I have a thought on exclusivity with agencies. With magazines, they're a hassle, but I understand why they do it. With a book publisher, I actually don't know of any who refuse multiple submissions (which isn't saying much, I haven't gotten to the point where I'm ready to talk to publishers...hence the need for an agent), but agents?
Let's break this down. We'll start with requests for full manuscripts. Obviously, it's COMPLETELY reasonable to ask me not to send out queries to anyone else. After all, they're seriously considering my work, and if I decide to go with anyone else while they're looking over my book, I've pretty much wasted their time.
Partial requests. This one depends on whether or not they'll give me an offer based on the partial, or if they'll want to see the complete manuscript later. From what I understand, it takes anywhere from three to eight weeks to look over a partial, and if it takes even longer than that to look over my full, then they're basically asking me to hold my breath for several months to half a year. If I'm giving exclusivity with a partial, I would like some kind of timeline so that I know how to plan in the event of a refusal. Obviously, if I've given them a partial, they actually are interested in the book.
Exclusive queries. When I send out a query to an agent, I don't expect to hear back from them for at least three weeks, often times longer, and occasionally shorter depending on what they say on their website about how quickly they respond. So, with as many agents that exist, and how difficult it is to get one, asking me to query one agent at a time is unreasonable. Especially if the agent declares openly that it will take at LEAST six weeks to get back to me. I've run into one such agent, and I didn't query them. If I went one agent at a time, it could take me YEARS just to find representation.
When an agent asks for a partial or full manuscript, then I'll be willing to give them exclusivity, but if they want me to wait for a month an a half just to hear back from them when I could query five agents at once, why should I work with them? What do they have to offer? (And that's not a derisive question. If they have HUGE clients and promise to work with me just as hard as they work with them, then I'll be open to an exclusive query, but not if their client list consists of seven unpublished authors and one indie-press romance that sold 100 copies before going out of print.)
Do any of you have thoughts on exclusivity? This may sound one-sided, but I basically don't like the idea of waiting six weeks for a probable rejection. It just doesn't make sense, business-wise.