Posted On October 10, 2012 by Print This Post

Sara Megibow Sells Romance – Submission Suggestions

Sara Megibow is here again to give us her best submission suggestions. As always, she’s candid, real and full of the things we need to know.   Check it out!

Submission Suggestions

Let’s say your query is a huge success and agents ask for sample pages. Yipppeeee! Let’s say your sample pages are fantastic and agents are asking to read the full. Another YIPPEEEEE!!!! Now what? We don’t talk about this step in the publishing process as often and yet I have suggestions and insider tips.

1) If more than one agent asks to read the full, you do not have to worry about updating us on that step. In fact, if agents are asking for the full, then it’s 100% ok to keep querying. Just keep moving forward and don’t send out updates.

2) When you DO get an offer of representation, though, please let us know. Whether you’ve sent a query, a partial or a full – please contact all those agents to say, “I have an offer of representation on the table and I’ve asked for an addition number of days to follow up with other readers.” This is professional and normal and we appreciate the heads up. Emailing us to say “I’ve accepted an offer of representation” can feel frustrating because odds are we’ve already invested some time in reading your work and if we’re given that extra time to read and make a decision we will do so.

3) The one big exception to this rule – If your absolute dream agent is the one offering, it’s ok to let the other agents know you’re accepting what is essentially a pre-empt. Don’t ask an agent to spend her/his time reading your full manuscript if you know you are going to sign with someone else.

4) You’ve received an offer and are waiting for others to read and respond? Great!! Now…my suggestion is to stay hush hush about this on the internet. Don’t post or blog –just out of professional courtesy. Is it a deal breaker? No, but posting about submissions can cross the line so easily that I recommend avoiding it in general.

5) What is an appropriate amount of time to give your remaining readers? I’d say 5-8 business days. Let’s face it – if you email me today and ask me to read by tomorrow, I’m likely to pass even if I would have liked the book. But, 5-8 business days is totally professional and fine. The offering agent will wait and the other agents will appreciate the extra time.

6) Does an offer on the table increase your chances of having other agents offer? I say no although other people say yes. Here’s an insider secret – we know that authors sometimes fake an offer just to get us to read. Horrifying yes, and yet it happens. Don’t do this. The entire publishing experience requires patience – don’t blow your chances by trying to force the system. It’s not a great system and we all know that. But, cheating or lying doesn’t help.

7) Email, don’t call. Most agents have a no-phone-call policy listed on their website. Please respect this policy even if you feel your situation is urgent. We do read our email even if it takes a day or two to get to it. We don’t answer the phone (well, at our agency we don’t answer the phone – someone else out there might do it differently).

8) Many of these suggestions apply if you’ve received an offer of representation from an agent OR a book deal from a publishing house.

9) For the record, we get 2-3 of these emails a week – authors who have an offer of rep from another agent or a book deal from a publishing house. It’s not an unusual situation and we try hard to honor these more urgent requests.

Hope you are all in this situation soon and I hope these ideas help!
Happy writing,


Okay – so hit her with your best shot (sorry, I’ve got Pat Benatar on the iPod).  If you’re submitting or thinking about submitting, I know you’ve got questions!

NOTE – Sara is traveling today but will answer all the questions tonight!

On Friday, Leslie Berry talks about connecting with the right editor. See you there!


Bio: Sara Megibow, Associate Literary Agent
Nelson Literary Agency, LLC

Sara has worked at the Nelson Literary Agency since 2006. As the Associate Literary Agent, Sara is actively acquiring new clients! The Nelson Literary Agency specializes in representing all genres of romance (except inspirational or category), young adult fiction of all subgenres, science fiction/ fantasy and commercial fiction (including women’s fiction and chick lit). Sara is an avid romance reader and a rabid fan girl of super sexy and intelligent stories.

Nelson Literary Agency is a member of AAR, RWA, SFWA and SCBWI. Please visit our website http:// submission guidelines, FAQs, resources and sample query letters. Sara’s Publisher’s Marketplace site ( is a great place to find more about her personal tastes, clients and recent sales. You can also cyber stalk Sara on twitter @SaraMegibow

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17 Responses to “Sara Megibow Sells Romance – Submission Suggestions”

  1. Faking an offer is just plain dumb. The other agents might not have time to read you ms with the short deadline, and you’ll lose out big time.

