Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Offer of Representation – What the Hell Do I Do Now?

You’ve sent out your full manuscript to an interested agent and you get an email back. They love your work and want to speak with you on the phone, or maybe they offer you representation right there and then.

So what do you do now? Well, you can do your happy dance and jump at the opportunity, or you can take a deep breath and think about things. Was this agent your first choice? Who else has a full? A partial?

The polite and professional thing to do is to speak with the agent (tomorrow I’ll talk about “the call”) but tell them you need a week or two to decide. Then alert all the agents who have a full or partial that you’ve received an offer of representation and would like to give them the opportunity to finish your manuscript before you make your final decision. Give them a time frame. Two weeks is probably the most you want to keep the original agent waiting.

A couple of things could happen. 1) They can say that they are still interested and would like some time to finish. Once you let them know someone else is interested, they’ll put your manuscript to the top of their list. Or 2) They’ll pass because they don’t have the time or do not want to get into an agent race.

Once they read the manuscript, they still might pass, but it’s good to keep your options open. An agent may ask who made the original offer. This may seem rude, but really, they just want to know who their competition is and that you’re not being scammed by a fake agent. I would say tell them. There’s no reason not to.

Even if you loved that original agent, speak to each one who wants to represent you. There’s a tendency to go with the first agent who shows interest, but it’s good for you, as a writer, to hear what multiple agents have to say. I actually went with the last agent I spoke with. You never know who is going to be best for you until you weigh all your options.

Tomorrow – The Call - What to ask and what to know


  1. I still remember experiencing this. I was sick to my stomach for days because I was so nervous. It's one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

  2. I know...the week that I chose my agent was one of the most difficult of my life...but in a good way, if that's possible.

  3. Thanks for this... the desire to say "YES!" to the first agent is so strong it creates a knot in the stomach to say, "Can I have a week?" It's a huge decision and could mean the difference between getting a contract with one of the big boys or not. Cool heads must prevail!

  4. Great advice, thanks for sharing.


  5. Awesome tips! Would you notify the other agents via email or phone? I've always wondered this.

  6. By email...I wrote about it here:

    Hope the info is helpful!

  7. I have a question--you say to only notify the agents who've asked for a partial or a full that you got an offer. I've heard this before, but I just wondered, why not inform the agents you've queried who haven't had time to request a partial or a full yet? If you receive an offer, and have queried a bunch of agents in the past couple days who might not have considered your query yet, is it OK to inform them of your offer of representation in hope of getting them interested, even if they haven't requested a partial or a full?

  8. Hi Stephanie,

    Usually you would only notify the ones who have requested because those are the ones who have showed an interest and who it is proffesional to notify. If there is a particular agent who hasn't requested a partial but is your number one agent that you would absolutely love to have, it would probably be okay to send them an email in the hopes that they get back to you.

    The reason why you don't inform all the agents that haven't responded is because not all agents respond with a no. They just delete the queries (or toss) the ones they're not interested in. If this is your first offer (and only offer so far), and you've only been querying a couple of days, it's not strange to ask the agent to wait a couple of weeks. Maybe more will get back to you in that time. It's a hard game to play, but you don't want to accept an offer from an agent you are unsure of, only to regret it later.

    Gee, I hope my long ass reply was helpful :)

    Did you get an offer? I read your query and your story sounds really interesting! Good luck!

  9. Thanks, that makes a lot of sense! I've gotten a couple requests for fulls and one for a partial--and the waiting is KILLING me. No offers or feedback yet, but it's been the holidays so I expect they've all been on vacation. I'm just trying to prepare myself for the (hopeful) next step!

  10. Oh man, the waiting is the hardest part. I know your pain...but it's all part of the process.

    Congrats on your requests. You must be super excited! Best of luck. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you!

  11. Thanks! Crossed fingers are much appreciated!