You may have heard about “nudging” agents, but sometimes, knowing how to nudge or WHEN to nudge can be tricky. Never fear! I have nudged agents before and I can give you a bit of an insight into how it’s done. Spoiler–it’s not as scary as you think.
Ready? Let’s go.
A quick disclaimer:
I am only speaking on behalf of someone who has queried before, and not on behalf of any agents. There are agents out there who may disagree with my suggestions regarding how to nudge and others who may disagree with my thoughts on when to nudge. That is totally okay! And if you are an agent reading this (wow, hi!) and have any addenda you’d like to add, please feel free to reach out. I’d love to include thoughts from an agent’s perspective about the mysterious, elusive “nudge.”
When to Nudge
First things first, check the individual agency’s website. Scour it. Look for any information regarding response times. More often than not, they’ll tell you something like, “If you don’t hear from us in six weeks, we are passing on your project.” In cases like these, if it’s been fewer than six weeks, don’t nudge. If it’s been six weeks or more, don’t nudge. It’s right there on the website–no response means no.
Some agencies will say things like, “We will respond to your query within four weeks.” Green light! Wait a couple more weeks, just in case, and if it’s been six weeks and you still haven’t heard from the agency, you can nudge. Sometimes your submission got lost in spam or the agent you queried got super busy and missed you–it happens!
If you have a Querytracker account, you can also look through the stats and comments for different agents’ response times. If the average response time is two weeks and it’s been eight weeks, that’s a green light to send them a nudge.
In general, though, if you’ve not heard from an agency six weeks after sending your query, I advise you to count it as a pass. With so many queries flooding into inboxes these days, agents don’t always have the time to respond to every query. Furthermore, sometimes nudging on queries will move a query further back in an agent’s inbox queue. Every agency is different, but on the whole, I recommend sending your little query-boat out to sea and then not looking back.
On Partials and Fulls
Congratulations! You got a partial request or a full request!
Again, before you nudge, check the agency’s site, check Querytracker, and check your email. When your agent requested your manuscript, it’s possible they said something like “I’ll try to get back to you in three months.”
My advice on nudging overall is wait, and then wait some more. If the agency site or the agent said they’ll take three months to read your full, wait one more month before you nudge. When you count the days, include time for holidays, too (aka if they requested your full in November, basically don’t count December at all, as they are probably on vacation).
If your agent or agency’s page hasn’t given you any clues as to how long it’ll be to read your manuscript, I usually say nudge at 2 months for a partial and 3 months for a full. Again, this is just my experience talking. Some agents out there tell you up front that they read faster (or slower) than that.
How to Nudge
Remember, many agents have families and/or other jobs on top of being an agent. They read queries and manuscripts in stolen moments. Their time is very valuable. They aren’t untouchable gods we need to bow and scrape before, but they are very busy people, and your nudge should be helpful, not annoying. Above all, be polite.
To nudge, all you need to do is reply to your latest email, or follow other protocol for contacting an agent if that’s listed somewhere. Here’s what I say in a nudge, for a query, partial, or full:
Hi [Agent name]!
I just wanted to check in to see if you’ve had time to consider AWESOME BOOK NAME. No rush–I know you’re very busy, and I appreciate your time.
Thanks so much,
See? That’s not so bad. When I sent that email to agents, they were very courteous (some even thanked me for checking in)! Some would give me a simple “no, not yet;” some would tell me where I was in their queue; some rejected–but that’s a risk you take when you nudge. I haven’t gotten any rejections because I nudged, and I don’t think that’s something you should fear. Agents are people, too. If you’re polite and don’t send them, like, three nudges, you should be fine.
What if they don’t respond? Should I nudge again?
If they don’t respond… query another agent. Or write a new project. Honestly, the biggest advice I can give you today is move on. As a writer, you’re going to do a LOT of waiting. Waiting on agents. Waiting to hear from an offering agent. Waiting to get an edit letter from your agent. Waiting on your editor. Waiting on your illustrator. Waiting on reviewers.
All this waiting in queryland is good practice. We’ve chosen a business that involves a lot of patience. Time to exercise that now!
So go on and write that next book. Write fanfiction. Try embroidery. Read recently-published books. Make new writer friends. Do something to keep your mind off of the waiting. And, if you’re really daring… maybe log off of Querytracker 🙂
If you’re thinking about querying or self-publishing and you need some help polishing your pages, let me know! I really love editing, especially developmental editing, and I could always use some support! I’m especially good at shortening synopses 😉
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My prices for my freelance services are down below. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions!