I have a R&R from an editor at a small but well respected publisher. The R&R involved a formal edit letter and a significant rewrite (exclusive for a period of time after resubmitted).
I plan to query agents if offered a deal. (A)
I know when I query an agent I intend to say: (1) I want to work with you for this book and hopefully many books to come, and (2) I have a deal in hand, and I want you to tell me if it's a good one.
But is this what a query in this situation says to the agent? Or does it say "I have this offer and I'm taking it," i.e., if the agent doesn't think it's a good offer, they would pass on the book? What would an agent do if they loved the book but not the deal? Or if they immediately thought of another editor that was looking for something just like it?
It seems like the morally right thing to do is stick with the editor who believed in the book and took the time to write an edit letter, shaping the book into something new, improved, and more publishable. But that happens before I ever see a contract, which is what makes committing to an editor after the R&R really different from committing to an agent (I also wish I'd thought about how much this would put me on the hamster wheel before I said yes).
I want to be both a good person and a smart person about this, and right now I don't feel like I know how to be either. I care about a career as a writer, not just one book deal, and I definitely don't want to screw up my one shot as a debut author.
If there is any insight you can provide into how the agent on the receiving end approaches this, it would be very much appreciated.
You didn't mention how long the exclusivity with the publisher is. I hope it's not long. The other thing you want to remember is that the exclusivity is with publishers, not agents.
Once you finish that revision, get querying. You want an agent in hand
For starters: time. When the publisher makes an offer, you'll have a week or two at the most to say yes or no. If you're just STARTING to query then, you don't have time for an agent to read the manuscript and reply, let alone assess the viability of the agent (yesterday's post.)
You show up with a manuscript I need to read overnight (cause that's what this is on this kind of timeline) and the chances I will pass go up exponentially. Particularly if the offer is from a small press (less money etc.)
Start querying NOW. Tell the agents the manuscript is undergoing an R&R with ShinyTiny&Nice, and there's an exclusivity period.
Agents who are interested in your work can help you assess what to do next.
You want to give an agent as much flexibility as possible so you don't end up in some sort of pickle.
(yes, there was a different picture earlier. More on that in the WIR)