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WannabeWriter
07-16-2005, 10:27 PM
Here's something I'm wondering. What if you ask several agents to represent you, and more than one actually says yes at the same time? Do you simply ignore one of them, or do you actually tell one of them that you found someone already?

azbikergirl
07-16-2005, 11:34 PM
At the same time? You mean, I get a phone call from one and then hear the call-waiting sound and it turns out to be the other one? Or I get home from work and both have left voice messages or sent emails? I should be so lucky! Stranger things have been known to happen, I guess. I'd go with whoever contacts me first or whichever was my favorite. Then I'd send a polite email or phone call to the other and let him/her know I've found representation. I would never ever simply ignore an agent or editor who wanted to represent me. Oh no no no no!

WannabeWriter
07-17-2005, 12:26 AM
Good idea. I'll keep that in mind. Thanks. :)

Cathy C
07-17-2005, 02:08 AM
I agree with azbikergirl. This is your first clue that you've got a hot property and it's time to decide which of the agents is most likely to help your career.

Interview each of them before making a choice. Ask them questions about their prior sales IN YOUR GENRE. Ask which publishers they are thinking about approaching and why. Are you a person who wants to have your hand held during the selling process? Do you want to receive back a call every few days with the progress? Some agents are willing to do this, and others aren't.

In other words, you've stepped beyond GETTING an agent, to getting the RIGHT AGENT for your personality. Here's a little article that I wrote up to help you figure out what sort of agent personality might fit you best:

FINDING THE RIGHT AGENT FOR YOU!

There are thousands of practicing agents in the United States, but finding the RIGHT agent is a difficult task--and I don’t just mean a qualified agent. The majority of professional agents are qualified. I mean an agent whose temperament and attitudes toward the publishing process are similar to yours. I’ve separated the majority of agents into three catagories:

The Tigers. These agents go for the throat! They’re aggressive, pro-active protectors that believe that the best defense is a good offense. A flurry of phone calls, emails and documents to the publisher marks their trail. They will make sure that every single thing that you are entitled to, goes to you, even if they have to shop your manuscript to every publisher in town. If you feel that you need an agent to hold your hand and keep you up to date on every single matter they are working on, the tiger is definitely not your best fit. They prefer to learn your ultimate goal, and then simply do their job. They will advise you of the results, not the process. You might not hear from them for weeks or months, but the job will get done and get done right. They can make a contract sit up and sing for you, but can sometimes be more than a bit brusque. They are also not likely to be the person who will validate your ego by telling you what a good writer you are. They expect you already KNOW that and don't want to hear any whimpers. You have THEM for an agent, after all. Of course you're good.

The Lynxes. These agents aren’t quite as aggressive by nature. They will defend you strongly, but will probably not argue for rights. They are more likely to try to divide the rights equitably, with as little fuss as possible. Lynxes are more willing to be your partner in the negotiation, and will ask your opinion on a situation by situation basis. They will probably occasionally tell you what a wonderful person you are, especially if finding a home for the book takes a bit of time.

The House Cats. These agents will fight if there is no other alternative, and are fully capable of a brawl, but would much rather deal with publishers who already write reasonable contracts. They are usually friends with many of the editors in town, so a great many deals simply happen without any disturbance. They will also be closer to a friend. They will be happy to spend time on the phone with you to make sure that you understand every detail of each action they take. But you might have to keep after them to make sure that your book offer doesn’t languish too long without action, since they spend the same amount of time with every other client, too. But this agent will walk you through your depressions and self-doubts. They will let you cry on their shoulder when offers aren't flooding the office and will cheer you up.

Now that you know the types of agents, let’s see which type of agent is your best fit. Take the quiz below. For convenience, we will be using the words, "he/him/his" to describe the agent, even if you are considering a female agent. Remember, there are no wrong answers. These are intended only to determine your personality type.

