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WriteBrained
01-03-2012, 02:06 AM
Hello all,

From everything I've read, it seems customary when you get "the call" for an offer of representation, to give other agents one week before accepting the offer.

My question is this: what exactly do you say?

Maybe: "I'm very flattered by your offer. I'm going to let other agents who have my materials know about the offer and give them one week to respond. I will be in touch with you at that point." ......?

I know that sounds a little unnatural, but is that the gist of it?

Also, do agents ever retract their offer in that week's time? That would be horrible!!!

Any info would be appreciated. Thanks so much! :)

taylormillgirl
01-03-2012, 02:48 AM
I don't remember my exact words, (I was hella nervous), but it went something like this:

Me: "It was great talking to you!"
Agent: "You, too. I'm so excited about this project."
Me: "As a courtesy, I need to give other agents a few days to finish reading. How about if I contact you on Monday?"
Agent: "Sounds good. I'll send you a copy of the contract to review."

Not sure if I said just the right thing, but it worked and didn't feel unnatural. And for what it's worth, I've never heard of an agent retracting an offer once it's made.

ink wench
01-03-2012, 04:15 AM
Agents expect that you're going to let anyone else reading have a shot, so mention it however is natural at the end of the call. The first agent who offered on my book actually brought it up herself. She asked me if I wanted one or two weeks (because there was an upcoming holiday) to hear back from other agents.

WriteBrained
01-03-2012, 06:55 AM
taylormillgirl and ink wench,

Thanks so much!

Stacia Kane
01-03-2012, 04:28 PM
Just as an FYI/aside...

There's no law that says you have to give the other agents a week. If the offering agent is the one you absolutely want, just accept the offer and tell the other agents you've accepted representation. No point wasting their time by having them read it, if you've already made up your mind.

I'm not saying you shouldn't give the others a shot, at all; if you think one of them may be a better fit for you or just want to be sure, go for it. I'm just saying that if you're sure the offering agent is The One, you don't have to make him or her wait just because it's "customary" to let the others have a chance to offer, too.

:)

Corinne Duyvis
01-03-2012, 06:28 PM
I'm ditto-ing Stacia, with a provision--you will probably irritate some agents if you do this. There have been several discussions among agents on Twitter, where they were very annoyed when they heard that an author had accepted another offer without giving them a chance to take a look as well. Their reasons were twofold: 1) They might've already started reading the MS, and thus wasted their time; 2) Why query them if you weren't interested in them as an agent?

I'm with Stacia in that, yes, sometimes you have strong preferences, and if you already know who you want to go with, you'd be wasting even more of the other agents' time if you did give them a chance to finish reading and potentially make an offer.

Of course, I've also heard from a friend who *thought* she knew who her first choice was, but that shifted when she talked to other offering agents.

So, you can go either way. Just take the above into account :)

WriteBrained
01-04-2012, 01:36 AM
Thanks for the advice, Stacia and Corinne! :)

Hmm... there's a lot to consider here. From what I've seen, I think when the call comes I will indeed give others a week -- just to be on the safe side, at least. I've been known to burn bridges before, so maybe doing this would be the best bet.

Does anyone else have any experience with this?

Jamiekswriter
01-04-2012, 02:46 AM
Hi Writebrained,

My agent wouldn't let me accept until I sent out notices to the other agents who had my fulls and gave them a chance to offer. She wanted me to make sure I felt I was chosing the best agent for my work. I think a lot of agents are like that. They expect you to take a week or so to consider their offer and contact the other interested parties. Like ink wench said, it'll probably come up naturally at the end of the conversation. Good luck! :D -- Jamie

taylormillgirl
01-04-2012, 04:30 AM
There have been several discussions among agents on Twitter, where they were very annoyed when they heard that an author had accepted another offer without giving them a chance to take a look as well.

Good point. My crit partner received a serious nasty-gram from one agent when she did this.

Astronomer
01-04-2012, 06:16 PM
I find this perplexing. Agents know authors query multiple agents simultaneously. And they must also know that most authors prioritize their agent lists. If an author's dream agent makes an offer, I, as a competing agent (disclaimer: I'm not an agent -- this is all hypothetical), would expect the author to accept immediately and send me a polite update.

That the author initiates the contact doesn't entitle me as an agent to the right of first refusal. If the author finds an agent who's a better fit, then the author is entitled to choose, I think, precluding my right as an agent either to a bidding war or to have the opportunity to turn down the author on the basis of merit.

WriteBrained
01-04-2012, 07:31 PM
I find this perplexing. Agents know authors query multiple agents simultaneously. And they must also know that most authors prioritize their agent lists. If an author's dream agent makes an offer, I, as a competing agent (disclaimer: I'm not an agent -- this is all hypothetical), would expect the author to accept immediately and send me a polite update.

