PDA

View Full Version : A Question Regarding an Agent's Offer



Valona
01-18-2006, 12:11 AM
Yesterday, I got an email from an agent who asked to see my book on an exclusive basis. It's kind of wierd the way she worded her note, however. She said:
I'd be happy to take a look at The Bridge Beckons, but will do so only on an exclusive basis. If you are in agreement, I suggest that we start by having you send an attachment of the first 50 pages in .doc or .rtf which I will read pronto. If I get pulled into the book, we can proceed to having you send the full manuscript via snail mail, along with return postage, at which point I would be back to you with an answer within 6 weeks of receiving your package.

My question is, does she want an exclusive look at my first 50 pages, or is she just talking about my manuscript in general. I've already sent my first 50 pages out to several other agents on a non-exclusinve basis as usual parts of query packages. What should I tell this lady?

Also, since I just sent out 15 to 20 queries in the past week, and this is only the first positive responce, should I wait a bit to see if any other agents respond before replying to this agent?

Thanks for any advice.
Valona

clara bow
01-18-2006, 12:29 AM
First, congratulations for getting her attention! You're right, her email sounds kind of vague. I would consider emailing her back to clarify, and let her know others have the partial.

I would also pin her down on her definition of "pronto". Does she mean two days? A week?

good luck!

oops, forgot about your second question. Ultimately the decision is yours depending on the research you did on the agents you queried. Personally, this brings to my mind "a bird in the hand equals, oh poop, what is it, two in the bush?":tongue If I were you, I'd be granting this agent the exclusive. But I've never been published. Also, think about what message you send if you put her on the back burner. She might even begin to wonder about your intentions, dunno. Just reflect on the pros and cons of both scenarios.

Valona
01-18-2006, 04:47 AM
Thanks Clara. I think you're right. I just wish I had more choices, but at this point in my career, I guess I can't afford to be choosy.

dantem42
01-18-2006, 07:24 AM
To me it sounds like what she's saying is that you are granting her an "option" for exclusive read on the whole manuscript. If you send her the fifty under exclusive, then it's also understood that if she says yes, she has the manuscript under exclusive. Otherwise, there's no point on her side to getting the exclusive on the fifty. So, it should be your understanding that if she reads the fifty and says she wants the manuscript, it's also exclusive.

A lot depends upon where this agent is on your "dream sheet." If you're talking about a recognized, powerhouse agent, then it makes sense to take her up on it. And Clara's point is well taken. To me, "pronto" sounds like a week or so, so you're not losing much in the event she turns you down on the first fifty and you get other requests for manuscript. And take a few hours and go over and over your first fifty pages before sending it.

If she wants the entire manuscript after reviewing the fifty, and you're okay with it, mention the exclusivity expiration date in the cover letter so there's no misunderstanding (should be say six weeks after her estimated receipt date of the ms). If she uses the entire time, send her a friendly reminder email about a week before the expiration, and also send out some more query letters about the same time so you have some irons in the fire in the event she says no.

Valona
01-19-2006, 02:05 AM
Thanks dantem42. Some good comments and suggestions.

I wrote back to her, attaching my first 50 pages, that I'd already sent the first 50 pages to other agents, but would not make any committments to them until I heard back from her. I also told her, if she wants to see my entire mansucript, I would give her a 6-week exclusive.

In the meantime, I intend to keep sending out queries. If I get another agent who is interested, I'll merely tell him/her that my book is under consideration by another agent at the moment, and I will get back to him/her when the first agent responds.

I think that's fair. I can't let grass grow under my feet.

clara bow
01-19-2006, 04:14 AM
sounds like a plan.

UrsusMinor
01-20-2006, 11:56 AM
In both cases, I did just about what you did--sent the pages, but told her that others were already reading. In neither case did the agent have problems with this; in fact, I got the distinct impression that this happened all the time.

I think that some agents routinely try this--why not lower the pressure/competition if you happen to be the first off the dime?

I don't know what I would have done if I didn't have partials or manuscripts out already; probably pondered the length of the exclusive and how hot I thought the agent was.

Valona
01-20-2006, 08:53 PM
Well, here's her response to what I felt was a pretty generous and fair offer.


No Paul, it's not the signing with someone else, it's the actual reading. After 32 years as an agent, I don't read in competition. So good luck with the other agents currently also looking at The Bridge Beckons. If they fall through, feel free to contact me again with your attachment.
all best,

Now, I ask you is that egotistical, condescending, and what I would call just plain snotty, or what?

There's no way I would want to work with this lady any way. Good riddance, I say. There's got to be more than one fish in the ocean.

Cathy C
01-21-2006, 03:31 AM
No, actually it doesn't really sound snotty to me. It sounds honest. It's very possible she doesn't offer to read that many partial or full manuscripts anymore. If she's been in the business for 32 years, she probably has a pretty long list of clients and doesn't bring new ones on very often. I know my agent is this same way.

