If you’re an author querying agents, you might have come across an agent who asked you for an exclusive. What does this mean? If you agree to an exclusive, she will be the only agent reading your manuscript during the timeframe.
While there might be good reasons to give an agent an exclusive read, there are plenty of reasons why you shouldn’t. So before you agree to this, understand what this could mean for you and your career.
Let’s take a look.
-If only one agent is reading your work, you have to wait until that agent decides whether or not she wants to offer you representation.
-If she rejects your manuscript, you’ve lost that time, when others could have been considering your work.
-If she offers you representation, you either need to accept or decline. You can’t now contact other agents to tell them you have an offer. You’ve lost the chance to see what others might think of your work and who else might be interested in representing you.
-If you have queries, partials, and fulls out with other agents and Agent A asks for an exclusive, the only way you can honor it is to pull everything from the other agents, which won’t impress them. If Agent A doesn’t offer to represent your work, it’ll be uncomfortable to re-query the others, and I’m not sure they’d be open to that. You might have to start over with different agents.
Agent Janet Reid says, “Agents who ask or expect exclusives imply their time is more valuable than yours. That’s hogwash. Agents who ask for or expect exclusives imply there’s no need to persuade you of the merits of signing with them. Agents set a lot of parameters to conduct business efficiently: query letter forms; no phone calls; no attachments; the endless list of things done and not done. Exclusives are not only not necessary, it makes the query process less efficient for EVERYONE.” http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/2009/08/exclusives-stink.html
Here’s what Miss Snark has to say: http://misssnark.blogspot.com/2007/02/how-many-times-have-i-said-this.html
The point is that there might be a time when an exclusive is beneficial, but make sure you understand what you’re getting into and don’t let an agent have an exclusive for more than a month.
Have you ever been asked for an exclusive read? What did you do?