Projects Under Consideration

When I reported my stats last Friday, you may have noticed I have 50 “Projects Under Consideration” and you may have wondered exactly what that meant. Well, I’ll tell you. But keep in mind, all agents do things their own way, and I don’t know if anyone else does this, so this is just ME.Basically what happens is, my client list is pretty full, and sometimes I’m in a phase where many of my clients need lots of my time, and I simply don’t have time for one more client. It goes in cycles… eventually the load will lighten, and I’ll have time to add clients to my list. So during the busy times, when I get proposals I’m really interested in but don’t have time to represent, I hold those proposals in a special file (“Under Consideration”) so that I can go back to them later when I have time. I let the authors know that I’m interested, but that I can’t make a decision right away. I ask them if I can hold on to it for awhile, I let them know they’re free to shop it elsewhere, and ask that they let me know if they want to be removed from consideration at any time. (Like if another agent offers representation.) This doesn’t mean “I will represent you later,” it means, “I like your project but I’ll need to defer my decision until later.”Then when I have time to consider new clients, I’ll go back and carefully read those projects and make final yes/no decisions. I won’t be able to say “yes” to everyone, but that second look will make it easier for me to sort through and make good decisions about what projects are right for me to represent.Since I’ve only been doing this for nine months, I’m still working out my processes and procedures. So far, this is what works for me. I think other agents might be better at the immediate yes/no, but I’m not quite there yet.(Any agents out there who happen to be reading my blog, I’d love if you could chime in and let us know how you handle this.)And those of you who are in the “Under Consideration” file, I’m starting to make my way through them. Sorry for the wait and thanks for your patience!

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. Anonymous on August 10, 2008 at 7:47 AM

    >I am reminded of my daughter’s preschool 10 years ago—It was called “Kids Under Construction”. It eludes to potential and things aren’t yet finished.

    Being under construction is still POSITIVE and I believe that writers always need to stay positive. You never know……

  2. Anonymous on August 9, 2008 at 9:37 PM

    >Wow, thank you so much!
    I got one of those from you and honestly had no clue what it meant, except that it wasn’t a rejection.
    Thank you, Rachelle!
    Have fun watching the Olympics.

  3. Karen on August 6, 2008 at 1:57 PM

    >I agree with Heidi and the others who have said “maybe” is better than “no.” “Maybe” says there might be something worth pursuing even if it’s followed with a “no.”

    One of the most encouraging moments I had at a conference was when an agent I met read my one sheet and burst out laughing in the middle of a crowded auditorium. After holding it for a while, she later said “no,” but that was enough to encourage me to pursue it further and I later got representation with someone else.

    Sounds like you have a good, fair system. If it works for you, keep it!

  4. Heidi on August 6, 2008 at 1:21 PM

    >I think this process is great. I’d much rather be put on hold than just told no because you were busy at the moment.

    It’s frustrating to think that the submission process is all a matter of timing. There are agents I might be rejected at one week because they were inundated with contracts on current clients and can’t see straight, when I might have had a shot if I’d queried a week later.

  5. Kristin Laughtin on August 6, 2008 at 12:41 PM

    >I think your process is really refreshing. Instead of immediately saying no because you can’t juggle another project at the moment, you hold on to the author’s work until you can give it a fair evaluation. At the same time, you don’t hold them back and allow them to continue to seek representation elsewhere, so they can move on with their career without having to wait for you. I’d love it if all agents were the same.

  6. Anita Mae on August 6, 2008 at 10:07 AM

    >Thanks for explaining your process, Rachelle.

    I’d never heard the phrase pertaining to an agent before and neither had any of my writer friends.

    Like I’ve said before, your blog is so timely, I figure you must have Someone whispering in your ear.

    Have a God day!

  7. Camille Cannon (Eide) on August 6, 2008 at 10:05 AM

    >It’s very reassuring to know that you prefer to wait until you have time to really look at a manuscript or proposal and give it your full attention. We should be thankful and confident that you don’t make these life and death decisions lightly.

  8. Courtney Walsh on August 6, 2008 at 9:44 AM

    >I think figuring out ‘systems’ and ‘procedures’ can be so frustrating!! (at least for me!) Sounds like you’ve got a good one here… and I’m with Karen! A ‘maybe’ FAR outdoes a ‘no’ every time! 🙂

  9. Karen Witemeyer on August 6, 2008 at 9:39 AM

    >I’ll take a “maybe” over a “no” any day. *Smile*

  10. Kaci on August 6, 2008 at 9:36 AM

    >Good idea…

  11. Sheri Boeyink on August 6, 2008 at 7:33 AM

    >That sounds like a plan. I’ve seen this process with agents as well.

    I do have a couple questions for you (and agents in general). As a writer we evolve, right? Tweak, edit, etc. What if the project, since it was put in the “under consideration” folder, has been further edited and tweaked to where the author feels it’s better? Tighter.
    Would you rather they resubmit the sample chapters to you, or just hold on? Also, if the author’s platform and affiliations, which is part of an official proposal, has increased or changed for the better. Would you want an update to the proposal?

  12. Chatty Kelly on August 6, 2008 at 7:00 AM

    >As I mother, I have an “under consideration” file too! ha! When my kids want to do something that I need to really consider or talk to their dad about, I put it in their file.

    It drives them as crazy as I’m sure it does your potential clients. Is it yes? Is it no?
    but it’s just maybe. 🙂