That the author initiates the contact doesn't entitle me as an agent to the right of first refusal. If the author finds an agent who's a better fit, then the author is entitled to choose, I think, precluding my right as an agent either to a bidding war or to have the opportunity to turn down the author on the basis of merit.

I, too, fail to see the logic in some of this. Seems a little silly. But perhaps it's just one of those professional courtesy things. I believe I will do it, if for nothing more than simply not breaking with the customs of the industry as soon as I get my foot in the door.

After all this waiting, what's one more week? :)

Corinne Duyvis
01-04-2012, 07:51 PM
After all this waiting, what's one more week? :)

Beyond grueling. Trust me. :D

WriteBrained
01-04-2012, 08:02 PM
Beyond grueling. Trust me. :D

You're not helping! ;)

Corinne Duyvis
01-04-2012, 11:16 PM
You're not helping! ;)

You're welcome :D

But, yeah, you're probably smart to check with the other agents to be sure. Just don't ask for more than a week; I made that mistake and regretted it swiftly.

WriteBrained
01-05-2012, 12:05 AM
You're welcome :D

But, yeah, you're probably smart to check with the other agents to be sure. Just don't ask for more than a week; I made that mistake and regretted it swiftly.

Believe me -- a week is long enough for me!

sprunty
01-17-2012, 07:33 PM
I find this perplexing. Agents know authors query multiple agents simultaneously. And they must also know that most authors prioritize their agent lists. If an author's dream agent makes an offer, I, as a competing agent (disclaimer: I'm not an agent -- this is all hypothetical), would expect the author to accept immediately and send me a polite update.

After talking to other agents, you might realize the one you thought was the "dream agent" wasn't the best fit after all.

Jennifer_Laughran
01-18-2012, 10:20 AM
I, too, fail to see the logic in some of this. Seems a little silly. But perhaps it's just one of those professional courtesy things. I believe I will do it, if for nothing more than simply not breaking with the customs of the industry as soon as I get my foot in the door.


Look if you want to accept the first person who asks you, go for it. Other agents might be mildly irritated, but you aren't going to MORTALLY OFFEND anyone or "break the customs of the industry" -- the might even be QUITE irritated, if they'd already spent hours or days reading... but ultimately it doesn't really matter. It won't stop your being published or anything. The only person you'll be possibly *actually* hurting is yourself.

Here's an analogy.

You go to a dance. It's a big room - kinda dark. Lots of people dancing, you don't really know anybody, so you're hanging out by the punchbowl. I mean, you came, you look your best, you're putting yourself out there -- but these are all strangers, so, there's only so much you can do.

Somebody comes up and asks you to dance.

They are cute, and have a letterman jacket on, so you say OK... and then you leave together and MARRY THEM.

Well... huh. That's one way to do it. But you didn't even get a chance to look around the room! Aren't you EVEN CURIOUS about what all those other people might have had to offer you? If you might end up liking one of them more? If they might have been a better dancer, or been less handsy, or looked less squinty in the picture, or had a better corsage for you?

Maybe the person you thought was your first choice is not that awesome actually.... or maybe they are. I don't know. Personally I'd want to try to dance with a few people just to make sure I was choosing wisely. Or at least see more of the room than the refreshment table.

Perks
01-18-2012, 05:29 PM
That the author initiates the contact doesn't entitle me as an agent to the right of first refusal. If the author finds an agent who's a better fit, then the author is entitled to choose, I think, precluding my right as an agent either to a bidding war or to have the opportunity to turn down the author on the basis of merit.It's not a bidding war. Agency terms and conditions are pretty similar across the board.

Presumably, you won't have queried an agent you're not interested in working with. If an offer is made, it's not impossible that one or more of the other agents in the current round of letters would also be inspired to offer representation.

The upside for the writer is that he will get to speak with all players and if you don't think that one-on-one contact and the resultant discussion of your work and career can redefine who you consider your "dream agent" then you haven't talked to me. Firsthand, once-bitten, at your service.

bearilou
01-18-2012, 06:17 PM
*chimes in with a question that shows utter ignorance of the query process*

Is it usually standard for agents who have been informed by a writer that they've received interest in representation from another agent to respond with a yay or nay? I ask because in this environment of 'no response means no', I wonder at that point if there's another reasonable time period you're supposed to wait before it's apparent that 'no response still means no'?

Perks
01-18-2012, 06:22 PM
Oh yes. I'd be surprised in that instance if most agents didn't send something back. I mean, I guess it could happen. But with all the excitement, communicating with a couple to a handful of literary agents will probably make you forget all about any that might not get around to saying one way or the other.

