Monday, February 15, 2016

A longer quiz! (part one)

Here's a quiz to start your week off:

Scenario One:
You've sent out queries and gotten several requests for full manuscripts. You've sent those out. You've gotten confirmation of receipt. At least one of those receipts mentions the dreaded "wait 90 days before following up".

Then, trumpets sound! Angels arrive! An offer! You're going to have an agent! It's not quite a miracle of course cause that's a Damn Fine Novel, but you're feeling pretty damn good!

What do you do next?
1. Accept the offer (after doing all the stuff you're supposed to about questions and research etc)?
2. Ask for some time to give other agents who've requested fulls time to read?
3. Accept the offer and notify the other agents who've requested fulls that you've accepted the offer and thank them for their time?

Scenario Two:
You've sent out queries and gotten several requests for full manuscripts. You've sent those out. You've gotten confirmation of receipt. At least one of those receipts mentions the dreaded "wait 90 days before following up".

Then, trumpets sound! Angels arrive! An offer! You're going to have an agent!This one IS a miracle because it's absolutely your Dream Agent! Your DREAM AGENT wants YOU!!! You're not just feeling good, you're feeling so good you can leap tall buildings in a single bound.

What do you do next?
1. Accept the offer (this is, after all, Dreamy herself!)
2. Ask for some time to give other agents who've requested fulls time to read?
3. Accept the offer and notify the other agents who've requested fulls that you've accepted the offer and thank them for their time?

 Scenario Three
You've sent out queries and gotten several requests for full manuscripts. You've sent those out. You've gotten confirmation of receipt. At least one of those receipts mentions the dreaded "wait 90 days before following up".

Then, more quickly than you thought possible, less than 30 days later, Angels arrive! An offer! You're going to have an agent! You're so stunned at how quickly this happened that you actually call the library to verify today's date.

What do you do next?
1. Accept the offer (given that you're not supposed to nudge anyone till at least 90 days later)
2. Ask for some time to give other agents who've requested fulls time to read?
3. Accept the offer and notify the other agents who've requested fulls that you've accepted the offer and thank them for their time?

How about I give you some time to chew over your  thoughts in the comment trail before continuing the discussion in a new post that will go up today at noon.


Unknown said...

I would increase my medication. Seriously. I have **whisper** ulcerative colitis.

So angels arriving would need instant pill-popping and an intense outbreak of quivering in corner.

Scenario 1 - option one
Scenario 2 - option one (no doubt wrong but Janet Reid as my agent wouldn't need any further follow up)
Scenario 3 - I forget what scenario 3 was. Doesn't matter now, Janet Reid is my agent.

mhleader said...

Personally, I'd go with CHOICE #2 for all three scenarios. I'd make it a limited-time request (one week? two at most). I'd IMMEDIATELY email the other agents, explain that I have an offer for representation, and give them (slightly less) time to respond if they are also interested. (So, if I ask agent #1 for 2 weeks to think about it and investigate, I'd give the other agents with full mss. maybe 10 days.)

In the meantime, I'd be asking the stellar, wonderful agent who already said yes a ton of questions, checking with current clients, etc. etc. etc. I'd work out what I need to know about this agent, schedule a phone call with them, ask for clients I could contact, etc. etc. etc.

And even if the other agents with my ms. decline to jump on my bandwagon, I wouldn't necessarily say yes to the one who started this whole dog-and-pony show. I want to know whether we're REALLY a good fit before saying yes.

But that's me being cautious. Been around long enough to know that the wrong agent is FAR FAR WORSE than no agent at all. The wrong agent can kill your career.

Laura Mary said...

Scenario One

4) Realise this is all some crazy kale induced dream, and pinch myself to wake up
2) Ask for some time to give other agents time to read AND 2a) notify said agents of the current offer so they can get a move on and read your MS!

Scenario Two
Combination of 2, invented option 2a and 3 – use the extra time to talk to Agent Dreamy and make sure you are definitely a match made in heaven, whilst letting other agents know you may soon be off the market. If no one else bites – accept and withdraw!

Scenario Three
I’m gonna go with the same answer! Let all other agents know you have an offer regardless of how long they have had your manuscript. If no one else shows interest, and the offer looks good – go for it!

Amy Schaefer said...

