Everyone wants you!

A hypothetical question for you. Say an author is querying many agents at once with her first novel. The planets align, fish rain from the sky, and three of those agents write back asking to see more pages. Now, since none of them have asked for an exclusive, the ecstatic author mails all three the pages they asked for. More miracles happen, and one of the agents calls her a few days later with an offer of representation. Is it beyond rude to ask her to wait for a few days because you want to see if the other agents will bite? Or should the author thank her lucky stars and take the one who called? After all, like a good snarkling, this author has researched her agents and knows that the one who's extending the offer is the kind of agent she'd like to have. Is there any value in waiting and comparing agents? Since all three will get the same 15%, is there enough difference (other than personal style) between 3 good agents to justify maybe pissing one off because you want to wait until all the offers are in before making a decision?

Thank you so much for your blog, it is a delight to read. I refresh it hourly.

That's a lot of refreshment!

This isn't a hypothetical question. This happens often enough to be what passes for normal around here. Well, the fish raining from the sky part, not so much, but frequently I'm reading something several other agents are too.

If you get an offer, you aren't going to accept right away anyway. You're going to have a talk with the prospective agent and make sure you're a good fit. There's no way to know that from just looking at a listing in Writers Market. You're going to talk/email to several of his/her clients too.

When you get an offer, you email the other agents reading the work. You say "I've gotten an offer and I'm in discussion with that agent. If my work is of interest to you I'd like to wait to make a decision with this other agent, but I do need to get back to him /her in a timely fashion."

We ALL get that. It's not a problem.

A cautionary note: it's not a given that if another agent is interested I will be, or that I'll stop everything and read your novel. At LEAST half the time I'll email back with a pass, knowing the author is going to get representation. So, do NOT use this as a tool to get people to read faster. That strategy can bite you in the refreshment zone.


Dave Kuzminski said...

Personally, I would give the first agent to respond with an offer of acceptance some extra points should another respond similarly before I reach a decision. Why? Because the first agent read through the material first and that could indicate additional enthusiasm. Still, talk with the agent to determine if you're a good fit as Miss Snark recommends.

Simon Haynes said...

Regarding the hourly refreshing bit - just create an RSS bookmark in Firefox. Once glance will tell you when new snarky goodness hits the 'net.

mysterygirl said...

Dear Miss Snark,

How do you define "timely fashion"? A few days? A week? And if a writer is fortunate enough to receive multiple offers, what's the best way to say "no thank you" to an agent, so that no bridges are burned?

Your Humble Snarkling

Miss Snark said...

The answers to those questions are somewhere in the archive of posts. I'm sorry I don't know exactly where but I do know I've talked about those exact questions. Dig it baby!