Agency Lessons: The Partial Request

First things, first. I hope you guys enjoyed last month's Building the Buzz session. Your feedback has been wonderful. So while my brain is fried, my heart is happy. Thank you for that. You still have time to complete those tasks and be eligible for the giveaway. In case you missed it, here are the guidelines to get your entry in and a reminder of the prizes.

Now, how about some agency lessons!
Before I started requesting my own manuscripts for consideration, I was confused by the partial request.

Back in the stone age when everything had to be physically printed out and mailed to the agent, partial requests made sense. No point in asking a broke writer to fork out the money to send a full 300+ page manuscript when there was a good chance the agent would only read the first 30 pages or so.

So I thought, with technology being what it is, and the hefty burden of shipping gone, why would an agent still only request a partial. I thought it was a silly outdated practice and it was fully my intention to only request fulls. Tradition be damned.

Now I understand, at least for me, why a partial is still the right call sometimes.

Here's the thing. I like to read. Like really, I enjoy it immensely. I was the kid who got in trouble at the breakfast table for not paying attention because I was too busy reading the back of the cereal box for the twentieth time. I'm sure this is shocking information. The problem with this is that even if a story isn't for me or I don't think it's something I can sell, the draw is there to keep reading.

Even if I know after 10 pages I won't be offering representation, I find myself continuing to read. Not because the story has pulled me in and I can't stop. But because reading is relaxing and enjoyable and more fun than evaluating queries, putting together pitch letters, or researching publishers. See the problem?

By only requesting a partial, I limit myself from too much time wasting. Plus, I know if I get to the end of the submission and I'm dying to know what happens next, this is something I need to see more of. If, on the other hand, I get to the end and realize I can walk away and live happily without knowing any more, this is a pass.

I still request fulls from a query. Sometimes a story just sounds so good, I don't want to have to wait for another email to send me the rest. But I try to limit these because when it comes to reading I have zero self-control.