    Posted by Stina Lindenblatt | October 10, 2012, 6:44 am
  2. Hi Sara,

    What if the author tells you another agent is interested and so are you? Do you make an offer too?

    Mary Jo

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | October 10, 2012, 7:12 am
  3. Hi, Sara! Thanks for summing this up so clearly and all in one place.

    I’m curious about your opinion on mentioning to agents when an editor is interested in your work. I don’t like to query editors while I’m querying agents, because I understand if all the editors reject my story there’s not much an agent can do to sell that particular story. But if an editor asks to see a manuscript because of a contest or a meeting at a conference, especially if the editor has read previous work and likes your voice, does that carry any weight in a query to an agent?

    Thanks again for all your fantastic advice!

    Posted by Jamie | October 10, 2012, 7:16 am
    • Hi Jamie –

      an excellent and complex question. In my opinion (remember that other agents may do it differently), hearing that an editor is reading or has read a submission is a bit of a red flag. As you say, I want to submit a project on my own to editors I know at imprints I know. That being said, I always respect when an author gets a request for a read from a contest or conference and that’s not a red flag at all.

      Honestly, the best thing to put in a query letter is a great pitch. Above and beyond that, I don’t need much other info. Hope that helps! It’s a more complicated situation but certainly one we see frequently!

      Posted by Anonymous | October 10, 2012, 8:35 pm
  4. Hi Sara,

    Is it appropriate to name names, or is the e-mail supposed to be vague?

    Also, I heard that submitting directly to an editor of a small press will not bother an agent as much as if you try to submit to a large one. Is that true (as far as your opinion goes)?

    Thanks for another great post!

    Posted by Patricia Moussatche | October 10, 2012, 7:46 am
    • An excellent question!

      For me personally, I prefer a book not to be shopped at all when it comes to me on submission. In the case of a contest win or conference submission I think its ok, but in an ideal world I would control the submission entirely.

      Let’s see as for naming names – agents know each other so it’s totally ok to tell us who has offered. We’re all friends. So, that’s fine – no need to be vague

      Posted by Anonymous | October 10, 2012, 8:51 pm
  5. Great post, Sara. I had to deal with this recently and it was important to me to handle the situation properly. I needed to find the best fit for my book, but I also wanted to be respectful of the other publishers that made an offer or showed interest in my manuscript.

    In the end I handled the situation in a way that will still allow me to make future submissions to either of the publishers I didn’t select.

    Posted by Roxanne | October 10, 2012, 8:19 am
  6. Ooooh – Pat Benatar! Sad to say, I had her on CASSETTE. Maybe even 8-track, too. Geesh.

    Thanks for another helpful post, Sara! Not that I’m in a position to make use of it right now, but I’ve had friends who could have really used this info and didn’t know who to ask for it. I’m going to bookmark it for future reference – you never know! 😉

    Posted by Becke Davis (Becke Martin) | October 10, 2012, 9:11 am
  7. Afternoon Sara!

    I of course am I hoping I’ll be in such a situation some day. =) My question is, if your dream agent has said yes, I’ll represent you….you still need to let the other agents know….would you just tell them that? My apologies, but my dream agent has offered representation, and I hope there are no hard feelings? Or is that corny. =)


    Posted by Carrie Spencer | October 10, 2012, 3:19 pm
    • Hi Carrie –

      I think that’s totally ok and not corny at all. I would rather know upfront that I’m not in the running than spend 4-5 working hours reading and evaluating a manuscript to be told “I wasn’t really considering you anyway” We respect the “it’s my dream agent” thing and no hard feelings at all!

      Posted by Anonymous | October 10, 2012, 8:56 pm
  8. Hi Sara,

    Okay, my mouth is hanging open. I can’t believe an author would put their reputation on the line and “fake” an offer of representation. Yikes.

    My question is a bit outside of the scope of the subject.Is there a certain amount of time an agent will spend shopping a book?

    Thanks for another informative post.

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | October 10, 2012, 5:09 pm
    • Hi Jennifer –

      I’m sure that it depends on the agent and the book. 24 months perhaps? That’s my guess anyway – it takes 2 – 8 months to get everything read and if everyone passes, another 2-8 months for another round of submissions and maybe even a third? depends on the genre too of course. Great question!

      Posted by Anonymous | October 10, 2012, 8:57 pm


  1. […] you’re looking to submit to a literary agent, check out this post from one of them with her best tips on Romance University. Then stick around the site to enjoy this […]

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