1) Email them back
Copy their tone. If they’re “so totally excited to read it!”, start with something like “Thank you so much for your interest!”. If they’re more ‘interested in reading further’, say “thank you for your interest.”
Usually for requested material agents want everything attached in .doc format but make sure they don’t specify otherwise. To be super careful, if you’re feeling paranoid, check out their webpage to see if they have specified anything there.
Specify a specific day you will follow up with them, about a week away. So, it’s Wednesday today, maybe I’d say “I’ll follow up with you on Thursday of next week to ensure everything is in order”.
2) Follow up with them
Keeping it fairly brief, you’re calling and saying something like “Hello, my name is NameName, I’m the author of TitleTitle, a manuscript under your consideration right now…” And if its the agent speaking, ask if it’s a good time, and if its not, ask to speak with the agent you submitted to.
*Note: It’s often an agent or agency’s assistant that emailed you requesting more material. In that case, I always still asked to speak to the agent I submitted to but sometimes ended up speaking to assistants anyway. That’s fine, they’re often working very collaboratively, so you’re still talking to a good contact.
So, you’re on the phone with an agent or an agent’s voicemail. Oh sweet mercy, now what? Keep it brief. Say you’re calling to ensure the documents open properly and when that’s done, ask for an estimated response time (unless they already told you).
You’re suddenly the author that actually called. You care. They said the manuscript’s name out loud, they found it on their computer. They said your name out loud.
The first time I did this, I had further requested material the next day, when I hadn’t heard from the agency in weeks. Phones are terrifying but they’re magic. Do it.
*Note: Keep in mind, you should probably only call agents who have requested more material after your initial query. It’s not cold calling, it’s following up.
3) Get rejected anyway
Here’s an awesome thing about getting to this step though: they usually give feedback. What they liked that got them to request more material and what they didn’t that got them to reject it.
Thank them for their interest and their time. An email is sufficient for this. Agents’ phones are ringing off the hook and there’s no reason to call them now, but if they put in the time to read your work, thank them for it. You’ll notice they’ll thank you for the chance to read it.
4) Consider making edits based on the agent’s feedback
I didn’t at this step, but I’m thinking I should have. When an agent did call me interested in representing me and requesting some revisions, they were all very much in line with what I’d already heard. Maybe that call could have been an offer, if I’d moved faster on the advice I’d been given.
5) Sent out the next round of queries and find other ways to pitch to agents.
This process takes a remarkably long time. Be patient and keep in mind that if you’re looking to be a professional writer, an agent might very well be a long term career decision. It’s about more than getting that one finished book published, its about getting your career started. Of course that takes a long time. That doesn’t mean your career stays stagnant while you wait. Check back on Monday for ‘Waiting for an Agent to Call. Now what?”