I'm confused, Miss Snark. You said ' those who tell you they have an offer ... I almost always pass. I do this particularly if I haven't gotten around to reading the novel.'
Do you mean you pass when a writer you're considering has an offer from another agent ... not an offer of an actual sale? I can understand an agent thinking, "Well, she's got a solid offer for representation, and I'm feeling iffy on her work, plus I'm busier than a one-legged man in a butt-kickin' contest."
But how would you react to an author who e-mails, "Have offer to buy -- need agent to work out the details!" ... especially if the MS in question is one you are currently reviewing?
Excellent point. I meant to convey that if an author writes to say s/he has an offer from another agent, I generally respond quickly and it's almost always a pass (with best wishes for a huge success) particularly if I haven't read the novel yet.
An offer to be published is, as Dr. Doolittle said (uh, I mean the gatekeeper in the Emerald City of course), a horse of a different color. THEN you've got my attention. That's not an automatic pass at all.
Thanks for helping me clarify.