How an Agent Benefits You When that Offer Comes IN

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Feb 20 2018

Being a querying author often makes you feel powerless. You’re looking to hire an agent to work for you and yet you somehow find yourself at the mercy of agents and their rejections. It’s a very weird dynamic. Until it isn’t. Until things turn around and you find yourself in the driver’s seat and finally in control of your career and the decisions you’ll be making for your future.

What continues to amaze us at BookEnds is how often an author finds herself in that seat and instead of taking control she abdicates. She gives up her seat and instead waits for the next ride. Which, as we know, might never come. In our estimation it’s still all too common for us to get some version of this in our inbox, “This small publisher wants to buy the thing I sent so I’m withdrawing, do you want to see something else?”

And the driver’s seat goes to the small publisher. Not only are you giving up the ability to have an agent negotiate a strong contract for you, but you’re also giving up the opportunity to go out to a wider selection of publishers, negotiate a bigger deal, or grab an agent when you’re hot.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll probably say it hundreds of times again, when you have an offer, either from a publisher or an agent, you are in control. You are finally in the position to use this offer to find the perfect agent for you and the perfect home for your book. Instead of pulling the book from submission, here is what I would advise:

  1. Contact all agents currently reviewing your material (and even those who just have queries) to let them know you have an offer. Give them a timeframe by which you want a response.
  2. Contact the publisher or offering agent to let them know when you’ll get back to them. If you’re contacting the publisher simply let them know you’re interviewing agents.
  3. Interview all offering agents and pick the one you think is best suited to you and your career goals.
  4. Go forth and build a career.

Good luck!

3 responses to “How an Agent Benefits You When that Offer Comes IN”

  1. Avatar AJ Blythe says:

    I didn’t realise that was common enough practice for it to be noteworthy. I want an agent and that’s pretty much the line in the sand for me. Can’t wait until the driver’s seat is mine *grin*.

  2. […] 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. […]

  3. Thanks for this article — I really appreciate your perspective.