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Nickman
04-02-2013, 04:40 PM
Do agents change their minds after making an unequivocal offer, which is formally accepted? I'm scared to push.

Barbara R.
04-02-2013, 04:44 PM
I received a very enthusiastic and definite offer of representation from a prestigious agency, (AAR) two weeks ago. I accepted straight away. The agent was delighted by my response and said that a contract would be sent. Since then, nothing. I have sent an innocuous prod, (not wishing to appear impatient or pushy), and the agent said that he was very busy and would speak with me soon. Still nothing. Do agents change their minds after making an unequivocal offer, which is formally accepted? I'm scared to push.

Congratulations! Most unlikely that the agent's had a change of heart. What it is---you're on publishing time now, in which a week passes in a heartbeat and "right away" means "next month sometime." The past two weeks have included a couple of holidays and a school vacation, aside from everything else on the agent's desk. I'd give it a few more weeks before nudging, but then, nudge away.

Nickman
04-02-2013, 04:51 PM
!

Thump
04-02-2013, 04:53 PM
Also, the offer and your acceptance constitute a verbal contract I believe. Which, if I'm correct, means they have to take you on or you might have legal recourse. It also means if someone else offers rep, you have to decline.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong :)

Nickman
04-02-2013, 04:57 PM
Thanks

MrsBrommers
04-02-2013, 05:10 PM
Also bear in mind that, if he's not the agency's head, he most likely needs to run the contract through that person. My contract was with my agency, not my agent, so the president of the agency is the person who had to sign off on it. Depending on how busy that person is, there can also be a delay. I want to say mine took about a month to arrive. Some people will get their contracts sooner, some a little longer.

Nickman
04-02-2013, 05:24 PM
!

Terie
04-02-2013, 05:28 PM
Also, the offer and your acceptance constitute a verbal contract I believe. Which, if I'm correct, means they have to take you on or you might have legal recourse. It also means if someone else offers rep, you have to decline.

From my own personal experience, verbal agreements of representation offers don't seem to amount to squat. I'm pretty sure, but don't know for positive, that they don't constitute verbal contracts that are legally actionable.

But I'm not a lawyer. Giving out legal advice on the internet isn't a very good idea.

Nickman
04-02-2013, 05:36 PM
.

Nickman
04-02-2013, 05:39 PM
!

waylander
04-02-2013, 05:43 PM
Same thing happened to me.
The contract turned up in the post after a couple of weeks

Namatu
04-02-2013, 05:44 PM
Congratulations on the offer!

If the agent said he was "very busy" then that's probably code for "drowning under the weight of a thousand competing demands." I wouldn't worry about the wait just yet.

Terie
04-02-2013, 05:49 PM
Have you had a similar experience which turned out badly, Terie? (Only if you want to say, obviously, but you mention 'personal experience'. Be useful to know if someone else had an offer which faded away?

(edited now that Nickman has read my reply) Short answer: Completely different situation. I was specifically responding to the comment that speculated that the exchange is legally binding.

Nothing about my experience should worry you one iota. :)

Nickman
04-02-2013, 05:50 PM
!

Nickman
04-02-2013, 05:51 PM
Sorry to hear about that, Terie, and thanks for sharing. I very much hope everything came out okay in the end.

Axordil
04-02-2013, 06:02 PM
Many writers are famously good at spinning out "what ifs" and notoriously bad at limiting the practice to their work. The trade lends itself to catastrophic thinking, much like child-rearing.

That said, pros tend to act like pros. Slow pros, perhaps, but pros.

BethS
04-02-2013, 06:03 PM
I received a very enthusiastic and definite offer of representation from a prestigious agency, (AAR) two weeks ago. I accepted straight away. The agent was delighted by my response and said that a contract would be sent. Since then, nothing. I have sent an innocuous prod, (not wishing to appear impatient or pushy), and the agent said that he was very busy and would speak with me soon. Still nothing.

This is not at all unusual. He has not changed his mind. Give it a few more weeks, at least.

