This article about what happens when a literary agent requests your full manuscript is part of our free 15-Part Guide About How to Get a Book Agent. It explains how to prepare and submit your manuscript, and what to expect once your manuscript has been sent.
Keep in mind, however, a very small number of agents request the full manuscript be submitted with the query letter when an author first contacts the book agent. That way, if the publishing agent wants the full manuscript after reading the query letter and opening pages, they don’t need to ask for the full manuscript–or wait to read it!
What Happens When a Literary Agent Requests Your Full Manuscript? – FAQ
You won’t know exactly what will happen when a book agent requests your full manuscript until you get a request. That’s because publishing agents handle manuscript requests and manuscript reviews somewhat differently. However, all book authors should do–and expect–some or all the following:
- Proofread your manuscript
- Send what was requested
- Send everything the way it was requested
- Manuscript review
- Editorial comments
- An offer, resubmit offer, or rejection
- No response
Proofread Your Manuscript
Avoid unnecessary stress by proofreading your manuscript and any related material for typos, grammar problems, and formatting issues before you get a request from a book agent. Taking too long can also make you look flaky, and the book agent’s enthusiasm can wane.
Send what was requested
What happens when a literary agent requests a full manuscript is sometimes an unnecessary rejection, due to the author not following instructions. Since the most successful and established book agents receive more than 10,000 queries per year, you can give yourself a competitive advantage by carefully following each book agent’s submission requirements.
If a book agent asks for your full manuscript, don’t send a partial. If a book agent asks for your full manuscript, only, don’t send your synopsis as well. If a book agent asks for your full manuscript, only, don’t add sample pages for your next book.
Send everything the way it was requested
If a book agent asks for your manuscript as a PDF document, don’t send it as a Word or Pages document. If you do not know what a PDF file is, Google it and you will see how to create one. And, if a book agent asks you to send your book via postal mail with a second copy for her intern she is training, you should.
What happens when a literary agent requests your full manuscript is affected by how closely you follow literary agency guidelines. Following publishing agent instructions isn’t about being controlled or being afraid; it is about getting book agents to do what you want: focus on your content, rather than your inability or refusal to follow instructions. Author representatives need certain things a certain way to do their job well and, hopefully, sell your book.
Some authors don’t say anything when book agents request their full manuscript. just send it without a note or cover letter. The book agent is left to wonder why. Did the author write a note and forget to include it? Was the author so busy or are they so narcissistic that they couldn’t take a moment to write a short note? Is there something they aren’t telling the author representative?
What happens when a literary agent requests your full manuscript can be impacted by what you say as well. When you have the good fortune of having a book agent request your complete manuscript, say something. Anything. It doesn’t have to be long-winded and it shouldn’t be flattery. It should be appreciative, positive, and kind. And it should answer any question the book agent asked when they requested your manuscript, if they asked for information.
For example, publishing agents sometimes ask questions such as: Is this an exclusive submission? Have any other book agents requested your full manuscript who are still considering it? Have any publishers seen this manuscript?
What happens when a literary agent requests a full manuscript? Many authors are surprised to discover that book agents often don’t read an author’s complete manuscript. Book agents work on commission, so if they discover partway into a manuscript that it is not a fit for them or will require too much editing, they often stop reading.
What happens when a literary agent requests your full manuscript? If a book agent reads your entire manuscript, even if the agent ultimately rejects the book, it’s a good sign they liked it enough to finish. It’s no fun getting rejection letters, but when you get a rejection letter from a book agent who read the entire manuscript, you came close. The next book agent who reads the whole manuscript might offer representation.
What happens when a literary agent requests a full manuscript, in the area of editorial feedback? Though many book agents don’t provide suggestions after reading an author’s complete manuscript, many do. The feedback might be sparse and unclear, or detailed and actionable.
Be careful attempting to interpret editorial comments from book agents. At times it can be hard or impossible for even a publishing insider to interpret what a book agent means. The best thing you can do when you get feedback from a requesting book agent is share it with someone you trust–someone who knows the industry so they can help you evaluate it.
An offer, resubmit offer, or rejection
Once a book agent has read your compete manuscript–or enough of it to decide whether they believe it is a fit for their list–they usually reply with one of the following: 1) an offer for representation, 2) an invitation to resubmit your book after incorporating their editorial suggestions should you decide to do that, 3) a rejection, and/or 4) an invitation so submit a different book(s).
If the book agent told you, when they requested your manuscript, they would read your book and reply by a certain date, and that date has passed, follow up. Send a polite, appreciative, and non-pushy message to ensure your manuscript was received and that you did not miss the agent’s reply. Most book agents are more organized and considerate than that. You’re much more likely to receive a reply than silence.
This article about what happens when a book agent requests your full manuscript was written by former book agent turned author coach Mark Malatesta, creator of The Directory of Literary Agents, host of Ask a Publishing Agent, and founder of Literary Agent Undercover and The Bestselling Author.
Mark has helped hundreds of authors get offers from literary agents and/or traditional publishers. Writers of all Book Genres have used our Literary Agent Advice coaching/consulting to get Top Literary Agents at the Best Literary Agencies on our List of Book Agents.
What Happens When a Literary Agent Requests Your Full Manuscript? – Next Steps
Now that you know what happens when a publishing agent requests your full manuscript, click here to:
- See our free 15-Part Guide About How to Get a Book Agent.
- Visit our Ask a Publishing Agent page, where you’ll find a complete list of questions and answers about finding and getting a book agent.