This is a post I’ve been wanting to write for a while. For some reason, for some authors, notifying agents of an offer (either of a publisher offer or offer of representation) seems to be tricky. There are subtle nuances that go into the way you inform the agent that can make or break their desire to “play” as we say.
Sometimes we’ll get notifications that say, “I want to let you know that I got an offer” …okaaay. Does that mean you accepted and are pulling it from submission? Or are you looking to turn it into multiple offers?
Sometimes we get this: “Another agent offered representation today and I’m really excited, but before signing I wanted to know the status.” So you’re planning on signing anyway? Because no agent wants to read a manuscript with an eye toward representation if you have no intention of considering her offer of representation. Don’t just offer us a chance to “be nice.”
Sometimes this, “I got an offer I really want to accept, but as a courtesy if you’d still like to review the material I’d be happy to let you do so.” Again, in this case simply let me know you’ve accepted another offer. I’d rather not put all my clients and everything else on hold to read something when I’m not even in the running for it.
I’ve always pushed authors to turn an offer around into something bigger. This is your chance to really interview and find the agent who is right for you. That being said, you also need to make sure you’re as honest with yourself and with agents as possible. If the agent who offered is the perfect fit and you strongly feel there’s no one else, then just accept. Sure, we’ll all feel a little hurt, but it’s better than wasting hours reading a book that we never had a shot at anyway.
When notifying agents let’s make this easy:
I’m [excited, please, thrilled, overwhelmed] to inform you that I’ve just received an offer of [publication, representation] for TITLE OF BOOK. I’ve told the [offering agent, publisher] that I’ll need time to [find an agent, make my decision].
If you are still interested, could you let me know by DATE?
I’d love to gauge your interest before accepting. Could you let me know by DATE?
Thank you so much for your consideration. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.
While you should write in a way that best reflects your style, you can see here the tone is encouraging and the details are all in there. This gives everyone a clear idea of what you need and also lets other agents know that you are still very interested in working with them.
Because, well, agents can be just as neurotic as authors 😉
Good luck and congratulations if you’re currently using this form.