This quiz is a trick - the answer is always "Ask for some time to give other agents who've requested fulls time to read." And since we're making lists, there are several reasons for that:

a) It is only polite to let agents who have invested time in your manuscript throw their hat in the ring if they so choose.
b) If the offering agent balks at giving you a week or so to make up your mind it tells you something, and you should think carefully on that.
c) You should consider all of your options before signing anything, no matter how dreamy Agent First-With-An-Offer seems. Give yourself a chance to encounter the agent who is most right for you. Consider how they intend to place your book, editorial notes, vision for your career, communication style.

In short, basic manners will rarely steer you wrong. And don't marry the first person who proposes just because you're afraid no one else ever will.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

After peeling myself off the ceiling, after picking my jaw up off the floor, after making sure the email was meant for me, the choice is easy, 2,2,2.
Then I would search for a defibrillator and ask myself, why the blazes didn't you just jump on 1?

french sojourn said...

Scenario One, I would go with option 2;
Because it is a fine piece of literature, it deserves a look by as many people as requested fulls. And dream agent hasn't checked back yet.

Scenario Two, I would go with option 3; A bird in the hand...the Maltese Falcon as it were. But still be polite as I may be darkening their e-mail later.

Scenario Three, I would go with option 2; See first Scenario.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

For all 3 scenarios, I'm inclined to go with #2. Regardless of the 90 day wait, there's a change. You want all of the agents to know there's an offer on the table. So it's polite (especially since it's a Damn Good Novel) to give them a nudge and a chance to offer representation.

But Dream Agent. Oh my. If s/he called, I'd still go with #2 because if someone else wanted to make an offer, I'd want to see how we get along in The Call and determine that my Dream Agent on paper and on the blog, really is MY Dream Agent. After all, this is my professional career and I'm in it for an extended haul.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

ooops, forgot to mention. Nudge and let other agents know, but give a time limit.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Panic. Is that an option? Happy panic? I believe, I would ask for more time in all 3 scenarios, to be polite to all agents who invested time in me, and to calm down long enough to enter into this happy business relationship rationally.

Of course if Janet decided SFF was her new favorite thing and it was her offering, I will need to borrow that defibrillator from Carolynn. And then Janet would be my agent.

At risk of being chased back to Carkoon, if any of these scenarios occur, would it be bad form to email Janet and ask if she knows the agent? Just to make sure the agent is, you know, real and not some jellyfish with a reputation for hanging writers and their dreams out to dry? Or is that a no-no.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

I'm with E.M., but afraid, (I are-a scared little guppy). Is asking Agent Janet an option?

Bonnie Shaljean said...

I haven't yet read the other comments, so as not to be influenced - but I would go with Option 2 in all three cases, even if it was Agent Sharque herself.

I'm hitting the 'submit' button now, so that I can't chicken out and change my comment after seeing the assorted brilliant insights from the rest of the gang.

Anonymous said...

Definitely option #2 for all of the scenarios, although my stages of freaking out would be a different caliber for each (example: S#1 would be bouncing off the walls, S#2 would be bouncing back off the moon, and S#3 would be bouncing my jaw up off the floor).

I would like to add to Amy's excellent list of reasons that #1 really shouldn't be your go-to response in any of these cases. Although Janet frequently screeches at us woodland critters for whimpering about "wasting an agent's time," there's no doubt that it is a waste of time for them to review an MS for possible representation when it's already represented, and the author just didn't have the guts/manners/marbles to let agents with their fulls know it.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

I'd go with number 2 for each, I think. After all, shouldn't every agent you sub to be somebody you dream of working with, and want representation from? Plus, I do see disappointed tweets from agents who go to make an offer....and it became a done deal in the interim.

(Right now I have zero fulls out, just queries, so the competitive field is at the moment narrowed)

(And that r&r to think of)

But, is that why people call the library asking what day it is? How nice to finally find out, and for such a heavenly reason.

Laura Mary said...

Carolynn & EM I don't see why you couldn't ask Janet for a professional opinion, surely that would be part of your research. Calling her at 3am wailing 'what should I doooooooooo?!?!?!' might be overstepping the mark though.

Unknown said...

Option: 2, 2, 2. What happens when a call is set up, and that dream agent isn't so dreamy? What if another agent is equally excited, sets up a call, and you hit it off? I'd say try to control the high buzz from an offer, and choose wisdom for the long road: look at all your options. Maybe there's an agent you didn't consider "top tier" or "dreamy" but has the answers you're looking for and will work like hell to get you where you want to be.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

I'd go with number 2 for each, I think. After all, shouldn't every agent you sub to be somebody you dream of working with, and want representation from? Plus, I do see disappointed tweets from agents who go to make an offer....and it became a done deal in the interim.

