An Offer on the Table

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Oct 17 2011

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.


9 responses to “An Offer on the Table”

  1. Avatar Susan says:

    Excellent advice. It is important to remember that it is not just the size of the publisher, but the amount of support they will be giving your work.

  2. Avatar Anonymous says:

    I must leave this comment as "anon" as I always get kicked out. Florence from Ramblings and thanks for this post. I am submitting to small press with a novella that is more literary fiction and will submit genre fiction to agents or major pubs like Kensington. My reaction to this writer is simply … would it have been a better career move to get published through the small press and then approach agents for another project?

  3. Avatar Danielle says:

    Susan — Great point. Although, we don't know which small publisher she went to, so it's hard to say whether or not using their acceptance just to get ahead is a good move or not. I think it depends on the publisher. But since she now has an Agent, you'd think the agent would be guiding her.

  4. Avatar Julie Daines says:

    Thanks for all this behind the scenes advice from an agent's perspective. It's invaluable.

  5. Avatar girlseeksplace says:

    Just because it's a small publisher doesn't mean they don't deserve the same respect as a bigger publisher. It's definitely time to inform them of your plans and see what your agent has in store. Congrats on finding an agent.

  6. Avatar Anonymous says:

    My question is, why do you want an agent for a small press publisher?

  7. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Jessica, this is amazing…I just happened to check your blog tonight after a long time…and there's my question! You see how long publishing takes? I wrote that question about 7 or 8 months ago! It's so complicated, but I haven't accepted the offer. He eventually told me the offer was open-ended and to take my time, but now I'm not sure I want to go with him at all. I've heard some bad reports about the press. I'm not sure how diligent my agent has been, but we spoke recently, and we've still got a number of editors out there, two exciting ones who have recently requested the book. Working with the agent has been challenging, but I'm optimistic, as we've received some gorgeous pass letters so far, some very close calls. And I've got a famous author who has requested the book for a possible blurb. Can't tell you the whole story, but thanks for answering the question. It's been agonizing actually, but I hope we'll get a positive answer soon. I still can't believe I happened to check your blog tonight.

  8. Good post! Thanks a lot.

  9. Avatar web promo says:

    This is really interesting thing good post. Thanks you for your work!