I have talked a lot about the best ways to handle an offer of representation, about how an author can take that initial offer and turn it around into the best offer–to ensure that you are signing with the agent that is best for you. My most recent post on the subject can be seen here.
But no matter how many times I have written on the subject, and for how many years, we still have authors regularly (okay maybe a few times a year) who pull their work from consideration because they’ve accepted an offer from another agent. Now, of course, there are a number of reasons this might happen, but it still always leaves us scratching our heads and wondering. We can’t help it, agents are naturally curious people.
Why would an author do this? I can only speculate since I’m not an author, but hey, speculation can be fun.
- The author hasn’t fully done her research and assumes she should always accept whatever comes through. I feel like we see this more in nonfiction, from authors who don’t spend years learning about the business in the same way fiction authors do. Usually, in these situations, we aren’t even notified until we either go to request more material or offer ourselves.
- The offering agent was top of the author’s list and she feels no need to talk to others. This may or may not be a mistake. Sometimes you do absolutely know and this is the right fit, but also, sometimes, you’re basing your decision on what your friends say or on an agent’s reputation instead of really ensuring that the agent you’re choosing is the right one for you. Of course, maybe in one phone call you know. That happens too.
- The offering agent pressures the author into signing by giving an unreasonable deadline and even bullying the author by threatening to pull the offer if the contract isn’t signed in a very tight time-period. Yes, I do know of this happening.
- I was never the first choice for this author so even though she did talk to other agents she didn’t include me in the list. That makes sense too. If the book is out with 20 people, but you have a top five it makes your life easier to immediately slash some of your list.
- You just want the process over and to move on to next steps. That’s fair. I get it. But this is your career you’re talking about and as much as you want the next steps to happen yesterday, it’s more important they are the right steps.
Either way, we accept the author’s decision and always keep our doors open. You just never know. And of course, always, we wish everyone publishing success because there really is room for everyone out there.