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Literary Agent Manuscript Requests

If a literary agent asks to read your entire manuscript, pat yourself on the back! Something in your book or novel piqued the agent’s interest—not an easy thing to do. The literary agent believes you may have something that he or she could sell to an editor.

BUT—before you bundle up your manuscript and send it off in the mail, there are a few things to consider. You’ll want to get the most mileage out of the agent’s interest in your book. A savvy and diplomatic writer may be able to use one agent’s request to stir up interest from other agents.

Here are some options and tips to help you decide how to handle an agent’s request for a complete manuscript:

Of course, the easiest thing to do is to simply send the manuscript ASAP, as per the agent’s request. No questions asked.

But sometimes, it’s not that simple.

Submit to Review Board

Has the agent requested an exclusive read? If so, you may want to put the brakes on. There are a number of ways to handle a request for an exclusive, and we’ve written a post to help you make the right choice. READ MORE: When A Literary Agent Requests An Exclusive: Solutions For Sticky Situations.

If the agent is your top choice and you know that you’ll sign with the agency given the opportunity, then you do not necessarily need to drum up enthusiasm at other literary agencies. Doing so might feed your ego, but it may not be conducive to a strong partnership built on mutual respect and trust.

If, however, you’re hoping that a literary agent other than the one who requested your book will rep your writing, you may want to contact the agencies who have already received your query in order to inform them that you’ve received a request from another agent.

(TIP: Don’t call. Agents hate that. Email is fine. State simply that you want to let so-and-so know that another literary agency has requested your complete manuscript and that you want to extend the courtesy of informing said agency.)

You don’t need to drop the names of the people who are reading your book, but by informing the parties involved that your full manuscript is currently being read by others, you may just get bumped to the top of the slush pile. After all, no literary agent wants to get scooped by another agent.

Need help negotiating the finer points of the book publishing industry? Writer’s Relief submission strategists are here to help!

6 Responses to Literary Agent Manuscript Requests

  1. Dear Sir,
    One agent asked for my full manuscript. She also asked me whether I had a W8 on file or not. I sent an email asking whether I should attach the full manuscript to the email or not? In the same email, I asked her what a W8 was and the fact that I did not have it on file. I told her I wanted to discuss the formatting. I received no reply to that email. Then after 4.5 hrs, I sent her the full manuscript attached to an email. There was no confirmation of receipt.No offer has come in 1 month. I have sent a gentle follow up email after 1 month of submitting the full manuscript. Help.

  2. Is it worth getting an agent, especially if you’re not a celebrity? What is the normal percentage an agent should ask for or actually required?

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