Corinne Duyvis
01-18-2012, 06:25 PM
Is it usually standard for agents who have been informed by a writer that they've received interest in representation from another agent to respond with a yay or nay? I ask because in this environment of 'no response means no', I wonder at that point if there's another reasonable time period you're supposed to wait before it's apparent that 'no response still means no'?

I think it's standard for agents to let authors know in that case, whether they normally respond or not.

However, when informing agents of an offer, you should always give a deadline of one week (maybe two, depending on circumstances, but never more than that), anyway. If they don't respond in half the time you've given them, I'd send a nudge. After that, you've done all you can, and I'd just give up and stick to the deadline you gave them.

(Definitely send that nudge, BTW--when I informed agents of my offer there were at least two who never got that initial e-mail.)

Cyia
01-18-2012, 06:57 PM
I had most of the agents reading mine reply after I informed them of an offer, but a few still stuck to the "no means no" policy. Regardless, after the week was up, I sent them all a notice of acceptance/non-acceptance. Don't forget to tell those you know are reading that you've accepted an offer once you do; that way, they're not wasting their time reading something already represented by someone else.

Terie
01-18-2012, 07:08 PM
*chimes in with a question that shows utter ignorance of the query process*

Is it usually standard for agents who have been informed by a writer that they've received interest in representation from another agent to respond with a yay or nay?

For further clarification, it's standard practice/advice to notify only the agents who have requested partials and fulls that you have received an offer. You don't notify every agent you've queried and haven't heard back from.

Cyia
01-18-2012, 07:16 PM
For further clarification, it's standard practice/advice to notify only the agents who have requested partials and fulls that you have received an offer. You don't notify every agent you've queried and haven't heard back from.


True, but if you get an offer fairly quickly, and it's likely that your query is still in the queue waiting to be read, notifying those you haven't yet heard from can spur them into moving it up the line. There are also agents who appreciate being informed, even without having requested pages yet, as they don't want to get excited about something, request pages and THEN hear "oh, I accepted representation two weeks ago..."

bearilou
01-18-2012, 07:34 PM
For further clarification, it's standard practice/advice to notify only the agents who have requested partials and fulls that you have received an offer. You don't notify every agent you've queried and haven't heard back from.

I figured I was getting confused on how far along in the process this was happening. Thanks for the clarification.


True, but if you get an offer fairly quickly, and it's likely that your query is still in the queue waiting to be read, notifying those you haven't yet heard from can spur them into moving it up the line. There are also agents who appreciate being informed, even without having requested pages yet, as they don't want to get excited about something, request pages and THEN hear "oh, I accepted representation two weeks ago..."

Very true, as well.

Filigree
01-18-2012, 10:03 PM
I've had very big-name agents say (at conventions and workshops) that if they haven't managed to read a writer's full or partial yet, a one-week deadline isn't going to help. They'll thank the writer for notifying them of the offer, and automatically pass most of the time.

Not to say that politeness doesn't matter. But it might not spur a bidding war.

Jennifer_Laughran
01-19-2012, 06:45 AM
I've had very big-name agents say (at conventions and workshops) that if they haven't managed to read a writer's full or partial yet, a one-week deadline isn't going to help. They'll thank the writer for notifying them of the offer, and automatically pass most of the time.

Not to say that politeness doesn't matter. But it might not spur a bidding war.

What it will make me do is, LOOK AT IT. I mean, most of the time I haven't even gotten to take a peek at it yet, it's still in the queue. And I'll be able to tell pretty darn quick if it is something I am acutally going to be interested in following up on - most of the time, not, so I'll just pass and good wishes to them. But who knows, maybe it really is exactly what I'm looking for! In that case I will read as quickly as possible, and certainly within a week.

Filigree
01-19-2012, 09:35 AM
That's good to hear, Jennifer.

johanniter
01-25-2012, 05:05 PM
All of this actually brings me to ask: if an agent wants to offer representation, does he/she make that offer via email (assuming email has been the medium of all querying, submissions, etc.)? Or do agents actually pick up the phone for that one?

Unfortunately, I have no personal experience to answer this question.

Filigree
01-25-2012, 07:43 PM
Many agents prefer to call. They want to get an honest feel for the writer's personality, goals, and passion. Since this is a dual job interview, it's best that both parties know what they're getting into - something that may not be so apparent from emails.

johanniter
01-25-2012, 10:24 PM
Many agents prefer to call. They want to get an honest feel for the writer's personality, goals, and passion. Since this is a dual job interview, it's best that both parties know what they're getting into - something that may not be so apparent from emails.

Probably a good reason to have a professional message on one's answering machine/voicemail... :)