And congratulations! :)

Nickman
04-02-2013, 06:09 PM
!

Stephanie Witter
04-02-2013, 06:43 PM
That's an amazing news! Congrats!

I'm not agented or anything, but from what I gathered here and there, it's very common to wait. Agents are very busy between reading the queries, the manuscripts, pitching to publishers and other things I know nothing about. Don't worry and enjoy. I can't wait to know more about your book. :)

Susan Littlefield
04-02-2013, 06:44 PM
:welcome: Nickman.

Congratulations! Patience is a virtue. Start working on something else while you wait. :)

waylander
04-02-2013, 07:14 PM
Thanks, Namatu and Waylander! Is that the agent you are still with, Waylander? Great to hear that the contract turned up after a wait.

yes, still with him.

mshean
04-02-2013, 07:20 PM
Nickman! :D I just wanted to extend my most heartfelt congratulations, mate. Here's hoping that a lot of doors open for you in the near future - even if 'publishing time' can sometimes make that feel like a thousand years away.

Wisteria Vine
04-02-2013, 07:22 PM
Have you had a similar experience which turned out badly, Terie? (Only if you want to say, obviously, but you mention 'personal experience'. Be useful to know if someone else had an offer which faded away?

I don't mean to make you nervous, but yes...I have a friend whose offer faded away. She got an offer from a big agency, told the agent she'd have to give it a couple of days to consider because she had another offer, but within 36 hours, the agent emailed her that she'd changed her mind. No real reason given.

It seemed like a case of "I'm going to break up with you before you break up with me!" type thing.

But it does happen.

I'm certain in your case it's just that the agent is swamped - so don't stress over it too much.

Nickman
04-02-2013, 07:29 PM
!

Cathy C
04-02-2013, 07:33 PM
It took about a month and a half to get my letter, but the agent and I corresponded about the book quite happily in the meantime.

No fears. The others are right---you're on publishing time now. Congrats! :D

Nickman
04-02-2013, 07:59 PM
Thanks for that, Cathy! I will try to be patient, but the whole thing is just so unreal to me. I just can't believe it could happen... feel like 'The Emperor's New Clothes'! Any moment they'll be onto me, and realise it's not what they thought it was. Guess a lot of folk feel like that, huh?

Barbara R.
04-03-2013, 04:12 PM
Also, the offer and your acceptance constitute a verbal contract I believe. Which, if I'm correct, means they have to take you on or you might have legal recourse. It also means if someone else offers rep, you have to decline.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong :)

I'm not a lawyer, so no idea if you're right on the legal merits. But since the last thing any writer needs is an agent who doesn't wholeheartedly believe in the book, compelling someone to rep you would be counterproductive. And the other alternative would be a financial penalty---highly unlikely, and even if you won you'd lose, because no other agent would touch you.

It's all academic, anyway. The OP will get that contract in a week or so and can then start biting fingernails over the submitting process.

And now I'm off for a manicure...

Nickman
04-08-2013, 02:54 PM
Well, it's now three weeks, and zero contact. Don't know whether to chase up or not. This all seems so bizarre to me.

Stacia Kane
04-08-2013, 03:45 PM
Did you speak to the agent on the phone before, or just correspond by email?

Nickman
04-08-2013, 05:03 PM
Everything by email, the offer, my acceptance, and an enthusiastic response to my acceptance. Since then, two emails apologising for not phoning, because very busy, and promising to phone 'next week'. 'The 'next weeks' in question have now both passed. Tone of both brief emails friendly, but still no call, or contract. Deeply worried, and scared to chase, in case I come across as a needy nuisance.

Cathy C
04-08-2013, 05:37 PM
I would send something like this (not these exact words, or someone can Google it. :ROFL: )

****************
Dear (first name):

I just wanted to take a second to thank you for agreeing to represent me. It's like a dream come true, working with an agent of your calibre. Of course, I'm excited, nervous and terrified, all rolled into one, which I fear has made me a little paranoid. I hope you'll forgive me if I come across as needy right now, while I'm getting my feet under me after so long of looking. I'm trying really hard to beat down my instinct of calling you every five minutes to talk about what you have planned for the manuscript. :)

Thanks again for believing you can sell the book. You have no idea how happy that makes me.

