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the perfect geese
10-23-2009, 05:40 PM
I have a contract offer from a small(ish) publisher. It's a sure thing. I get all I've hoped for: the novel gets copy-edited, cover designed, etc. etc. then published to a respectably-sized readership. The problem? My agent has larger aspirations for the book. He really believes in it, is very passionate. And he's very reputable, from a marquee agency. He wants to submit to the major pub. houses.

The offer from the small publisher is not being held out indefinitely. I basically need to decide (soon): the sure thing (albeit smaller readership) vs. the gamble for the "bigger and brighter."

I don't want to be an ornery old man on a rocking chair in 20 years, grumbling about the one that got away as my fingers caress the molded and yellowed pages of my unpublished manuscript. But on the other hand, neither do I want to undersell myself.

Your thoughts?

C.M.C.
10-23-2009, 05:59 PM
Ask yourself what your goal is. If you're comfortable with the reality of the smaller publisher, I would take the sure thing. If you want to see how far you can go, by all means let the agent do what he thinks he can. It's a classic betters dilemma, safe versus risky. How much do you like to gamble?

Jamesaritchie
10-23-2009, 06:08 PM
I think trusting your agent is nearly always a good thing, but it's your novel, and your potential career.

the addster
10-23-2009, 06:13 PM
Yep, this is question of your risk adversity. I'd be tempted to take the gamble myself, but I'm pretty good with forgiving myself for screwing up.

You might want to look at it this way..

If someone gave you a big pile of money today, what would you do? Put it in a guaranteed type investment such as a CD with low return, or play the commodities market with the potential to make or lose oodles?

If you would buy the CD, go with the small publisher. If you would buy pork belly futures, hang with the agent.

CaroGirl
10-23-2009, 06:13 PM
I wonder how your novel got into the hands of a small publisher you're not ready to go with. IMO, you should always work from the top down. If you always intended to try large publishers first, you should have sent the novel to them before you sent it to a small fish.

However, that said, if your publisher thinks you can do better, I suppose you should listen and reject the offer. I hope the big guys like it as much as the little guy did.

Julie Worth
10-23-2009, 06:41 PM
I presume you got the agent on the basis of this offer. If so, I'd do what the agent suggests. Otherwise, why are you paying him 15%?

Claudia Gray
10-23-2009, 08:02 PM
I think this boils down to how much you trust your agent and how strongly your agent feels about this. (Did you send the manuscript to the publisher before you were agented?) Sometimes, depending on the circumstances, your agent will want you to go after those two birds in the bush and let the bird in the hand go. This is a tough call, but your agent may feel strongly that you have a promising career ahead, but that it will be harder to launch you in future if you begin with the more modest advances/sales usually involved in small-press publishing.

veinglory
10-23-2009, 08:31 PM
Also, how small is small? Would it make you happy to publish with this press or would the 'what ifs' ruin your enjoyment?

Red-Green
10-23-2009, 08:41 PM
I went through something like this. Right before I got an agent, I got an offer from a small publisher. A bigger advance than most small pubs offer and a decent marketing budget, too. I was waffling, trying to decide whether to take it. The question I finally asked myself was, "Do I think I can do better?" I decided yes. So I turned down the offer, got the agent, and now...I try not to repent at leisure as I wait for my book to sell to a bigger publisher. So, in my mind, that's the question: Do you think you can do better? Your agent obviously does.

BigWords
10-23-2009, 08:56 PM
Do you gamble? How much money are you willing to throw onto the table at 1am, hoping that the guy across the table is bluffing? Are you comfortable taking risks? Can you fold a hand that you know is a sure-fire winner and not feel like you missed an opportunity to clean out your opponent?

This is a gambling question, not a writing question. Me? I would take the gamble, and hope that the agent has been successful in finding a bigger publisher.

That said, I have lost obscene amounts of money playing cards...

AdamH
10-23-2009, 11:02 PM
Sign small or go big with an agent?

I asked this exact question to a panel of publishers...well, not exactly...what I had asked was "If my book was successful, you I get the same amount of media attention as I would with a bigger publisher or would I be limited to a smaller audience?"...but my thought was the same as your question.

The concensus: If a small publisher got a successful book, they'd market the heck out of it as much as a big publisher. They're in it to make money too. It's still a business after all. The bigger publisher is already set up to do that and in some cases have perfected the art of promotion and networking (which is why they're successful) but it's more difficult to get accepted to them. Smaller publishers are capable of doing it but only will take the time if the returns are greater than the investment.

Now, so your agent sees potential in your work and thinks they can get it a bigger deal. But of course they should be thinking this! They should be always be striving for the best possible outcome from a monetary standpoint. The bigger the contract the larger the pay for them. Not that this is their sole purpose to finding a big contract but it is a driving point. It means more food on the table at the end of the day...but your agent can't guarantee a bigger deal.

For me, if I've committed and signed the contract with the small publisher, I'd go with the small publisher. It's a professional thing for me even if it means I've lost out on some cash.

Coincidentally, I read an article today about people who won the largest lottery jackpots in history and how most of them take the lump sum up front instead of it being paid over 20 years even if it means losing half of your total winnings. The moral: money in hand is guaranteed even if it's less. Are you prepared to potentially wait 20 years (or whatever period of time) to get a larger amount...if it happens at all?

Food for thought.

