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Handling an Offer of Representation–The Extended Version

While I’ve posted a number of times on how to handle an offer of representation. I always think there’s room for more information. Recently I was scrolling through some author groups and came across some questions that made me think there is more I can say.

For those who haven’t seen my other posts on the subject, you can find my most recent here Handling an Offer of Representation post can be seen here or search through the archives.

So to expand on the previous post…

1. Be prepared. It’s still a good idea to know who you’re submitting to and have some idea of their backgrounds and lists. That being said, be prepared to learn new things. Maybe the agent has shifted genres and has some recent success stories that haven’t yet been posted or maybe the agent is completely different on the phone then what you imagined based on her profile. Don’t lock yourself in before the interviews even start. Take the time to find out the agent’s interest in the type of book you’ve submitted and the direction she hopes to go in with your and her own career.

2. Talk to the agent making the offer and take the time to talk to every agent offering. That being said, trust your gut. Sometimes we know what we want, or can at least narrow it down. For example, if you have your manuscript out with ten different agents, or have offers from ten different agents, don’t be afraid to turn down some of the offers after a first interview if you already know that person is out of the running. There’s no reason to keep everyone hanging if you’ve already narrowed your choices down to three or four.

3. Spend some time talking to the agent making the offer. Don’t expect this to happen in the first phone call, but plan instead to have a second phone call or maybe even a third if more question arise. Not only are these conversations good for answering your questions, but they should give you some idea of how responsive an agent is and how comfortable you are with her. If she makes you feel really comfortable and confident that’s probably a better choice then the agent who leaves you stumbling over your words.

4. Give agents a deadline. If you receive an offer, but want to give other agents the chance to “play” give them a time frame. While life and work can get in the way, I do think enthusiasm can be judged by how fast an agent moves. If you tell all agents to get back to you by Friday the 13th and hear from Jane on Monday the 9th with an offer, but don’t hear from Sam until the afternoon of Friday the 13th which one do you want to go with? Personally, unless Sam had something remarkable to say, I’d rather go with Jane. She seems hungry and excited. I also think how quickly an agent moves on an offer can be an indication of how quickly she moves in real life. An offer is the time when agents should move quickly. If they can’t move fast when there’s competition, how fast will they move when it’s just your manuscript to read?

5. Trust your gut. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. Sure, our gut can be wrong, but I think we always feel better about a decision when we’ve trusted our own instincts instead of listening to everyone else.

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