Let me think about it

Dear Miss Snark,

When an agent asks for an exclusive on a full manuscript, do they believe they have the right to expect a "yes" if they offer representation to the author? Might they withdraw their offer if the author asks them to wait a month or two for a decision (because he's since had requests from other - preferred - agents, and wants to send them the full now the exclusive has expired, and wants to see if they make an offer)?

If you think you can shop around and do better, have at it. I might be here when you get back, but I probably won't. If I know my colleauges are saying no to you, I'm MUCH less likely to think I should say yes. And if you aren't all that eager to work with me, well, ok, there are 100 people lined up this week alone who think I'll be just dandy.

I expect people who have sent me full manuscripts are willing to sign with me. Absent any startling revelations ("oh my dog, he's really Miss Snark" or "oh dear dog, you aren't going to call me every day and review every detail of what you've done for me?") you should know you're willing to sign BEFORE I invest time reading your work.

Agents love auctions and bidding wars but only for projects they represent.


Anonymous said...

"I expect people who have sent me full manuscripts are willing to sign with me."

Isn't this a de facto exclusive?

If an author sends you a full manuscript, and you offer representation, how can you be upset if he wants to wait to see the results of all the other (possible) manuscripts he has out there?

This is a bit confusing.

Kimber Li said...

Love ya, Miss Snark, but now I am more confused than ever. This question is similar to one I've asked, but...oh, dear...must go digging through more archives, I guess.

Anonymous said...

So an author is expected to just say "yes" to whichever agent happens to make an offer first.


Exclusives are a really bad idea for authors, because unfortunately this is exactly the position they find themselves in - they feel obliged to say "yes" to the agent who had the exclusive.

Every author who's done his/her research has a list of preferred agents, and ranks them. If several agents make offers, or are likely to make offers, agents should understand that authors will want to weigh up their options before making a decision.

Anonymous said...

I've been thinking about this a bit more. Miss Snark says that an author shouldn't send a full to an agent they wouldn't want to sign with. Well, maybe an agent shouldn't offer representation to an author they don't want to represent. If the agent really wants the author, they should be prepared to wait. Yes, there may be 100 other authors who want that agent's representation... but are there 100 other authors that agent wants to represent? Unlikely.

Anonymous said...

Come on, guys, how hard can it be to stall?

Why not say you'd like to contact some of the agent's other clients, then stretch that out? Or just say you're in the middle of changing jobs & you need a week to straighten your head out. Or...something. Anything.

This whole topic seems to be a search for a perfect world where everybody is perfectly considerate & understanding, with no time pressure...it all seems most unlikely.

At the point an agent offers representation, that agent is (sorry, Miss Snark) your opposition in a negotiation. Afterwards, you may be best buds, but until an agreement is finalized it's your job to protect your own interests.

Afterwards, it may be too late.

Anonymous said...

So an author is expected to just say "yes" to whichever agent happens to make an offer first.

She didn't say that.

An author can do whatever they want with an offer of representation.

The author can say yes to being represented, they can say no, they can say "wait" (and probably tick off the agent a little). They can even say, "send me your contract so I can consider the offer seriously", and hope another offer comes in before an unreasonable amount of time has passed.

The author can even ask the agent for contact information for a few of their clients to determine if the clients are happy with that agent, and stall for more time that way.

C'mon, people. You are not passive little daisies with your career. When an agent makes you an offer, that does not mean that they've bought you dinner and you're now expected to put out. If an agent has an "expectation" that an author will say yes to an offer of representation, then too damned bad for the agent if they're subsequently disappointed. Nothing is set in stone until there's a signature on the contract.

Anonymous said...

A related issue: I have fulls with several agents, a few of whom requested that I give them a chance to respond before accepting another offer of representation. If I do get an offer, how would I politely tell that agent that I need to talk to the others first, without sounding as if I don't want their representation? Any tips on appropriate phrasing?

Anonymous said...

Snarkling responses are right on the money.

Miss Snark, do you really believe we target agents based on a desire to work with that person above all else?

Or is it possible, we unagented writers are casting our nets (as you have advised us to do) to any legitimate agent who represents (and hopefully has sold) what we write?

If we are then asked for a partial or full, we first jump for joy, then jump through the hoops agents hold out for us.

I know Miss Snark is anti-exclusive and yippee for that. This post is a good illustration for why agents should NOT ask for an exclusive.

Although Miss Snark is, of course, our dream agent, others, just because they demand an exclusive, aren't necessarily in her league (the dream league that is.)

To hold this over our hopfeul, writerly heads and demand we sign with an agent just because he/she has demanded an exclusive is just plain disgusting and beyond unfair to writers.

Anonymous said...

I queried six agents I would like to work with on the same day. Two of them asked me for full manuscripts on the same day. The same two asked me for my book proposal within a week of each other. They offered me representation within a week of one another.

I don't have an overlarge estimation of how important I am to either of these agencies {neither of them will cry into their beer should I choose the other} but honestly, since I have complied with everything they asked for, then I ought to be allowed to take some time to consider the varying merits of two agencies with whom I was willing to sign from the start.

And yes, I did stall in order to give Agency #2 a chance to respond. But now I want to hold both up to the light and figure out which of two good agencies is a better match for me, because in the end that benefits all three of us.

Anonymous said...

If I do get an offer, how would I politely tell that agent that I need to talk to the others first, without sounding as if I don't want their representation? Any tips on appropriate phrasing?

"That's very exciting. Let me think about it and get back to you."

Anonymous said...

Anyone remember Rachel Vater's excitement a few weeks ago, when she found a ms she loved? And how she was on tenterhooks when the author asked for time because she had submitted to several other agents, and wanted to contact them first? And how she (agent) was biting her fingernails in case the author chose someone else? And remember how we were all rooting for her, and hoping the author would choose her, and how we cheered when she did?
I think when that rare thing happens - a truly wonderful manuscript - then the reins are in the author's hands. We really don't know much about the agents we research on the net and once the ms finds approval with more than one it's a good thing to talk to each one to find who is really the best fit. If I were in that enviable position, the agent's enthusiasm and utter *need* for the project would weigh a great deal. I would be least likely to go with the agent who didn't seem to care, or who *expected* me to pick him/her - even if it were Miss Snark.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me: Who are you, and what have you done with Miss Snark?

Miss Snark says, "Exclusives suck."

Whoever wrote this post is saying that merely sending a full MS constitutes an exclusive. WTF?

Whoever you are, step away from the keyboard -- slowly -- and keep your hands where we can see them.

Where's KY? Sic 'em, boy!!

Anonymous said...

from anonymous #2 to Rachel Vater/anonymous: well said

Anonymous said...

And you couldn't reply with something like: "Gosh, I never expected such a high level of interest in my manuscript....I've gotten so many replies...but I really liked you best...I never expected that multiple agents would...please give me some breathing space...I'm overcome...I need to deal with everyone...but you're special...hold my hand..."

C'mon. You're supposed to be a creative writer. Surely you know how to romance an agent....!

-Just Me

Anonymous said...

If you want to stay a virgin, 'no' is a big deal in your vocabulary.