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Exclusive Submissions: Treading Carefully

Q. I have been sending out multiple submissions for the past few months on my completed manuscript. I received and granted a one-month request for reading exclusivity to an agent. The next day, I receive a request from another house. What is the best way to proceed with the second request? I am not sure if I should tell the second agent to wait 30 days or just stall and send the manuscript to the agent in 30 days. What is the etiquette for this situation?
- Dave

A. First of all, congrats on getting multiple requests for the full ms.
Now, on to your question. The best etiquette is to simply be honest. Reply to Agent #2 (by e-mail, hopefully), saying how excited you are about their request for the full text, but you regretfully have to inform them that it is in the middle of an exclusive read. Ask them if you can send it to them in a few weeks when the exclusive period ends, providing Agent #1 has ultimately said no to the project. The quicker you can do this and reply, the more professional it seems.
If Agent #1 says no and Agent #2 hasn't answered your question, I advise sending it anyway. They wanted to see it, and they may have not replied because they were momentarily frustrated that you couldn't immediately send it. But, still, they did want to see it, so send the requested ms over to Agent #2 ASAP.

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