“Why do literary agents take so long to respond? Don’t they make money signing new clients??”

“Why do literary agents take so long to respond? Don’t they make money signing new clients??”

Q – 


I have sent queries to several literary agents. Those who have acknowledged receiving it have said it would take four to six months to respond. Others have not bothered to even respond. I do accept that they are busy people but four to six months is a long time to wait for a response.

Why do literary agents, who supposedly make money when they sign up a client, behave so unprofessionally and arrogantly?

– M.L.

A – 

Literary agents don’t make money signing new clients. They make money when they SELL an author’s manuscript to a traditional publisher. I am not surprised that good, reputable agents have a four- to six-month backlog of manuscripts to consider for representation.

Authors need to remember that real literary agents don’t charge authors any up-front fees. They don’t owe hopeful authors anything and their wait times do not make them “unprofessional.” The busier they are, the better the chances they’re a very good agency.

At our Abuzz Press publishing division, we charge no setup fees to authors, meaning we foot the bill on all the publishing costs. Since the investment is significant on our part, we can only publish a few books through that division each year.

I am astounded by some of the abusive emails I receive from authors whose manuscripts are rejected. They state things like: They were doing us a favor submitting their manuscript; we owe them something for their efforts; our lives and business will be ruined if we don’t award them with free publishing services; etc., etc. Some of the emails are extremely angry and abusive. It’s really bizarre how some people react to rejection.

On the flip-side, authors who are rejected by our fee-based BookLocker division seem much more professional. Go figure…

If someone is offering you a free service (or one with zero up-front fees), and risking their own money and reputation on the partnership, you should not get upset if they take a few weeks or months to make a decision, nor do you have the right to insist that they work with you just because you contacted them. Prima donnas are far more likely to get rejections in this industry.


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One Response to "“Why do literary agents take so long to respond? Don’t they make money signing new clients??”"

  1. Pamela Allegretto  August 14, 2020 at 1:14 pm