10.31.2006

An offer, but no agent

Dear Miss Snark,

A small press wants to acquire my self-published non-fiction book. I'm preparing to invite my dream agent to represent me in the deal. How should I structure my query? Do I still start with a hook, or is the fact that I've already been offered a contract the most important thing to lead with? And does the "gimme" make it much more likely that my dream agent will want to sign up, or should I still steel myself for rejection?

Thanks for your help.


First, you let go of the idea that your "dream agent" will be able to take this on. Most established, big agents need to make money and "small press" and "big money" are almost always mutually exclusive.

Look around for agents starting their careers. You're more likely to get in the door there, and a lot of them are darn good. Kate Epstein is one.

Lead with the fact you have an offer on the table. That moves you up on the urgency scale.

If you can't find an agent, you MUST have the offer reviewed by a contract review specialist or a lawyer who knows about publishing.

12 comments:

Maria said...

Definitely don't count on the dream agent. Happened to a friend of mine--dream agent passed and she wasted almost 3 months where she could have been querying several agents to get a quicker review of the contract, etc.

S. W. Vaughn said...

Listen to Miss Snark, especially on the contract review issue. Don't balk if you have to pay a lawyer who specializes in publishing issues. Get your contract reviewed, even if you don't have an agent!

Don't be stoopid like me and learn the hard way...

~Nancy said...

Definitely get a lawyer who specializes in publishing contracts. Pub contracts are waaaay different than the typical, generic contract.

Good luck!

~JerseyGirl

BradyDale said...

Kate Epstein = "no fiction of any kind"
See "Areas of interest"

queen serene said...

Thanks, Miss Snark, and thanks to those who have commented. I'm grateful for your wise advice.

Anonymous said...

bradydale: "my self-published non-fiction book."

See post.

Anonymous said...

I recently met Kate Epstein at a writers' conference. She is wonderful and, if you interest her, she will quickly become your dream agent. Very well respected by the big house NYC editors at the conference, too.

Kate is definitely on her way. Very smart, very professional.

queen serene said...

Ooh...good to know. Thank you for sharing your experience! I've been reading her webpages and she sounds like one sharp agent.

Talia Mana, Centre for Emotional Well-Being said...

Thanks for the link to Kate Epstein. As a non-fiction writer I'm excited to see an agent specialising in that area. The only downfall is the whole platform thingee (I live outside the U.S.)

I'll bookmark her ...

Termagant 2 said...

Yes, definitely have your small-press contract reviewed. Particularly if there are clauses which say things like "no money 'til you reach a certain sales number" or "release in X days from contract" or any number of items that will have you kicking yourself a year later.

T2, been there

Kiskadee said...

Miss Snark is right. I was looking for "my dream agent" among the power agents - Donald Maass and co. I had several nibbles but in the end they swam away.
Finally, I landed a junior agent at a major agency, one who is just starting her career. Her work with me is stellar. I can't believe how wonderful my novel is becoming in her editorial care - it's as if she knows what it's supposed to be better than I do. I'm getting loads of personal attention, while she has all the clout of a big agency behind her. I know when the submission process starts she will be 100% behind the book.
She is now my dream agent.

queen serene said...

I just signed an author agreement with Kate Epstein.

Thanks again to all who commented.

And bless you, bless you, Miss Snark!