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whiporee
12-01-2013, 05:35 AM
I've got an offer of representation -- I know, I can't believe it either. But I've got no idea of what I'm doing at this point. Are there questions I should be asking before signing a contact, or should I just shut up and be happy?

So, for those of you who have agents, or for any agents out there, are there things I ought to know? The agency is reputable -- smallish (100 clients) and is more non-fiction than fiction. Does that matter?

I mean, I'm really excited and can't believe it, but I'm scared I'll screw up the next step. Any advice would be appreciated greatly.

mccardey
12-01-2013, 05:44 AM
CONGRATULATIONS!!! :partyguy:

There are some good questions to ask - I remember reading about them in a thread, so while you wait for an actual agent to respond here, I'll see if I can find them.

Well done, you!

Quickbread
12-01-2013, 07:09 AM
Congratulations on your offer!! :hooray:

Here are some questions it may be good to have the answers to:

- Does the agent sell what you write? Nonfiction and fiction sometimes require different editorial approaches, not to mention different editors. Be sure the agent is comfortable working with and selling books like yours.

- What is the agent's submission plan? Does he/she feel the manuscript ready or not? If so, where do they envision sending it and how will they pitch it? (This will give you an idea of how they're thinking of your book, and you can decide if that aligns with your vision.)

- Is the agent interested in one book or representing you over multiple books?

- What's the agent's communication style? Do they prefer email or phone and how often are they in contact with their clients? How soon can you expect to hear back if you have a question about something? (Knowing what to expect in terms of responsiveness is really important for your sense of security and trust in your agent)

- Does the agent/agency do anything to support their writers leading up to and during book launches?

- You should ask for a copy of the agency agreement to review, and you should also ask for a week to let other agents with your full/partial know about your offer and decide whether they are interested. And if you have pending queries with agents who are top choices, you can contact them too and tell them you have an offer.

- Read the agreement carefully and make sure it all makes sense to you. Ask about anything that's unclear, and the agent should gladly explain it to you. Make sure they're charging standard rates for standard services and not overreaching.

- Does the agent really LOVE your manuscript and your writing? (This is one to answer on your own, but it's of huge importance. It means the agent's not going to give up easily if it doesn't sell right away; and they're likely to get equally excited about other things you write, too.)

- And you've checked the agency and agent out in the Bewares section? If there were any negative comments about the agent, take note of them and consider whether you might experience something similar.

I hope that helps. Good luck!

Perks
12-01-2013, 07:45 AM
Congratulations!

Hopefully the big questions were asked and answered through your research before you queried said agent. Things like this agent's track record and industry reputation are best gleaned before you send out your work.

At this point, you'll want to know the agent's plan for your manuscript. You'll want to ask if he or she has any recommended edits, what houses might be a good fit, and how the agency prefers to seal the deal. (Many agencies have written contracts with well defined terms, but some still work on a handshake.)

Other than that, you'll want to contact any other agents who might be considering your work and see if you land yourself in that weirdly nice place of entertaining more than one offer.

Best of luck and keep us posted!

Putputt
12-01-2013, 08:51 PM
Congratulations!

If there are other agents reading your MS, you should let them know you have an offer so they can either pull out or make an offer as well.

As for questions, Quickbread and Perks listed really good ones, but I also asked agents how hands-on are they with their editing process. My first agent did one round of editing before sending the MS to publishers. My current agent is a lot more hands-on...in fact, I've just finished the 5th round of edits with her. It's more time-consuming, but I'm really happy about it because I feel like I have someone holding my paw every step of the way. :)

Best of luck! What an exciting time for you.

Canton
12-01-2013, 10:03 PM
Rachelle Gardner has a blog where one of her articles is "What to ask an Agent?" You might find that to be very helpful.

Siri Kirpal
12-01-2013, 10:39 PM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Congratulations! :hooray:

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

whiporee
12-06-2013, 03:33 AM
Okay, so now I'm trying not to panic.

He asked me for my questions, and I sent them. Nothing out pif line -- how many clients, how many have gotten published, communication style, that kind of things. He hasn't gotten back to me, its only been two days, but I'm now worried I've screwed this whole thing up. At my request, he sent me a copy of the contract, and I planned to sign it (pretty standard boilerplate), but my wife wanted me to have our lawyer take a look at it. I told him that, but ...

I don't know. I'm staying away -- I don't want to look needy or desperate, even though I am clearly both. But now I'm just scared as hell.

