Dealing with multiple offers of representation sounds like a dream come true, right? Except, how do you choose?
There've been some good posts on this topic recently, from BookEnds LLC here, and from Jodi Meadows here
What neither post mentions however is one of the questions you absolutely MUST ask, and will have an impact on your decision: how long are they offering to represent you? Is it for life (as in, there's no automatic end date, but there is a termination clause if either of you want out) or is it for a year, or is it for just this project?
You'll want to know that going in. There's no one right answer. It depends on your project and your professional goals. Mostly I sign people intending to be their agent for the rest of their career. Other agencies sign clients for a year, or for just a single project (particularly for non-fiction.)
This is not something you want to find out the hard way. Ask ahead of time.
janet, i love your blog. this is not something i would have ever considered asking.
Thank you for this. It never occurred to me there would be a time limit.
What would we do without you here to yank us back from the ledge by the scruff of our necks? Make many, many bad decisions, that's what.
Thanks for this.
*awe* Thank you for linking me!
Good point. Thanks for making it. I'm afraid most of us who are still seeking representation might be inclined to jump on the first offer we get without bothering to ask the right questions. (Kinda like me: I darned near bought the first house I looked at .... termites? What termites?) Faced with the prospect of multiple offers, (ohmigod) once we get our heads out of that paper sack and stop hyperventilating, your guidance will help point us in the right direction.
A good idea when fielding offers: Ask to see the agency contract, if they have one. Then, whether there is an agency contract or not, ask to see the agency clause that the agent(s) you're considering inserts into the publishing contract of any deal you sign with a publishing house. You'll want to read BOTH the agency contract AND the agency clause they use in publishing contracts before you sign with the agent so you can ask any questions those contracts and clauses raise and make any necessary changes. That way, both you and the agent are on the same page before you proceed.
Keep sending out these words of wisdom!
I think Susan's analogy of comparing agent representation to owning a house is spot on.
I am starting to look for possible agents. (My book isn't quite ready.) But I hope I won't jump at the first offer and will remember to look at the decision as choosing a relationship. I wouldn't want to be stuck with someone who is too busy to rep me or someone whose personality clashes with mine.
It's so easy to get taken. I'm glad you are out there to help us along.
Good timing, thanks for the tip!
Thank you, this is one thing I have never read among the things to think about when the time comes and the publishing gods smile upon me.
Your blog is a gold mine for writers.
Great advice and that leads me to a question...
Is it proper to mention the length of representation you are looking for in your query or cover letter? Or is that like including how much you want to be paid in the cover letter of your resume when you are applying for an office job?
I can't say AMEN loudly enough to this post. I had four offers of representation when I was querying agents years ago, and I can't tell you how much I wish I'd asked this question initially. It might've saved me the heartache of choosing the wrong agent in the first place and then having to sever ties and crawl back to one of the others (the absolute RIGHT agent for me) begging her to take me on a year later.
Smart, smart, smart(!) question to ask. Definitely something I'm keeping in mind as I'm researching agents.
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