(Right now I have zero fulls out, just queries, so the competitive field is at the moment narrowed)

(And that r&r to think of)

But, is that why people call the library asking what day it is? How nice to finally find out, and for such a heavenly reason.

Colin Smith said...

Unlike usual, I'm commenting before reading the preceding comments so as not to be unduly influenced (I'll read them after I've posted this, promise!).

My answer to all three is #2--ask for time. But I wouldn't just ask for time to allow other agents who have requested fulls time to read (having notified those agents that I've had an offer, and I need to respond by x date). I would ask for time so I can take a deep breath and consider the offer. As we've discussed before, this is an important, potentially life-changing decision. Once you have an agent, the dream starts to become more tangible. You start having to deal with deadlines, submissions, publishers, editors, publicity, etc. You want to be sure you're ready, and the offering agent--even if it's your DREAM agent--is the right one for the job. This is not a decision to make in the heat of the moment when you're giddy with excitement and liable to say yes to anything.

Okay, now let's see what you all said... :)

Claire said...

Option 2 each time, I think. And then I'd immediately email each of the other agents who had the full and explain that I had been offered representation. (Including the agent who'd requested 90 days before nudging. If I've got an offer from Agent Dreamy in my inbox after 30 days, I'm not realistically going to wait another two months for Agent McTardy to finish reading.)

Lucie Witt said...

I'm not reading the other comments yet.

I would pick #2 for all scenarios. In my mind you always let anyone with your material know you have an offer. I wouldn't consider the 90 days applicable at that point because this isn't a nudge so much as a heads up. I would even give other agents a chance to respond even with an offer from my dream agent, because I've tried to rid myself of the notion that there is a dream agent. I wouldn't know who could truly best rep my book/career without asking all those questions you're supposed to ask during the offer conversation.

Hermina Boyle said...

Hello! I've been following the Shark's blog for a while. Today (gulp!) I stick my neck out with a comment / questions.

1) Wouldn't you be telling agents at the 'sending out full manuscript' stage that you are sending fulls out to other agents?

a) Wouldn't some agents prefer to have an exclusive review and would pass on your manuscript if they knew it would be considered by other agents?
b) Telling an agent that others are considering your full would also bump up the priority on your manuscript, I think?

So, if you get an offer from an agent:

For all scenarios, research the agent more thoroughly , talk to clients, etc if you haven't already, ask serious questions to determine your fit with the agent. Mull all this for an agreed upon time.

In the meantime, let the other agents know you have an offer of representation and see if you get any more bites. More bites = more research = setting a deadline for yourself to make a decision and letting the other agents know.

It really doesn't matter dream agent or not so dream agent. You need to find someone you can work with best.

OK. did I go over my word limit? Did I suppose to much? Set me straight, wise Reiders!

JeffO said...

To me, the answer is always #2. It's a matter of both courtesy and due diligence.

Colin Smith said...

Hello, Hermina!! I'm going to have a stab at answering your questions. I don't think you need to let other agents know you're sending out fulls unless they ask, though it wouldn't hurt to mention that other agents have your ms for the reason you suggest (bumps it up the priority list, or forces a decision). If an agent asks for an exclusive, I think Janet's advice in the past has been to say NO, but if you do agree to an exclusive, set a time limit. Don't make it open-ended. Even if it's your "Dream Agent." If the agent says no because you won't agree to an exclusive, what does that say about how interested they really are about your work?

Those are my thoughts. Nice to hear from you, Hermina! :)

Mister Furkles said...

Quiz I: Do all the research and questions stuff. Ask for some time to consider. Simultaneously advise those with the full that you have an offer and could they please expedite consideration. Take the best offer; typically that's the agent you expect to have the best relationship with.

Quiz II: Same answer. Unless you know the 'dream' agent personally and know how she handles clients, your dream may only be a dream. Have you ever secured the 'perfect' thing only to be disappointed later? Remember, it's a business relationship; you are not going to rear children together nor share your intimate life with your literary agent.

Quiz III: Same situation. Same answer.

There's an odd thing about literary agents. Unlike the Gambinos they don't employ murderers and they do not wreak violent vengeance on writers who 'nudge' them after fewer than ninety days. Of course, they may ignore you or reject your book but if you have a good offer, it doesn't matter.

Don't let a good offer go because you might get one from your 'dream' agent.

Adib Khorram said...