Sincerely,


Nickman

****************
There's no shame in admitting you're new and scared. Everyone is the first time. I'll bet you'll wind up with a call shortly after this, or at least a warm and fuzzy email. :)

Nickman
04-08-2013, 06:14 PM
Big hugs, Cathy! Thanks so much. Will give it a go!

Meems
04-08-2013, 09:50 PM
Were the apology e-mails for being busy etc. in response to e-mails you had sent, or did they come without any check-in e-mails on your end?

On the one hand, we can all accept that agents get crazy busy sometimes, especially if they're in the middle of making some big deal etc. We have to make allowances that for the fact that there are only so many hours in the day and that they're going to prioritize the way we all prioritize.

But on the other, I'd be a little uneasy about the silence since it's been almost a month now, and since they keep pushing calls back etc.

Nickman
04-10-2013, 02:17 PM
I emailed on Monday. No reply. I think it is time to let myself off this hook, since they are clearly not going to, and stop hoping. Hurts. So, to any who have recently received offers, I am certain that my experience is very unusual. Keep going, chaps, and very best of luck.

TheCakeNovelist
04-10-2013, 10:05 PM
Nickman, I'm so sorry you're going through this! If it were me, I'd go ahead and give them a call. This is not being a nuisance, this is your writing career, and your time is just as valuable; at this point you have nothing to lose. I feel like any agent who would be perturbed by a call to clarify the situation isn't someone you want to work with anyway. All my best, hopefully you'll have resolution soon!

Wisteria Vine
04-11-2013, 01:23 AM
Nickman, I'm so sorry about this. It sucks.

BUT...the good news is that one agent liked you enough to make an offer, so it's likely you'll find another agent soon. Something about your query and ms is working. Have faith in that.

::hugs::

Bushrat
04-11-2013, 02:40 AM
I second theCake - give the agent a call!

Nickman
04-11-2013, 04:34 AM
I hope this doesn't happen to anyone else. It has completely thrown me because the agent was so enthusiastic. This is a big well known agency. I cannot understand why they would do this. If they were in the least unsure, why offer representation and express delight at my acceptance. It is, at the very least, morally repugnant, and at worst, extremely cruel. Thank you so much for all the kindness expressed here. It has been very comforting to know there are such
nice folk out there.

Meems
04-11-2013, 04:59 AM
I'm really sorry you had to go through this. There really is no excuse for it.
If and when they changed their minds about representing you, a one line e-mail informing you of this would have sufficed to put your mind at rest about it. It's incredibly cruel and cowardly on their part, and all the more shocking since you say that they are a well known and respectable agency.

But take heart. Think of it as a dodged bullet. Your agent is someone that you have to be able to trust and have complete confidence in. After all, as someone else mentioned, you're placing your career in their hands. Is this the behavior of someone who you'd trust with your career?

Chalk it up to experience, dust yourself off and move on. Plenty more fish in that sea.

Mclesh
04-11-2013, 05:23 AM
Nickman, I've read through this thread and I feel for you. Something I'm wondering, though, is it possible the agent who offered rep has had some sort of emergency or medical problem where he/she can't get back to you? I can't imagine a professional behaving in this manner.

Another thought I had, since agents do seem to change agencies frequently. Is it possible this agent has left and gone to another agency, leaving you holding the bag?

I really hope you hear something soon!

Axordil
04-11-2013, 05:27 AM
Does the agent have a Twitter stream? Do you follow it? It would be very, very odd for an agent to offer rep and then disappear without there being something like a medical emergency or a major personnel shuffle going on.

I also don't think someone who has gotten an offer is considered a nuisance when they call to ask about it. You have nothing to lose by calling.

