ten days or so before I ask them if they got the material and have me in their queues… How tragic is that? I now understand what people mean when they say writing the novel is the easy part 😮

  12. tb April 15, 2013 at 6:39 PM #

    Hi Susan – thanks for this great post! I’m not sure if you’re still receiving comments, but I have a (silly?) question. It seems from your post that it’s quite normal now to email manuscripts (in response to a request, of course), as opposed to using snail mail. Is that right? Am I being paranoid about having my entire manuscript out there in the digital ether, where it could possibly be copied and publicly posted with ease? Thanks for any help!

  13. Julie Israel June 28, 2013 at 12:49 PM #

    Thank you so much for this post, Susan. On the edge of first submissions myself, it may be romantic of me to think that this information will be relevant anytime in the immediate future…but I feel much better prepared for having read it! 🙂


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