Option 2 all the way... Always give agents with your full a chance to respond and offer. EVEN if it's your "dream agent." Not only is it good manners, it's good business: what if said "dream agent" jumps off a pier and becomes a mermaid? When you go querying again, do you want to be remembered as the author who handled things politely, or ad the author who burned those bridges down?

Here is my question: what to do with outstanding queries. If an agent has a stated response time (ie NOT "no reponse means no") do you withdraw your queries? Or do you send a notification of offer to those agents as well?

Anonymous said...

Well, given recent events, I'd first assume someone hacked my email and was playing a very cruel joke on me.

In case it isn't, always contact everyone who has the partial or full for me and let them know there's an offer. So, number 2 in all scenarios. It's rude and unprofessional not to. While the agent making the offer may be your dream agent, there might actually be another agent out there who wants to be your partner who is actually better for you.

In the meantime, ask the agent if he or she minds if you contact their clients and visit with them. Make sure you have your list of questions you wish to discuss with the agent. You'll never remember all those questions you want to ask the doctor when you're on your back, staring at the kitten poster on the ceiling.

Anonymous said...

I'll take a stab at Adib's question.

About the queried agents, since there's no established relationship (by which I mean any kind of engagement from their end toward you), then you probably don't need to notify them. They might appreciate the notice so they don't have to read your query, but reading your withdrawal email, then finding your initial query to delete probably takes as long or longer.

If they make a request from the query, inform them at that time that you already have representation.

How'd I do, Reiders?

Anonymous said...


Hello and welcome!

1) Wouldn't you be telling agents at the 'sending out full manuscript' stage that you are sending fulls out to other agents?

No. Not unless they ask. To me it smacks of "read me now or you'll be sorry!" QOTKU may feel differently.

a) Wouldn't some agents prefer to have an exclusive review and would pass on your manuscript if they knew it would be considered by other agents?

Some do. I don't submit to them.

b) Telling an agent that others are considering your full would also bump up the priority on your manuscript, I think?

It might, but probably not. They might also decide they won't waste their time if they can't get to it right away. A request for a full is a long shot from an offer of representation. Consider it a no until you know differently.

Bethany Elizabeth said...

Welcome, Hermina!

My working assumption (I know, I know... assumptions are bad and stuff) is that the 90 day rule is in place to make things easier for the agent, so they (Singular they! Whatup, 2016!) can spend their time doing their job rather than being inundated with "it's been twenty minutes, have you read my MS yet?"

I think it's a letter of the law vs. spirit of the law thing. I would break the no-90 day law with an email that didn't require a response with a polite heads up that I've gotten an offer and the agent has X amount of time before I accept it.

If I were a particularly optimistic and organized person (I'm neither), I might ask when I sent the full if the agent would prefer to be notified prior to the 90 day mark if I received an offer of representation.

Unknown said...

I'm trying to think of a situation where I would not go with 2. Courtesy is very important to me and I would want to give all the agents with the full the courtesy of a weeks notice. I would also want to take the time to check the agents references.

Amy Schaefer said...

I don't think the "90 day nudge" applies when you've had an offer. Surely a prospective agent wants to know that she is about to be pipped at the post. This is a time-sensitive situation, unlike your regular full. I imagine the 90 day guideline just keeps an agent's inbox from filling with more general "Have you read it yet? How about now?" emails.

Anonymous said...

Scenario One: If #1 is Scenario Two, then #1. If not, then #2 until I'm staring into the abyss, then #1.

Scenario Two: #1.

Scenario Three: Get on the phone and check the date, then refer to Scenario One and act accordingly.

In all these scenarios, I would not quit my day job yet.

Colin Smith said...

Adib: I would feel no obligation to inform agents I've only queried (i.e., I haven't sent partials or fulls to them) that I've had a full request or an offer of rep. I would assume every agent understands that's the chance you take when you let the inbox fill up. There will be wonderful queries in there that will be snatched up by other agents by the time you get to them. Of course, if you've only sent out 10 queries by the time you get and accept an offer, there's no reason you couldn't take half an hour to send withdrawal notices to the other 9. But if you've sent out 100 queries, I wouldn't worry about it. Just notify the ones who have partials and fulls.

Unknown said...

I'm commenting without reading all the other comments first.

I know the right answer is 2. You should always offer other agents a chance to read the full they've requested and make an offer if they choose.

However, if you are certain that DREAM AGENT is the one, why ask busy agents to read a MS when you know you're going to turn any other offers down?