Bushrat
04-11-2013, 05:52 AM
I cannot understand why they would do this.

Exactly. That's why I think you need to call and actually talk to the person instead of agonizing and guessing, I mean, you do have an offer.
Don't be scared, you do need to clear this up :) Nothing bad will happen just because you call - you have a valid, perfect reason. Agents are just people, many of them very nice; I know this because I'm being represented by one. So take heart and call.

Jumping Jim
04-11-2013, 04:09 PM
Nickman,

I'd call, but not just out of the blue: I'd send a short email first to set something up. "Got a quick question - could we talk tomorrow at 10, or would 4 work better for you?" If no response, call at 10. But sometimes the very idea of a call might generate a response.

Good luck!

Quickbread
04-12-2013, 01:45 AM
Totally changing my post here after reading all the way through the threads. I started out saying "Congratulations," and now I can see things are still uncertain for you, Nickman.

Well, I had a touch-and-go situation with my agent at the beginning of the year. He scheduled a call with me and never called. Not quite the same as getting an offer and then silence, but still, it was very disappointing. Turns out he got very busy and over-optimistically scheduled the call during a busy conference.

It's possible the agent has been busy or had an emergency. Three weeks isn't long in publishing time, even though it feels like ages from the writer's side. I'm still waiting to receive my signed agent contract copy, and I sent my signed copy back a month ago. Some agents are very prompt and others aren't. But an agent should respond to nudging, even if it takes a few days.

I like the idea of a call, but maybe not until a week or two has passed since your last email. Give her a chance to prove and reveal herself. You should know what kind of agent you're working with so your expectations are set properly, and so you can make sure this is someone whose style you can work with long term. For instance, with mine, I know now (and two of his authors have told me) to just nudge if he forgets something, and he responds. That works fine for me, but it probably wouldn't for some other writers.

It may not be much consolation, but the truth is it's better to have no agent than one who isn't enthusiastic to work with you or doesn't suit your style.

Fingers crossed that it works out for you!

Cathy C
04-12-2013, 02:27 PM
Whether or not this particular agent pans out, Nickman, this is a good opportunity for you to sit down & have a serious conversation with yourself about your expectations in an agent. I say this because I only have any sort of conversation with my agent a few times a YEAR. I wouldn't expect any more than that, nor would she be willing to. Because of that, we mesh well. No doubt, others would be horrified to only hear from their agent once a year.

Every agent is different in how they conduct business, so the relationship you need to find is one that meets your expectations. My bet is, even if this agent calls tomorrow, you might not be ultimately satisfied with the long-term relationship.

Take a look at this (http://ww.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=273423&postcount=4) old post I did. It'll help you hone in on what you want for your agent partnership.

There are no right or wrong answers. It's just a guide to help you discover the expectations you might not have realized you had. Good luck

Nickman
04-12-2013, 02:28 PM
So very grateful for everyone's input. AW folk are the best! Hanging in there, albeit with very little hope. Did actually ring the agent's assistant, on the pretext of asking whether a contract had been sent out, and I hadn't received it. (Rather dodgy post where I live, up in the hills!) No pick up on the other end, so snuck away. My woe's are probably getting boring now, so I apologise for seeming such a limp lettuce, but this has me beat.

Nickman
04-12-2013, 06:42 PM
I guess the thing is, if I only knew where I stood, I would wait patiently for however long anything takes. It's the uncertainty that's the killer.

Quickbread
04-12-2013, 07:19 PM
Well, apparently the waiting never stops, and it gets even worse after you get an agent. I'm not out on submission yet, but that's supposedly a grueling wait full of uncertainty and fear.

What's really been helpful for me was simply adjusting and relaxing into the idea that it all takes much longer than one would expect, and I've kept myself busy preparing for the next stage: learning more about what's next in the publishing process and also diving into the next book. That's all worked well to kill my anxiety.

kaitie
04-12-2013, 09:00 PM
For what it's worth, I found the waiting while on submission easier. I didn't have the desire to check my email every five minutes to see if I'd gotten a rejection or not. I knew I wouldn't hear anything unless it was good news, so I just checked once a day and didn't expect an email. It was much worse for me to have 20 queries out knowing I could get a response on one of them every second.