Putputt
12-06-2013, 01:20 PM
Okay, so now I'm trying not to panic.

He asked me for my questions, and I sent them. Nothing out pif line -- how many clients, how many have gotten published, communication style, that kind of things. He hasn't gotten back to me, its only been two days, but I'm now worried I've screwed this whole thing up. At my request, he sent me a copy of the contract, and I planned to sign it (pretty standard boilerplate), but my wife wanted me to have our lawyer take a look at it. I told him that, but ...

I don't know. I'm staying away -- I don't want to look needy or desperate, even though I am clearly both. But now I'm just scared as hell.

Aww, try not to panic. I know how it feels to be in that position. :Hug2: Time feels like it's oozing by, but two days is nothing. Try not to think about it.

WendyN
12-06-2013, 05:09 PM
Okay, so now I'm trying not to panic.

He asked me for my questions, and I sent them. Nothing out pif line -- how many clients, how many have gotten published, communication style, that kind of things. He hasn't gotten back to me, its only been two days, but I'm now worried I've screwed this whole thing up. At my request, he sent me a copy of the contract, and I planned to sign it (pretty standard boilerplate), but my wife wanted me to have our lawyer take a look at it. I told him that, but ...

I don't know. I'm staying away -- I don't want to look needy or desperate, even though I am clearly both. But now I'm just scared as hell.

I was hoping you'd post an update.

I just recently read Noah Lukeman's How to Land (and Keep) a Literary Agent (http://www.lukeman.com/landaliteraryagent/) and it might be advantageous for you to download a (free!) copy and check out Chapter 7 -- it gave a great list of things to look for in an agency agreement so that you aren't taken advantage of. He also made the point that generally, if the agent is reputable, they're not going to be trying to screw over their clients -- if they acted like that, they wouldn't *have* any clients.

All of your other questions seem totally reasonable; I wouldn't worry about it taking a couple of days... agents are busy people.

Quickbread
12-06-2013, 05:52 PM
Reputable agents don't willingly screw over clients, but there are plenty of bad matches for a wide variety of reasons.

Two days isn't very long so don't panic. But I've been there myself. Are other agents considering your manuscript at this point or is it a choice between going for this agent and continuing to look? If the agent takes this much time to get back to you now, this is probably how it will always be in terms of responsiveness. There's nothing bad about that; it's just good to know so you don't panic every time you email him and don't hear from from him for a few days. This whole publishing thing is a rush-wait business. It's grueling that way.

Also, I'm not sure how much insight a general attorney would have on an agency contract because they won't know what's standard and what isn't. Be sure you aren't signing away all your rights forever, that they're only going to take commission on what they sell and also that you can exit with 30-60 days notice at any time for any reason. Caveat: I am not a lawyer or publishing industry pro, just a writer who went through a similar panic last winter. There are some great sources online about agency agreements that you can find through Google. :)

whiporee
12-07-2013, 01:04 AM
Are other agents considering your manuscript at this point or is it a choice between going for this agent and continuing to look?

I only had one other request, and when I write her to tell her I had an offer, she admitted she hadn't looked at it yet and asked until the end of the week to get back to me. I took a class from her, so I think her request was mostly out of politeness -- she asked for the full 20 minutes after getting the query that she helped write :) But I haven't heard from her either. So I think it's a choice between him and having to keep looking.

I would have no problem with signing even without my lawyer's approval because there are plenty of outs, but if I do that without him answering my questions, that just doesn't feel right. And I think this is his style -- I've read that about him, that he is tight-lipped, which isn't a great fit for me, but the fact that he read it fast (four days for 146,000 words) and said he enjoyed it a lot makes me think he'd be a good one to pitch it.

So I'm going to try to stay warm (it was colder today in Colorado than it is at the North Pole) and get the Christmas tree up and all that stuff and try not to worry. If I don't hear from him by Monday, I'll drop a quick follow up. And the meantime, I'll take that he hasn't gotten back to me as a sign he's busy, and that's a good thing.

Thanks for the support and kind words, everyone. i appreciate it.

hikarinotsubasa
12-07-2013, 03:16 AM
I don't have any experience with offers of rep, yet, but if there are outstanding questions that haven't been answered, I wouldn't sign anything without those answers.

If you have an offer of rep, I believe it is now acceptable to call him as well, if you really are not getting any response to your email.

I hope he's just busy, and that all this worrying will have been for nothing! But it's always nice to be safe.

blacbird
12-07-2013, 09:53 AM
1. What is your name?