I would have done the exact same thing as you did in this situation, FWIW. It was a reasonable offer. On the plus side, she did leave an open door in case you want to try again later. Shrug off any insult. Really. None was meant, as far as I read.

Good luck! :)

Valona
01-21-2006, 04:19 AM
Cathy,

I'm not sure what FWIW means.

I didn't take it as an insult, just an attitude I would have difficulty working with. I left the door open with her and she wished me good luck.

I just got another interested agent. I need to send her my first 3 chaps, a bio, and one page synopsis. I'll let you know how it goes.

It seems by query letter is finally doing its job.

dantem42
01-21-2006, 06:56 AM
Well, here's her response to what I felt was a pretty generous and fair offer.

Now, I ask you is that egotistical, condescending, and what I would call just plain snotty, or what?

There's no way I would want to work with this lady any way. Good riddance, I say. There's got to be more than one fish in the ocean.

I have to say, something doesn't sound right about this agent. The agent has to assume that you're trying to market yourself when she replies to your query. If you tell her that other agents are reading the fifty pages, but that you won't make any commitments to them until she gets back to you with a reject, then it does sound pretty silly on her part. What more could she ask for?

Funny, when I was writing earlier, I had thought of telling you NOT to tell this agent that others are reading your fifty pages, since if you are offering her an exclusive it wouldn't matter who else is reading what (that is, you would tell the others you were doing an exclusive if they asked for your ms). But I thought it was irrelevant to mention it. I guess it wasn't.

Cathy C
01-21-2006, 06:28 PM
Cathy,

I'm not sure what FWIW means.

I didn't take it as an insult, just an attitude I would have difficulty working with. I left the door open with her and she wished me good luck.

I just got another interested agent. I need to send her my first 3 chaps, a bio, and one page synopsis. I'll let you know how it goes.

It seems by query letter is finally doing its job.

FWIW = for what it's worth :)

Yeah, some long time agents can be blunt and not terribly warm and fuzzy. It's sort of like working with Donald Trump. Yeah, he CAN be friendly, but he doesn't HAVE to be to get by, like most of the rest of us.

Glad the query is getting bites! Congrats!

Julie Worth
01-21-2006, 07:57 PM
Well, here's her response to what I felt was a pretty generous and fair offer.

No Paul, it's not the signing with someone else, it's the actual reading. After 32 years as an agent, I don't read in competition. So good luck with the other agents currently also looking at The Bridge Beckons. If they fall through, feel free to contact me again with your attachment.
all best,

Now, I ask you is that egotistical, condescending, and what I would call just plain snotty, or what?

It's possible she was going to ask for money, or suggest that you use her as an editor. Which plan would work even better if you first strike out with everyone else.

Yes, let him come dragging back. Then I will get my hands on his wallet!

Valona
01-22-2006, 03:06 AM
It's possible she was going to ask for money, or suggest that you use her as an editor. Which plan would work even better if you first strike out with everyone else.

Yes, let him come dragging back. Then I will get my hands on his wallet!

Interesting. I hadn't thought of that. I understand she does part-own a small publishing company.

Branwyn
01-24-2006, 10:06 PM
Sounds very familiar...but if it is the same person they don't charge fees for reading or editing.

Valona
01-24-2006, 10:52 PM
Sounds very familiar...but if it is the same person they don't charge fees for reading or editing.

This agent didn't say anything about charging any fees. She just wanted an exclusive on my partial, which I couldn't give.

xhouseboy
01-26-2006, 02:21 AM
Well, here's her response to what I felt was a pretty generous and fair offer.

Now, I ask you is that egotistical, condescending, and what I would call just plain snotty, or what?

There's no way I would want to work with this lady any way. Good riddance, I say. There's got to be more than one fish in the ocean.


What she was asking for is pretty standard fare. Reading your work on exclusive terms means that she's not wasting her time if you have already sent the ms to a dozen other agents.

That was a pretty decent offer you got; 6 weeks isn't too long to wait for a response. And it would have at least comfirmed whether she felt the work was good enough for representation, and decent representation is way, way more than half the battle in getting your work published.

Valona
01-26-2006, 11:13 PM
What she was asking for is pretty standard fare. Reading your work on exclusive terms means that she's not wasting her time if you have already sent the ms to a dozen other agents.

That was a pretty decent offer you got; 6 weeks isn't too long to wait for a response. And it would have at least comfirmed whether she felt the work was good enough for representation, and decent representation is way, way more than half the battle in getting your work published.

She wasn't asking to read the book exculsivelly, she just wanted the partial on an exclusive basis. Since I had already included partials as required in a few other query packages I was not able to offer her the exclusive she requested. However, I told her I would not accept any other offers until I heard back from her. I think that was pretty much a fair agreement on my part to give her exclusive status. She couldn't handle that.