Friday, November 10, 2017

My Ms got a LOT of interest in #PitchWars


My book got a lot of requests from agents during #PitchWars. I have three offers of rep already, and a dozen other agents still looking at it. I'm excited (duh!) but it's a lot to take in. Be careful what you wish for I guess, but what do I do now?
Huzzah on writing a manuscript that generated that kind of interest. That bodes well for a writing career!

I assume that you want to make writing your career. That means you need an agency that can not only get you a significant deal with a US publisher, but can also sell your work overseas.  An agency that doesn't have the ability to sell foreign rights on your behalf will let the US publisher have world rights and that means less money for you. So ask prospective agents: how do you handle foreign rights?

A publishing deal seems like the final goal right now, but STAYING published is harder than it looks. Ask prospective agents what happens if your book doesn't sell, or your series doesn't do well. In other words, how will they help you pick yourself up and dust yourself off and start again if it all goes to hell (which of course you can't imagine it will, but still, ask.)

Ask how they handle film rights. A lot of agencies have powerhouse books that never get film deals. Film deals are harder (MUCH harder) to get than publishing deals.  Does the agent have film deals for her books?
Agents can drop dead or get hit by the cross-town bus.  You need to know what happens if the agent who love love loves your work is suddenly unavailable. Do other agents at the agency love love love your work? Have you met any of the other agents? This is a hard question to ask, but it's really important.

Are prospective agents asking what you want or just telling you how fabulous they are? A good agent's first question is "what's your goal?" and they talk about how to get there with you.

Most important, if you have a really hot project with this much interest, you want to make sure the agent you sign with can execute a significant deal for you. Look at their website. Do they have authors you've heard of and liked? Check Publishers Marketplace. Have they sold more than one book in a significant deal?  

Then, once your book is sold, what does the agency do to help you find readers?  A lot of promotion falls on the author these days and you're going to need help. How will this agent help you with that.


Some of these are yes/no answers and if you have multiple offers you're going to end up with a lot of agents who all seem pretty good.

Now is when you get into rapport. Did you like her? Have you emailed her other clients to ask about what it's like to work with her? You're at a lovely point in your career where nothing has yet gone wrong. Ask the clients what happens when the fecal matter hits the rotating device. The true measure of an agent is being able to prevent problems, and if problems arise, getting you out of them.

This is a key decision and it's easy to get overwhelmed with choices. You might want to take a second person with you to meetings, or have on the phone just to take notes. You're in a whirlwind right now, but you want to make sure you don't get blown off course.

Good luck, and let us know how it goes, ok?


46 comments:

Kitty said...

How do you define "a significant deal"?

Michelle 4 Laughs said...

Thanks! I've sent this to my mentees from PW for them to read.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Wow, Opie. What a great place to be in. And good questions to ask.

A good column to put in the Treasure Box, Colin? I think I'm remembering right, that there are other blog posts there about questions to ask agents.

Kathy Joyce said...

*happy dance for you* Congratulations!

AJ Blythe said...

Congratulations, OP. I can imagine you don't want to set a foot wrong, but make sure while you stress over the decision, you don't forget to enjoy the moment!

Colin, I second Lisa in asking if you can add to the Treasure Chest, please?

AJ Blythe said...

OT: Attention Flash Fiction writers...Aust. Crime Writers Assoc. sent an email to members regarding a flash fiction contest with some *big* money as the prize (no entry fee). The entry form and information is here

Would love to see a Reider take the prize =)

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Wow, OP, this is a great situation but a bit overwhelming.

I have another question- once the writer does all due diligence and chooses an agent, what is the kindest method, no bridge burning way to reject the other agents? Especially if it comes down to two or three the writer loves equally?

As a writer, I expect rejection but I would not love having to reject an agent if I ever foumd myself in this situation.

BJ Muntain said...

EM: I think the e-mail would go something like this:

Dear Ms. Agentalmostasgood,

Thank you so much for your interest in my work. It was a pleasure to talk to you, and I really enjoyed/loved [something you talked about].

However, I've decided to sign with AgentBest. [I was going to put in a reason, like "I feel our goals are more aligned" or something like that, but nah. It's not necessary, and it may cause a bit of bitterness, as in the agent thinking, "But I can better align my goals!" So, nah.]

Thank you again.

Sincerely,

Extremely-lucky-author-to-have-had-a-choice-of-offers

Adib Khorram said...

Hooray for success problems! Congrats, OP.

And yes, sending rejections to agents is not pleasant. It's hard to say no to someone who loves your work.

Kitty: "Significant deal" is a term from Publisher's Marketplace's breakdown of deal amounts.