AJ Blythe said...

If any of the 3 scenarios above actually happens the reality is my mind will go blank and my mouth will open and close like a lost guppy in the middle of the ocean. Hopefully a friendly shark will swim by and show some teeth to bring me back to my senses. Then I'll ask for some time to give other agents who've requested fulls time to read (#2 for all).

Unknown said...

From my last comment:

"However, if you are certain that DREAM AGENT is the one, why ask busy agents to read a MS when you know you're going to turn any other offers down?"

This is assuming you have spoken to DREAM AGENT on the phone and she shares your vision for the novel, her edit notes are right on target, she clearly loves your writing, and there are no red flags like "no, my other clients are too busy to email with you."

Donnaeve said...

Agree with Amy's take on these. I'm pretty sure we've heard it from QOTKU herself if you have an agent who requested a full contact you because he/she wants to talk about an offer of representation, it's courteous to let the other agents know your ms has "legs." They can pass or have the opportunity to read.

This is also what happens with an ms that's on submission to editors. If an editor is interested and wants to make an offer, it's up to your agent to contact the other editors to basically say the same thing..."hey, read up or pass, this one's got legs."

Man. Pop Quiz on Monday morning? And I almost busted my a** going down the front steps with Little Dog earlier. A glaze of ice over everything.

Welcome to the fun, Hermina!

Anonymous said...

My first response, before reading any other comments, is to pick Option 2 in all three cases. (After hyperventilating, squeeing, and doing a happy-dance, of course.) The more detailed plan is:

Ask offering agent for time to respond. Say, 10 days? If offering agent says no, this is a one-time offer, agree now or forget it, then that's made my choice easy, since I don't want to work with someone like that.

Email everyone with a full (even the don't-talk-to-me-for-90-days people), say I have another offer of representation and need their response in a week. After a week I will either have several offers to play against each other (mmmmm, enjoying THAT dream) or not.

If I accept one of the offers, then I email everyone with a full and withdraw it. If I accept none of the offers, I go back to writing.

Now on to read the other comments, and await the Wisdom of the Shark later today.

Craig F said...

My take:

One: Mix a drink and start writing something else to relax

Two: Mix a drink and write some more to relax

Three: Mix a double and write some more to relax. An offer still isn't the Call it is more like a skunk under the house. The best thing to do is wait to see what happens.

Anonymous said...


I would simply to keep them from wasting time. It's not necessary and probably not expected, but it seems like the polite thing to do.

I'm withdrawing Far Rider from every agent who has it now. The chances are the response would be no anyway, but why waste their time reading a query, partial, or full that is off the market?

Lennon Faris said...

Scenario #1 - none of the above... Let other agents know out of courtesy that you've had an offer for rep. I'm pretty sure that's different than just 'hey how's that reading coming along' type of nudge. You're going to write them anyway (even if you accept first agent's offer), so why not open the door to possibly having more than one offer? I could be wrong but the reason I didn't pick #2 is it seems rude to actually tell the agent that. I'd give the other agents maybe 24 hours? and then if no word I'd prob. accept agent #1.

Scenario #2 - well... probably 1. I do realize it's the wrong answer.

Scenario #3 - I'd go through the same stuff as with Scenario #1, but make sure I ask Janet's "have you read the whole thing" as well as do extra research with this one's clients.

Anonymous said...

Oh, man--- I went back to read the other comments and noticed the subheader. Janet, you are one awesome shark! Yay, Amanda.

To respond to a few other items in the comments:

In Scenario 2, if the agent was Dream Agent before The Call based on other works represented, charming online presence, and delighted endorsements from other clients, AND during The Call you both clicked and all Dream Agent's answers and questions were right on point, I guess it MIGHT be a reason to go for Option 1. I would still go with 2, though, just out of business courtesy. If an agent has just gotten to the last chapter and loves loves loves it, why not let them have the chance to get your suddenly marketable self in their corner? They might turn out to be even better than Dream Agent? [And, yes, I just used the singular "they." It grates on my ear, but I have decided to bow to the reality of the situation.]

Hi, Hermina! As a long-time lurker who just recently started commenting myself, I can say it's fine out here. This is such a nice corner of the Interwebz - raucous and feisty, sometimes, as the subheader indicates, but fundamentally welcoming and caring.

Celia (aka WordWacker)

Matt Adams said...

I'm assuming that the calls went fine, and each of the three agents said roughly the same thing about how they work and how much they love the book, and in all thee scenarios the agents gave the right and correct answers to whatever you'r looking for.

