After hundreds of rejections, an email requesting a manuscript can be hard to believe. But if you’re targeting agents whose interests match your writing, and your writing is in a good place, eventaully you’ll get one (or several!).
Here are a few things to do:
Get really excited! This is a big deal! A request shows your query is strong and you’ve hit on the right agent/writer genre match. Still, try to play it cool (emphasis on try). Take a moment to feel validated, then get back to work.
Double check your manuscript: Make sure you’re sending the most recent copy (if you keep multiple versions). If you’ve written your piece on a different computer (as I did), transfer and save it. Don’t rely on sending work from a thumb drive. I had an agent ask me to re-submit because the version I’d sent showed all the edits along the way. While this is often easily remedied by clicking on the “show final mark up” option, don’t make the agent do the work (as I did), or worse, have him ask you to re-submit. Fortunately for me, this agent was very gracious. Still, I wasted a portion of his time.
Read over interviews: If you haven’t done it yet, read everything you can about the agent who’s requested your manuscript. The more you learn, the more prepared you will be if things progress.
Contact a few of the agent’s authors: Often when you Google an agent, you’ll be able to find some of the authors they work with. This is an excellent opportunity to learn about the agent from the people who work with them most closely. Read their blogs, interviews, and, if possible, drop them a note, asking if they might share any insight. Almost everyone I approached in this manner responded quickly, with kind and helpful things to say.
Be polite in all interactions: This is a no-brainer, I know. Still, keep it in mind. When in doubt, do the thing that seems most courteous. Though you’re under no obligation to tell an agent that others have requested your material, I think it’s appropriate to mention in a brief email along with your attached manuscript.
Which reminds me, be sure to submit according to the agency’s guidelines. Here’s another mistake I made: I emailed a story to an agent who’d requested it, only to get a note back saying he only accepted his requested manuscripts through the mail.
I can’t say I did this last one (in fact I failed miserably at it!), but try your hardest to stay away from constantly checking your email. This does nothing except eat at your day and make you super anxious. Remember this post?
Isn’t it great I made these mistakes so that you don’t have to? 🙂