I was helped a lot by a previous post of yours, how to turn a small press offer into something bigger. I went back and read it again and was well prepared for the exciting day. I got the small press offer, did not accept it (but did not turn it down either), and found a good agent. The novel is now on submission with the knowledge that there’s an offer on the table. My question is: how long can you keep the small press waiting? It’s been about a month now (since the offer; two weeks since submission to other editors) and I’m hoping we’ll hear from the other editors soon. Two weeks ago, I informed the small press that an agent would be handling the contract and could I have a few more weeks for my response? I haven’t heard back from them as of this writing. Thanks very much.
In my opinion two weeks is more than enough time, bordering on too much time actually. I understand it probably took two weeks to find an agent and that’s perfectly acceptable, but with an offer on the table, no matter how small the press, the other publishers should be jumping through hoops, at your agent’s insistence, to respond as quickly as possible. In my experience, once you’ve secured an agent, she should submit the material immediately and ask for replies immediately. The only caveat to that is if you are fully intending to turn down the small press offer no matter what happens with other publishers.
What you really need to be doing is talking to your agent about her strategy and ask not only how she’s approaching editors with the project but what sort of timeline she’s giving them.