So, for Scenarios One and Three, I'd go with answer 2, but ignore this silly 90 days stuff and give them two weeks (or one if you're as nervous as I was)

For Scenario Two, assuming your reasons for wanting Dream Agent are sincere and well-minded, I'd do #3, because you're going to end up with Dream Agent anyway, and there's no pixie dust that another agent is going to offer you to make them look better.

I do think you need to reward the person who saw your brilliance first, so they -- to me -- get the benefit of the doubt. If all other things are equal, I'd go with the one who picked you out of the ether instead of having to be reminded that they asked for your book. I do not think #3 is a wrong answer to any of these scenarios, but prudence probably suggests that you let everyone else have a small window to see if they love you, too. But only maybe.

Bethany Elizabeth said...

P.S. - Yay for this week's subheader!

Lennon Faris said...

Reading through comments now - I'd really like to add my voice to the 'is it appropriate to (privately) ask the QOTKU about a particular agent?' Or is that completely overstepping boundaries?

BTW, welcome, Hermina! You had some great questions.

Brigid said...

In order: #2, #3, #2. In general it's best for me to have time to breathe and make a decision, so that I can go with "the best-fitting agent for me" rather than "any agent. even that one guy. now please." If those other agents don't offer representation, great, I'll gladly go with the first one (whom presumably I've researched enough to know that they're well-respected and can imitate sanity and actually sell stuff), once the appropriate research questions have been asked and we "click" well enough to have a business relationship.

But for my dream agent, the one whose blog I read daily and whose tweets I favorite and whose sense of humor seems perfect and who just strikes me as someone delightful to do business with...honestly, due diligence and all that first, but then I'd thank the other agents for their consideration and sign on the dotted line.

Unknown said...

Hi everybody! I've been lurking for ages so I feel like I know you all but I'm usually too late to the party to join in the commenting.

I'd go with #2 in all scenarios. I do copious amounts of agent research (Ask me! I'm like a human QueryTracker!), but I don't believe there's such a thing as a "Dream Agent." There are lots of great agents but I won't know who is the right agent for ME until we talk turkey about MY career. I'd ask for two weeks and give the other agents ten days so that I'd have some time to sort through my thoughts before I respond.

I'd even notify some agents I'd only queried if I really wanted them to consider me at this point, because why not.

This isn't a nudge. It's a notification of change in status. Every agent I've ever heard talk about this says they'd like to know, and I think it's only polite. Some even say it when they request the full. It's the professional thing but it's also in my best interest, and if I'm not putting my career first at this stage, then I'm asking for trouble.

Cindy C said...

Oh lord, a quiz on Monday morning! (And I just finished grading quizzes minutes before logging on here, so this is a lot of quizzing for me and it's not even noon yet!)

My answer would be the same for all three scenarios, which makes me wonder if this is a trick question. I'd go for #2 and ask for time to let other agents who've requested fulls have time to read. But I'd be clear about how much time I was asking for. How much time should I ask for?

Megan V said...

My answer would be a sort of modified #2 for all three scenarios.

If I'm still interested in offer after asking all of the right questions during the offer conversation:

a. I'd ask for approximately ten days to consider the offer (so that I can line up my ducks and chat with agent's current clients if I haven't already) and give others a chance to read;
b. Immediately notify all of the other agents I've queried, and who haven't sent a rejection or have a query that's reached their NORMAN deadline, that an offer is on the table. As others have mentioned, this isn't a nudge, this is a notification of a change in the MS status.
c. Thank all the agents for their time and notify them of my decision!

Colin Smith said...

Hey there, Lily Mars! Nice to have you around. :D

To the question whether it's okay to ask Janet about other agents, I wouldn't go there. As Janet has said more than once, the agenting community is fairly close-knit. They talk. And while Janet may have misgivings about some agents, I wouldn't expect her to dish dirt on her colleagues in the biz unless they were really crooked and corrupt and deserved to be "outed." And then I would expect a blog rant. The fact she rarely, if ever does that (in fact, I can't remember a time where she has publicly excoriated another agent), perhaps indicates her attitude.

There are plenty of places online where you can check out the credibility of agents (e.g., Preditors and Editors).

Unknown said...

I was also in the 2-on-all camp.