Nice deal: $1-50,000
Very nice deal: $50,000-$100,000
Good deal: $100,000-$250,000
Significant deal: $250,000-$500,000
Major deal: $500,000 and up

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I would like a significant deal, please.

Once I finish this revision which is the final revision or I will open a vein I swear.

Heavy sigh.

Kitty said...

Thanks, Adib Khorram.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Thanks, BJ

Kathy Joyce said...

So, what's the relationship between a deal and an advance? It seems like I see a lot of ads for "significant deals," but hear that advances are in the $few-thousand range.

Also, OP, I'm not sure you should mention who you signed with in your kind rejection letters to others. Maybe just, "I've selected another agent, based on my personal goals and expectations." Hard as it might be, I'd avoid adding, "Selecting an agent is a subjective decision, and other writers may have different opinions of your work. Don't give up, and good luck in your agenting career." :)

CynthiaMc said...

Best of luck, OP!

AJ - sounds like fun!

Florida Nano-peeps - Orlando branch is having a write-around Disney day on Sunday. Everywhere they go is free, including parking so you don't need a pass. The idea is to write for an hour or so at one spot (one stop is the Polynesian Hotel) hop on the monorail or bus and do it again. Bring lunch money. I'm sure they're tweeting details. Writing during the week is a bear for me between work and the show so I am going to try to make it.

Happy Friday!

Adib Khorram said...

Kathy Joyce: "Deal" and "advance" are used mostly interchangeably, though "deal" seems to be used more in industry publications. And it's true, the significant deals are the ones that get a lot of press. Those are the outliers; the majority of deals are in the "nice deal" category.

Timothy Lowe said...

Wow, OP - I think I'd be stunned beyond belief. Congrats for sure.

Thanks for the link, AJ. I will definitely enter. I must confess, though, it will be weird without prompt words...

Lisa Bodenheim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
S.D.King said...

A HUGE congratulation to the OP!

My critique partner also received interest from Pitch Wars and it has been a very positive experience for her.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Kathy Joyce and Adib Khorram: Perhaps the difference between advance and deal might be how the money is divvied out? Is the Deal divided into Advances?

Janet had a blogpost here: http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/2016/06/week-in-review-6516.html
about advances being divided into threes (signing, delivery & acceptance of MS, hardcover publication) or fours (the same three plus paperback pub or 12 months after hc pub)

The Noise In Space said...

Wow, massive congrats to the OP! Well done!

So how is everyone's Friday going? I'm in a great mood because I just learned that one of my poems was selected for publication in a literary review for spring 2018, yay! :)

And AJ, thanks for sharing that!

Colin Smith said...

Yay, Opie!!! All this is great stuff from Janet that hopefully will help you seal the deal with the best agent for your book and your career. Indeed, let us know how it goes. :D

I'm sure I can find a home for this in the Treasure Chest. A page of its own? A link on the "Gems" page? Not sure... I'll have to see what we have out there already.

Kathy: I don't think it matters if Opie mentions to "rejected" agents who s/he ends up signing with. Agents know each other, word gets around, and if nothing else, they'll find out eventually through social media or Publisher's Weekly. I'm sure, for example, if I told Janet, "very sorry, but I'm signing with Barbara Poelle," she'll understand that Barbara knows the handbag-eating alcoholic brontosaurus western romance market better than she does, and will probably commend my decision. :)

Colin Smith said...

Noise in Space: Congrats!! Deets please so I can add you to our Published Works list. Yes, poems count, as does flash fiction. If someone has selected your work for publication in their magazine, we want to know. :)

My Friday's just getting going. Last day of my week off. Hoping to hit the 25k mark on my NaNo novel. Can I put in a personal plug for people to follow me on Twitter (@colin_d_smith), or "buddy" me on NaNo (cds) to get progress updates? No? Oh, ok. :)

Nathan Holland said...

Congrats OP. Your hard work has paid off in spades. Janet, this was an excellent response. Your information is very helpful.

Craig F said...

Don't forget to check your prospective agent's Twitter feed. Sometimes you can glean a considerable amount of information from those little rants.

Noise in Space: Congratulations

Happy weekend folks

Gayle said...

Congrats, OP! That's very exciting.

E.M., that's how I feel about the project I was trying to get polished before NaNo started. Can you take a break and work on something else for awhile or would that interrupt your process? (or give you too much time to think about something else to change? That happens to me all the time.)

I've been so relieved to be writing again instead of laboring over word choice and sentence structure, my pace for NaNo is blistering.

Now that I've had a break, I hope when I go back to my polishing, it will be less on the painful side and more on the excited to be almost done side.