Karen Junker
10-24-2009, 12:29 AM
Wow, this is really strange. Last month you posted that you'd gotten an offer from a large publisher. Did that fall through?

ChaosTitan
10-24-2009, 02:56 AM
the_perfect_geese - As Karen pointed out, you did post something quite different a month ago. You also never returned to reply to the questions asked or respond to any of the advice given in that other thread. http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=155273

Perhaps you could do us the courtesy of responding to this thread?

the perfect geese
10-24-2009, 04:13 AM
chaos titan and karen junker,

Didn't mean to mislead you. Quite a simple explanation, actually. the excitement felt by an unpublished writer when a bonafide publisher shows real interest can be so profound and acute, that an (inadvertent) aggrandizement of the size of the publisher is not unnatural, no?

but when even this reputable publisher is later measured up against some of the Publishing Establishments, it becomes diminished in size.

I'm new to AW. Under my name it says: "New Kid, Be Gentle." I was wondering why newcomers were automatically tagged with this. Now I know why. Sheesh.

stormie
10-24-2009, 04:28 AM
Since an agent sees potential in your work, I'd hold out and see what your agent can do for you. There will be other smaller publishers if the big ones don't bite.

Karen Junker
10-24-2009, 04:30 AM
Well, it's too bad the 'big' publisher isn't so big, after all! :) But it's still exciting, eh? I wish you every success with your project!

James D. Macdonald
10-24-2009, 06:02 AM
If you trust your agent, follow his advice.

If you don't trust your agent, fire him.

There isn't really a middle course.

rugcat
10-24-2009, 06:08 AM
If you trust your agent, follow his advice.

If you don't trust your agent, fire him.

There isn't really a middle course.I don't think it's always that clear cut. I had an offer between two houses. My agent laid out what she saw as the pros and cons of each offer -- format offered, money offered, editorial staff, reputation for dealing with debut authors.

But she wouldn't come down definitively on one side or the other -- she left it up to me.

James D. Macdonald
10-24-2009, 06:25 AM
I don't think it's always that clear cut. I had an offer between two houses. My agent laid out what she saw as the pros and cons of each offer -- format offered, money offered, editorial staff, reputation for dealing with debut authors.

But she wouldn't come down definitively on one side or the other -- she left it up to me.


That is clear cut, and that's the agent doing his/her job. If there's a choice, you make it. You're the one who's going to sign the contract, and it's your career. The agent advises.

If the agent says to you, "I recommend you go with Publisher A," and you go with Publisher B instead, then it's really time for you to rethink your relationship with your agent.

rugcat
10-24-2009, 06:41 AM
I think I misunderstood what you meant. We're not in disagreement.

blacbird
10-24-2009, 07:22 AM
I have a similar problem: Accept the rejection from the small publisher, or accept the numerous rejections from agents. Advice?

caw

nitaworm
10-24-2009, 09:18 AM
Before you make the decision, detail all that the smaller publisher has done for its authors. What you know it will do for you, and what you want for your work. You must decide what's more important for you, and if the current offer is worth passing over to go for what you really desire.

WmHopper
10-24-2009, 10:10 AM
Ok, this is freaky. I haven't been around for a bit, and I was sitting here worried about stuff so I figured I'd check the boards. Low and behold I find this thread: "sign with small publisher or trust agent to sell to large publisher (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=4183308#post4183308)"

The thing I was worrying about: Do I sign with a smaller press, or wait on my agent?

I'm now gonna sit back and read all the advice given here.

Old Hack
10-24-2009, 11:21 AM
I'd think very carefully.

I'd probably listen to my agent, on the understanding the book might not sell to a big publisher. If that happens, I could then query more of the smaller ones.

If the original poster wants to go ahead with the smaller publisher then he has to be certain about that publisher's ability to sell and market his book. Most importantly, he has to establish that its books have a solid bookshop presence and no, this doesn't mean that the books are "available from" the bookshops, but that they have good distribution and a real sales team getting the books onto bookshop shelves.

If the smaller publisher DOES have that distribution in place AND checks out favourably in Bewares and Background Checks, and at Preditors and Editors, then it might be worth looking at so long as the OP isn't then going to pine for the Big Chance Which Passed Him By.

ChaosTitan
10-24-2009, 06:32 PM
I'm new to AW. Under my name it says: "New Kid, Be Gentle." I was wondering why newcomers were automatically tagged with this. Now I know why. Sheesh.


I apologize if my post seemed harsh. One of the huge benefits of AW is the ability to hold a conversation with other writers in the threads we start. It shows respect for the people who take the time to respond to our questions. :)

To your original question, though, I don't have anything to add to what Uncle Jim said.

Gillhoughly
10-24-2009, 08:42 PM
It's hard to find a good agent who is that passionate about one's writing. The previous one I had--well, I was just another brick in his wall.

My "new" one (12 years now!) is still passionate about my words, and she's made us both a good chunk of change. She is constantly promoting my stuff here and abroad and looking for new jobs for me. The other guy kept turning jobs down or passing them on to other writers.

You've lucked out with one who thinks your work has the potential to make a much larger sale.

In publishing you start submitting at the TOP with the biggest house you can find and work your way down.

If that small press wants your book, so will a larger one.

Go for the big dog, every single time. The bigger the better.

Let the agent do his job and YOU be writing the next book.