I just started a new job writing content for a non-profit. This organization sells books and has ties to a privately-owned publisher (both non-fiction and fiction imprints). Because the nature of this organization's work is so wrapped up in publishing and writing, as a content creator, my contract includes a "Right of First Refusal" clause for any books I write (though they seem pretty chill about it).
1) How do I mention this when querying agents?
2) Does this tell agents: "Hey! He writes for a living and has connections with a publisher." Or does it tell them: "This dope signed a dumb contract that limits where I want to send the ms... pass!"
Holy Hosanna! Don't do this again!
You are not an indentured servant here. Work done on your own time should not belong to your employer.
I hope the clause contains a time limit. You show them the work, they have X days to buy it. And please god, I hope the phrase "mutually agreeable terms" appears, or they can buy it for zippo and there's not much you can do about it. It would be nice if it specified what kind of book is covered/not covered as well.
These kinds of clauses are never in the writer's best interest, and even if you employer insists on including one, you should negotiate some modifications.
All that said, you need to get clearance from your employer BEFORE you query.
If I invest five hours in reading your manuscript, another two in talking to you, and however many in writing up notes, I'm going to be HUGELY annoyed if you break the bad news that I can't sell this after I've invested the time.
Get the clearance in writing.
When you sign a trade publishing contract, the warranties clause expressly says you warrant that no one else has claim to this book. The last thing you want is your employer coming out of the woodwork claiming title. And yes, if you have a hit movie based on the book, this kind of stuff happens All The Time.
So, never do this again. Now that you have, get your clearances in order before you query.
In answer to your questions, (1) yes, but you also include that you have a clearance, and (2) the latter, sort of and definitely not the former.
Now, pull up a seat at the bar here cause I think we both need a medicinal beverage after thinking about this.