One thing I have wondered is if some agents deliberately do not respond to queries where they are on the fence, thinking that they will have the option to read the manuscript later if someone else makes an offer. Seems like this would not be totally fair to other agents, and maybe a reason to give at least some preference to the first agent who picks a query/manuscript out of a crowded room? (Subject to due diligence and other indicators of a good match, of course.)

John Frain said...

For me, scenario 2 and 3 are identical with a little bit of time added so they get identical answers.

Scenario 1: Option 2, alert other agents who have requested a full.

Scenarios 2 & 3: Option 3, accept offer and notify others. (I had already answer scenario 2 as a caveat of scenario 1 before even reading the separate scenario.)

Quick logic: I'd only be wasting other people's time if I gave them 10 days and then accepted Dream Agent anyway, which is what would happen, so why give them 10 days. I can't imagine a scenario where they could come back with a better offer. What would they say, we'll drop our commission to 11%?

If you get what you want, move forward.

literary_lottie said...

Tricky, tricky. But I chose #2 for all three scenarios, for a couple of reasons. One - you should never accept an offer for representation right off the bat! Always asks questions of agents, get permission to talk to clients, get a feel for if your working styles would be compatible, etc, before accepting an offer. Two - it's just polite to the other agents who have your manuscript, and who may have already started reading it. Give them a chance to finish (or start, for those slacker agents), and, if said MS knocks their socks off, pitch you on why they and not Agent #1 would be the perfect fit. Even if you think Agent #1 is your Dream Agent, you may find that another agent has a better feel for your manuscript, or is more in tune with your career goals.

I admit the admonishment "wait 90 days before following up" is a little scary, but surely this is an exception.

Sara Halle said...

If an agent wants to represent me, I first go to Janet's blog posts with questions to ask an agent so I can make sure the prospective agent and I are on the same page and will be a good fit.

If the agent doesn't seem right for me, I say, "No, thank you," and continue waiting for other agents.

If I think I could work with this agent, I ask for time and then contact others with fulls to let them decide if they want to read the full more quickly.

If it's Dreamy and I'm absolutely positive I could never do better, I contact others with fulls so they don't waste their time reading when I've signed with someone else.

Jenz said...

+1 to Amy for nailing the correct answer (#2) and the reasons why.

Those of you saying you'd accept Dream Agent immediately are still buying into the Dream Agent fallacy. It's like seeing a celebrity on TV and thinking they would be Dream Spouse. If your conversation with Dream Agent goes well, awesome. Amy's reasoning in the propriety of this is still unassailable.

Adib Khorram said...

Julie: That was kind of my feeling as well—lately I've read more than one agent lamenting on Twitter about reading a query and getting excited only to find out it was already represented.

Then again, maybe that's just part of the business?

BJ Muntain said...

Scenario 1: Probably #2, though do you have to ask for that time? Wouldn't you just ask for some time to make your decision?

Scenario 2: Probably #3. If this is the agent you want, why waste the other agents' time by giving them a 'chance' that they're not going to get?

Scenario 3: I don't see how this is different from the others. The nudging time is for follow-up - that is, asking if the manuscript has been read. It has nothing to do with telling an agent you have an offer on the table and giving them a chance to read.

(Note - I posted before seeing other replies. I'll see what others say now.)

E.M. Goldsmith said...

As for asking Janet, I know Colin is right. I can't see Janet excoriating another agent. Ever. I was thinking more in the line of what if you had to choose between agents. It seems when it rains, it pours- so it is feasible that a writer with a gem of a novel might get multiple offers from any of these scenarios.

If my current situation turned into offers from my R&R agent, the agent that has my current full, the one waiting on the full, and the dream agent who is mulling over a partial- I'd freeze like a deer in the headlights.

It would be so hard to choose. My head would say dream agent (the one with the partial) with big stable of A list SFF writers. He knows my genre. I assume he has close relationships with editors at the best publishers for my genre. My heart would say my R&R agent because she has been so generous and patient with me. However, her speciality is non-fiction. In fact, she is not taking any fiction queries at all right now. Not sure that matters. It may just be the way she wants to grow her talent list and she feels she has enough fiction authors in her stable. I would ask at the call. The other two include a relatively new agent building her list and agency but she is coming out of a big five publisher. The other is another junior agent but with a big, established agency. Any of them would be worthy agents I am sure.

To be clear, this has NOT happened, most likely it will not for me. I think I still have a bit of a journey to go. I intend to keep querying after R&R is fully done. I am just war gaming the scenarios out to nth degree for myself.

