Things That Might Happen After You Pitch

Waiting to hear from agents after you pitch can be agonizing. You never know, after all, if you will hear news in 30 seconds, three months, or never.  Anything is possible, which can be terribly disconcerting.

Here are some of the most common things you can expect to happen and a few bits of wisdom about how to proceed.

You Get a Request for More Pages

What to do:

  1. Be happy! The request may come in the form of an email or even a phone call. 
  2. Send the requested material ASAP – like THAT DAY – with a professional note. Don't gush. You can express your excitement, of course, but remember: You haven't gotten the gig yet. You have a lot of hurdles still to clear!
  3. Be prepared to wait to get a response to these pages. Reading takes a lot of time and you are probably in a big stack in the agent's inbox. 
  4. Unless the agent requests an exclusive that you grant, you can continue to pitch. Just be sure that your pitch includes a line that says you are sending the pitch to other agents.
  5. Unless the agent says to do something different, I advise writers to follow up on requested pages a month after the request. Send a professional, polite note. Something like this:

SUBJECT LINE: Follow up on requested pages

Dear Agent,

You kindly requested sample chapters of my manuscript, TITLE GOES HERE, a month ago. I know you are very busy, but I wanted to check in on the progress. I have re-attached the samples in case they got lost in cyberspace.

Thanks so much,

 

You Hear Nothing

What to do:

  1. If, after sending your first 5 pitches, you hear nothing at all from any of the agents or receive only form letters :
  2. Double-check that you followed the submission requirements.
  3. You may also want to reconsider your title. I once had a client who insisted on using a particular title that I was worried might scare off some agents. It sounded to me like porn, and the book was not porn. This author did not hear anything from any of his first five queries, and I urged him to re-title the book. He did so, and in the second batch of queries he sent out, he heard from three agents.
  4. You may want to re-think your entire pitch.

 

You Get a Bunch of "Good" Rejections 

 

What to do:

  1. If you got five rejections but some of them said something specific about your book or your idea, or something personally encouraging, you can probably carry on with what you are doing. 
  2. You should feel good about your progress. Something personal and specific is a good sign.
  3. The only exception to this rule is if every good rejection says the same thing – if there is a pattern. Then you may want to consider whether there is something amiss, and set about fixing it.

 

You Get Rejected After a Request for More Pages

What to do:

  1. If you had agents who requested additional materials, but all of them then declined without much comment, you must consider whether the pages you are sending are less than excellent. Odds are good they have some obvious flaws. 
  2. How long do you wait before getting a professional assessment of those pages? I would recommend seeking help after 5-10 such rejections. Remember, you can't go back to an agent who has rejected you, for any reason unless they specifically invite you to do salize

 

You Are Invited to Revise and Resubmit

What to do:

  1. Take the time to understand exactly what the agent is suggesting and decide whether you agree with her suggestions. If you don't agree, don't make the changes just to rope in the agent. You have to love your book. It's FINE to respond to suggestions – as long as they are suggestions that resonate with you.
  2. Understand exactly what the agent is offering. She may be asking for revisions but NOT YET promising representation.
  3. Take the time you need to do as good a job as you can on the revision. Speed is not important here; execution is important.
  4. When you resubmit, put the words "Requested pages" in the subject line; include the date of the original request and remind the agent what she requested.

 

THE BEST THING TO DO REGARDLESS

The best thing to do regardless of what happens when pitching is to keep doing your work. Keep trying to connect with readers, keep writing, keep setting aside time in your life for your creative pursuits. The work is the best celebration and the best solace.

 

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