MandyHubbard
04-13-2013, 12:39 AM
I would send something like this (not these exact words, or someone can Google it. :ROFL: )

****************
Dear (first name):

I just wanted to take a second to thank you for agreeing to represent me. It's like a dream come true, working with an agent of your calibre. Of course, I'm excited, nervous and terrified, all rolled into one, which I fear has made me a little paranoid. I hope you'll forgive me if I come across as needy right now, while I'm getting my feet under me after so long of looking. I'm trying really hard to beat down my instinct of calling you every five minutes to talk about what you have planned for the manuscript. :)

Thanks again for believing you can sell the book. You have no idea how happy that makes me.

Sincerely,


Nickman

****************
There's no shame in admitting you're new and scared. Everyone is the first time. I'll bet you'll wind up with a call shortly after this, or at least a warm and fuzzy email. :)

(bolding is mine...) Firstly, I would NOT send an email like that. It sounds needy and whiny and like i'm in for a whole lot of hand-holding. Truthfully, if I got an email like that I'd be thinking, "Aw, crap. I hope she's not going to be one of those clients..." And I would consider myself warm and approachable and communicative, and certainly understanding of my clients nervousness having been there myself! But it's kinda like the nervous boyfriend who needs to be reassured that you love him-- I'd rather have the boyfriend who is confident I love him becuase he knows he's awesome and deserves it.

Secondly, Nickman, it sounds like this agent is swamped, and that it's been 3 weeks and during that time you've been offered rep, accepted it, got an enthusiastic response, and received at least two other emails apologizing for the busyness. I would NOT be leaping to this not working out yet. You state, "if I knew where I stood," and "it's the uncertainty that's the killer."

What uncertainty? s/He formally offered representation, you accepted, a contract is forthcoming, and you'll have a phone call soon. There's no uncertainty here.

You have an agent. Celebrate and be patient. If s/he is quiet all of this week, email on Monday and be brief but to the point. "Dear X, I am excited to start working together. Please let me know what time to expect your call. I'm free all day Tuesday and Thursday, at 123-123-1234. Looking forward to it!"

Nothing whiny or needy.

Cathy C
04-13-2013, 01:04 AM
I actually sent a very similar email to my agent when she first offered representation when I didn't get the contract in a few days. I didn't consider myself needy. I just didn't know a thing about the business and I didn't know who to ask (not being a member of AW yet.)

She laughed and told me not to worry about the wait. She was in it for the long haul. It was all good thereafter. I've now been repped by her for coming up on a decade. :)

But I do understand the fear and worry... Been there; have the T-shirt. ;)

MandyHubbard
04-13-2013, 01:10 AM
I actually sent a very similar email to my agent when she first offered representation when I didn't get the contract in a few days. I didn't consider myself needy. I just didn't know a thing about the business and I didn't know who to ask (not being a member of AW yet.)

She laughed and told me not to worry about the wait. She was in it for the long haul. It was all good thereafter. I've now been repped by her for coming up on a decade. :)

But I do understand the fear and worry... Been there; have the T-shirt. ;)

Dont mean to imply that if you send an email like that you ARE needy. Only that any agent who has had a super-needy client may read that and go, "oh, I hope she's not going to be needy." I am sure you've conducted yourself professionally and your agent isn't worried about you. heh.

The point I was trying to make is that the agent should treat you well becuase you EXPECT to be treated well, becuase you are worthy of it. I get querie sometimes that are like, "oh please, just take a chance on an uknown!" It's a turn off. If you're a great writer, it's not a chance-- I am THRILLED to work with you becuase you've written a damn good book. The writer needn't feel that i'm doing them some generous favor-- the book rocks, and I'm the lucky one. ;-)