Kathy Joyce said...

Congrats Noise! So much nice news today.

Colin, you know publishing better than me. I just remember from my days as a hiring manager that, for people you don't hire, the less said the better. Fewer legal repercussions at the agenting stage of publishing though, (I assume). In any case, good luck OP; it will be a tough message to send. You can do it!

Amy Johnson said...

Wowza, Opie! Congratulations! It was so nice reading your fantastic news. And then you got all that great advice from the Queen. I hope you're savoring all this wonderfulness. As Janet said, please let us know how it goes.

Amy Johnson said...

Congratulations, The Noise in Space! Great news!

Claire Bobrow said...

Congrats, OP, and to you, Noise in Space!

Another great post today - it's going straight to the printer tray and into my newly organized writing binders :-)

Claire AB. said...

Wahoo!!! Congratulations, OP!! And The Noise in Space!! What a happy Friday on The Reef:-)

John Davis Frain said...

This blog reminds me of when I used to live in Lake Wobegon--all the kids are above average. What a happy Friday in the neighborhood, from the post itself to Noise in Space's poem. And I'm sure the many Nano participants are enjoying a modicum of success in their imagination.

Keep up all the great work, kids, right into the weekend!

Kate Larkindale said...

Congratulations OP! What a nice dilemma to have. And congratulations to Noise in Space too! What a nice way to end the week.

Julie Weathers said...

Wow, what a wonderful problem to have. Congratulations to OP and another salute to Noise. I knew I should have bought beer yesterday instead of that boring old milk. Ah, well, here's a hot chocolate toast to you.

I can't even imagine being in OP's shoes. Seriously, I can't.

Joseph Snoe said...

I love good news, and Poster's experience is about as good as it gets. Congratulations, and thanks (And wishing you wisdom in your final choice).

The optimist in me saved today's column in case I need it in the future.

Karen McCoy said...

E.M. Yup, I'm there too. Your post reminded me ofthis mug. Remember, every time we try something, we are getting better...not failing to be perfect.

Donnaeve said...

Good googly moogly, OP! That's what I'd call a pinch me! dream sequence we don't want to wake up from!

What's always cool is to know...these things actually do happen.

I can literally see this having the same enthusiasm with editors, so better get those asbestos pants ready for when your agent emails (or calls) and says, "it's going to auction..."

Whew! Like Janet says, we wanna know what happens, so keep us posted!

Congrats to Noise in Space on the soon to be publication of your poem!

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Karen I literally have that very mug

Megan V said...

Congrats OP!

And congrats Noise in Space!

Good news all around :)

Lennon Faris said...

Wow, congrats, OP! And Noise!

I'm going to join Julie and guzzle chocolate in honor of you all.

Jen said...

Congrats OP! :)

Ginger Mollymarilyn said...

Congratulations, OP!! What a lovely problem to have, yet a very loaded one. With Janet's advice, I'm sure you'll pick the right one.

Congratulations, Noise In Space!

kdjames.com said...

Wow! Congrats, OP, this news is so good it's expialidocious (sorry, I've had that song stuck in my head for two days now). I'm curious about something, though (and I hope you won't mind "outing" yourself to answer it, or can manage it anonymously): What was your query process like before participating in PitchWars? Had you been querying with little success? Or did you do this instead of querying? I guess I can't help wondering whether this has become a more effective means of telling agents about our work. Either way, good luck in the next steps and with all the decisions you'll be making along the way!

Congrats to you as well, Noise In Space!

Great way to end the week.

kdjames.com said...

Dear OP, PLEASE ignore the part of my comment above where I suggest you should reveal your identity in a public forum while you're in the middle of sensitive negotiations about your career, just to satisfy my stupid curiosity. DON'T DO THAT. My question/suggestion was inappropriate and thoughtless and I apologize.

I will now go sit in the corner and try to remember to THINK before I speak. Er, write. Where is that dunce cap, anyway . . .

Beth Carpenter said...

Congratulations, Noise In Space. And OP, I'm so excited for you. Good luck in making your decision and selling your obviously wonderful story.

Panda in Chief said...

Congratulations OP! I'm sure you'll make a good choice, especially armed with all these questions to ask. Let us know who you are once you've signed!

The Noise In Space said...

Thank you, all! Colin, it's the Spring 2018 edition of The New Literati review, out at the end of March. :) It's a brand new review that's launching in January, so if anyone else is sitting on something they're itching to submit, I'd send it their way. They haven't built up a readership yet so I'd guess your odds are pretty good (I mean, shoot, they accepted mine, so...)