1. PHONE CALLS

_____ A. I expect that my agent will return my calls within 48 hours, unless I have stated that the matter is urgent, in which case I expect a call within the same business day, or the following morning.
_____ B. I expect that my agent will return my calls the same day, if I call before noon, and the following business morning if I call after lunch or over the weekend.
_____ C. I expect that my agent will call me as soon as he picks up his messages (or voice mail). I should receive a call within one hour of my call, unless he is out of the office. I should be able to reach his secretary or assistant at all times.

2. PAPERWORK

_____ A. I expect that my agent will mail copies of documents he prepares within a reasonable time after preparation. If I have questions, I expect that he or his staff will explain the document.
_____ B. I expect that my agent will provide copies of documents he prepares the same day as they are sent out. I will make sure I have a fax available for this purpose. If I have questions, I expect that I can discuss the document with him shortly after I receive it.
_____ C. I expect that my agent will send me review copies of any documents he intends to mail or send to publishers. I will make sure that I have a fax available for this purpose. I want to look at everything first to see what is being said.

3. NEGOTIATIONS FOR CONTRACTS

_____ A. I know that my agent has negotiated publisher contracts a hundred times, and I will rely on his judgment of my best expectations for a beneficial deal.
_____ B. I expect that my agent will ask me what I want to receive in the deal, and will tailor his negotiations so I get at least 80% of what I want.
_____ C. I expect that my agent will ask me what I want to receive in the deal, and will not settle until I receive 100% of what I want.

4. COMMUNICATION -PART ONE

_____ A. If I want to talk about future manuscripts, I expect that my agent will wait until he sees how the first manuscript is received before committing to represent future books.
_____ B. I expect that my agent will welcome other books of mine for representation and will be happy to discuss them as time permits.
_____ C. I expect that as soon as I come up with a new book idea, I can call my agent and tell him the entire plot and have him enthusiastic for me to write it.

5. COMMUNICATION - PART TWO

_____ A. I expect that my agent or one of his staff will contact me occasionally to keep me apprised of the status of my book, or tell me as quickly as possible if something significant is occurring.
_____ B. I expect that my agent or one of his staff will contact me on a regular basis to keep me apprised of the status of any book offers, or tell me as quickly as possible if something significant is occurring.
_____ C. I expect that my agent will contact me on a weekly basis regardless of whether he has heard from publishers.

6. POST SALE

_____ A. I expect that my agent will have little involvement with the book now that it's in the editor's hands, but will begin to sell subsidiary rights and will let me know when other sales have occurred.
_____ B. I expect that my agent or one of his staff will keep in contact with me during the publishing phase so I can learn what to expect from a publisher.
_____ C. I expect that my agent will contact my editor frequently during the publication process to make sure the publisher stays on track, time-wise and that all the timelines the publisher promised actually happen and that the agent help me with promoting the book to the public once it's published.

7. EDITING

_____ A. I expect my agent to sell my next book when it's complete, or to try to sell a contract to the new publisher based on the strength of the first manuscript.
_____ B. I expect my agent to help with editing my second and subsequent books so they shine for my new editor.
_____ C. I expect my agent to read chapters and advise me step-by-step as I write my next book to help me make sure it's fully edited before we show the publisher.

SCORING:

If you marked more than five "A" - You would work well with a Tiger or Lynx agent. A House Cat would quickly become an annoyance due to their laid-back attitude toward your manuscript.

If you marked more than five "B" - You will work best with a Lynx. You can work with a Tiger or House Cat, so long as you make your expectations known to them right up front.

If you marked more than five "C" - You will work best with a House Cat. You would quickly grow annoyed with a Tiger as being non-communicative. If you push a Tiger or a Lynx to be more responsive, you will soon feel that they are arrogant or patronizing.

If you have a mixed bag - If you had no strong choices in any direction, you can work with all of the personalities, like those who marked mostly "B". However, you will want to make sure that you communicate your desires carefully, since your agent will not be able to predict your reaction to a situation based on other decisions you have made.

Hope that helps! :)

WannabeWriter
07-17-2005, 02:31 AM
Thanks for the article, Cathy. :)