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CheyElizabeth
01-23-2016, 10:17 PM
I have a 3 book YA series coming out soon with a publisher (small, but reputable) and my contract states that they have first dibs on my next YA book. Before pitching my next book to them directly, I'd like to see about getting an agent first and I'm wondering how the query should go?

Should I state the right of first refusal at the start of the query? At the end? Only mention it if the agent asks to read the manuscript? Also, I'm interested in finding an agent to represent me for a long time, and would pitch said book to other publishers if the first one turns it down. Is it reasonable to hope for an agent who will also want to rep me full time and not just for this specific book and this specific publisher? Any other advice would be appreciated. Thanks!

Dennis E. Taylor
01-23-2016, 10:59 PM
First, IANAE (I am not an expert), but this doesn't strike me as a conflict. Unless you have a firm contract already, this just means that the next time you come to the table, you have an agent representing you. Since you pay the agent (15%), it makes no diff to the publisher. And if you say to agents that you have this agreement with the publisher, it makes their job much easier. So yeah, mention it. Absolutely. At the beginning, preferably.

Cyia
01-23-2016, 11:08 PM
You've got a couple of issues here.

You say you've got a 3-book series, which would be three connected books all contracted by the same publisher. That publisher will get all three of those books. These aren't the "first refusal" eligible books.

The right of first refusal comes into play with the first book you write that's not connected to those 3 books. If you write another series or a one-off, then your publisher gets first crack at that.

If you have a book ready to go right now, then you write a query like usual. However, you also inform the agent that you've got a series under contract with [name of publisher]. You can either lead with this, explaining that you got the deal yourself, but would like to find an agent for future works, or you can put it in at the end with your bio stuff.

Assuming you get an agent at this point, what will happen is that the first book outside your series will be sent to your current publisher for a month or so. If they want it, they'll make an offer. Unless your contract specifies that you must take any offer, you have the right to refuse and take your book elsewhere, at which point your agent will send it out to a list of other editors, just like any other novel. If your current publisher doesn't want the book, then you're also free to send it elsewhere.

It's a pretty standard clause, so any agent you approach should know that a first refusal clause is a possibility.

CheyElizabeth
01-23-2016, 11:13 PM
You've got a couple of issues here.

You say you've got a 3-book series, which would be three connected books all contracted by the same publisher. That publisher will get all three of those books. These aren't the "first refusal" eligible books.

The right of first refusal comes into play with the first book you write that's not connected to those 3 books. If you write another series or a one-off, then your publisher gets first crack at that.

If you have a book ready to go right now, then you write a query like usual. However, you also inform the agent that you've got a series under contract with [name of publisher]. You can either lead with this, explaining that you got the deal yourself, but would like to find an agent for future works, or you can put it in at the end with your bio stuff.

Assuming you get an agent at this point, what will happen is that the first book outside your series will be sent to your current publisher for a month or so. If they want it, they'll make an offer. Unless your contract specifies that you must take any offer, you have the right to refuse and take your book elsewhere, at which point your agent will send it out to a list of other editors, just like any other novel. If your current publisher doesn't want the book, then you're also free to send it elsewhere.

It's a pretty standard clause, so any agent you approach should know that a first refusal clause is a possibility.

Thank you for the advice. I should clarify that all three books from the contracted series are all already finished and the final one will be pubbed next month. That series is done, and so I'm moving onto my next project which is a book unrelated to that series.

Cyia
01-23-2016, 11:18 PM
In that case, query as usual, making sure to mention your publication credit. And good luck!

Jamesaritchie
01-23-2016, 11:57 PM
You simply spell it out in the query letter. Any good agent will know how to handle it. All you have to do is say you have a three book series with X publisher, and would the agent be interested in looking at the contract you have.