Tuesday, April 24
RIP Partial Requests
Are partial requests a thing of the past?
I read several articles over the past few days that say yes. More and more agents are skipping over the partial request and going directly from query to full request when considering a manuscript for representation. The reason that the articles caught my eye in the first place was that I'd started to notice that very thing myself, and was wondering if it was simply a fluke or a real trend. I still spend a lot of time on QueryTracker.net reading comments, and more and more writers are reporting getting full requests from queries--which used to be practically unheard of. The initial reaction is, "Wow, they must have really loved my query!", but the truth may be simply that there is a new protocol emerging.
If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Back in the day, when we had to print and mail out all of our submissions through the post, of course we wouldn't want to pay to print and send an entire manuscript, only to have it rejected before the reader got past the first chapter. But now in the digital age, there is no difference between emailing a partial and a full.
It really could be a time saver for both the agent and the writer. If an agent likes a query, why not ask for the entire manuscript in advance? They will still start reading with the first three or so chapters(the partial), and if they don't like those, then they can stop reading and send a rejection. However, if they do like it and want to see more, they no longer need to ask the writer and then wait for it to arrive, possibly finding tons of other things to do and new projects to work on in the meantime. It really would make the entire process faster.
It will also force writers to be on their game, and weed out those few who think it's okay to query when you haven't finished the book. How many times have you seen a querying writer say, "Agent X loves my partial and requested a full! I'm going to spend the next few weeks cleaning it up so I can send it!" No, folks. It should be clean. It should be spic-and-span and ready to go out before you send your first query. Asking for a full instead of a partial will help the agent separate the men from the boys, so to speak.
The one problem I do see writers having with this, is the fact that there will now be a substantial rise of form rejections on full manuscripts. Usually, a form can be expected on a partial, but for a full, writers expect some sort of critique from the agent. However, this expectation is based on the assumption that the manuscript was read from beginning to end, which now, many more will not be.
Honestly, problems aside, I think this 'query to full' procedure makes a lot of sense.
You? Any thoughts?