2. What is your quest?

3. What is your favorite color?

That oughtta do it.

caw

whiporee
12-08-2013, 01:59 AM
Okay, here's the update. He wrote me back, answered my questions and wants to go forward. He's not real experienced, but the agency has sold a lot of books. The named agent is involved in everything, and he promised me she'd be involved in this as well.

So it looks like a go. It's not a perfect fit, but I think it makes more sense to have someone querying editors than me continuing to query agents. And he likes the book for all the right reasons.

Thanks for the support everyone!!

Quickbread
12-08-2013, 08:11 PM
I'm glad he got back to you. Make sure you give the pending agent her week before you decide. Good luck!

whiporee
12-10-2013, 08:08 AM
Okay, so now the other agent has offered. It's a much bigger agency with a fiction presence. But they didn't even read until I told them I had an offer, though the agent did say she really enjoyed the book. And I have actually met this one at a conference earlier this year.

So now it's another question -- how would you decide? Someone showed initial interest, but has less experience at fiction. The other didn't make it a priority, but has more of a track record.

Good problem to have, I know. But still a problem. Any advice?

Old Hack
12-10-2013, 10:51 AM
I don't think the speed with which the second agent read your book is an issue here. If they're a better agent, and have more experience, those are strong points in their favour.

Putputt
12-10-2013, 12:30 PM
Congratulations!

I agree with Old Hack that the speed of the second agent shouldn't be an issue. Most of the agents who offered me rep did not get to my MS until I nudged them saying I had an offer. I think that's understandable, given how busy they are. Have you spoken to the second agent and listened to what they have to say about your book?

Like Old Hack, I think the fact that this agent has more of a track record counts for more than her perceived lack of speed. Talk to her and see what kinds of edits she would like you to make and what her plans are as far as submissions go. And, of course, see if you guys get along and if you'd feel more comfortable with her or with the first agent.

Good luck!

Perks
12-10-2013, 05:33 PM
Okay, so now the other agent has offered. It's a much bigger agency with a fiction presence. But they didn't even read until I told them I had an offer, though the agent did say she really enjoyed the book. And I have actually met this one at a conference earlier this year.

So now it's another question -- how would you decide? Someone showed initial interest, but has less experience at fiction. The other didn't make it a priority, but has more of a track record.

Good problem to have, I know. But still a problem. Any advice?
I've had the problem and made the wrong choice (although the universe was incredibly generous and gave me an opportunity to right that wrong, albeit a year and a half later.)

So weigh the experience of the agent carefully, but give an ear to your instinct. Specifically, does one agent understand and champion the manuscript more than the other? Don't discount enthusiasm for the work.

(And yeah, it doesn't matter at all that the second agent didn't read until you got an offer. Toss that out of the decision.)

Best of luck to you! And congratulations!

Quickbread
12-10-2013, 08:10 PM
I want to echo everyone above -- agents are so incredibly busy that it can take another offer to get them to sit down with a manuscript in their non-client pile, even when it's something they're excited about. My current agent was one of those, and I feel so lucky to have her. She's a totally devoted advocate for me and my work.

I hear you trying to make the best logical decision in terms of the agent. But the right choice is really a mix of head and heart. Ideally, you'll have a long working relationship with this person, and it's much more than just a business transaction. But even then, you'll want someone by your side whom you really trust and feel comfortable with.

Hopefully you had a phone call with the second offering agent already. And you might ask yourself, who seems to click with you and your work more? Who seems to have a great line on how to pitch it? Was one conversation more easy-going or dynamic or inspiring than the other? Whose personality did you like? Who seems to know their stuff in a way that will help you be a better writer and published author? Is there a difference in their communication style? If so, which do you prefer? And what does your gut say?

And finally, congratulations!!! Having two agents offering on your manuscript is an amazing accomplishment, so pat yourself on the back. Well done!

whiporee
12-12-2013, 10:01 PM
Just to update: I went with the second agent to offer, the one with the bigger agency. Once she got to reading it, she's thrilled with the book, has suggestions and thinks it has a lot of potential. She showed the kind of enthusiasm and passion for it I'd hoped for, and I couldn't be more thrilled.

Now I have to tell the other one, but that's part of the game, I guess, for them and for us.

Thanks again for all the help and advice. I appreciate it/

Quickbread
12-13-2013, 06:23 PM
That's wonderful! Congratulations on your new agent!! :)