If this kind of thing happened, how would a writer choose? Would it be totally wrong to ask Janet's advice? It's such a big decision, and no sensible writer wants any bad blood with any reputable agent.

Colin Smith said...

EM: If I had two or three great agents offering, I would LOVE to write them and say:

"Okay, Janet, Jessica, Barbara, you've all offered representation, and I really don't know which to choose. So tell me, why should I pick you over your other two colleagues?"

I'm not saying I WOULD do this, or that this would be the right thing to do. But it would be fun to see how agents would vie for a client like this.

Or we could start doing Agent Hunger Games. ;)

BJ Muntain said...

Some places to check when researching an agent (to see if they're for real or not):

Preditors & Editors

Absolute Write Water Cooler

Writer Beware

Though you would want to check these *before* querying an agent. Don't wait until they make an offer.

Note re: my choice for #1 for Scenario 2: If I've received an offer of representation, I would assume that we've already had 'the call' and had determined we would be a good fit. I would also assume that 'having time to think it over' is also a given. If it's with Dream Agent, why wait before letting other agents know?

And yes, as Julie said, always let the other agents with full mss know there's an offer. Or that you've accepted an offer. But that doesn't mean you have to 'allow them time to read' if you're pretty sure you're going with Dream Agent.

Colin Smith said...

Part Two of the Quiz Post is up. How did you do? :)

Joseph S. said...

I'm a contrarian and I know I hate working my way up the prestige wall.

so 3-3-3

As long as I feel good about the first agent I'd go with her/him. If I had bad vibes then 2.

I know it's not the way to go. But I have a history of doing that with journal articles.

Who's to know which agent will be my best fit. It's a crap shoot.

I may get only one offer,

Anonymous said...


It may be part of the business, but it's a crappy part of the business to forget there are still people on the other end of our dealings. Writers complain about no response means no reply and yet we feel it's just part of the business to not be professional ourselves?

Yes, I realize most agents wouldn't expect it, but for me, I'll very politely notify agents so they don't potentially get interested in something that isn't available.

This is certainly a personal decision, and probably the wrong one. I doubt many will agree with me.

Anonymous said...

In other news, Canada is apparently closed for Family Day.

Adib Khorram said...

Julie, that's how I feel, too. My desire to be polite is constantly at war with my desire not to gum up people's inboxes.

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

(note: haven't read Quiz #2 yet. That might have some impact on my answer, or strengthen it.)

I'm an Answer #2 sort of gal. If I'm courting several dream agents who have been romanced by my excellent query letter into requesting fulls and one of them happens to offer before the others, yes, I'd let Offering Agent know I have a few other fulls out and I'd let the other full-holding agents know I have an offer.

If Dream Agent #1 was the one to make an offer, I am tempted by Answer #1, but I believe it wouldn't be professional to take this offer without notifying the other full-holding agents that this was a possibility.

Dream Agent #1 is DA#1 because I've been able to find answers to my "What I Need in an Agent" List. Dream Agents #2 and #3 (yes, I have more than one) also tick off that info, to a certain degree.

But not every agent has made public the info I need to know to auto-qualify them as a Dream Agent. For all I know, Dream Agent #9 might be the perfect match for me, so much so that she could very well supplant DA#1 after a few well-placed phone calls.

This is why I would choose Answer #2 for Scenario #2.

Now, an offer of representation is not a five-second question out of the blue. From what others told me, it's not a surprise phone call either. (Granted, most of whom I've been talking to this week are Australian authors, whose business hours are diametrically opposite those of most agents.)

It's not like Dreamy Agent #1 is going to show up in my inbox at 5am with an offer of rep that I must answer within ten seconds. It is going to be a conversation over the course of a few days as she susses me out. In fact, she may open with, "I'm considering making an offer" and the actual Offer might not come until a week or longer down the track.

Yes, an offer for an offer. It's like a promissory ring--engaged to be engaged.

It would be during this time I let other agents know that someone is interested. If they're interested enough in my query to request a full, they may be interested in bumping my brilliant novel up to the top of their queue. It's only professional to give them that opportunity.

Now to go read Quiz #2 and see what other aspects Her Sharkness would have us consider.

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

Am thinking: for those who are clever enough to tap into the fount of Sharkly wisdom, we're receiving some really good training in how to be a good client.

I appreciate it very much. This will bode me well in the future.

And yes, should Dream Agent #1 come calling with offery noises, there would be some squeeing, but I wouldn't be a stunned mullet about it. I've been working hard for decades to get to this point. I'm expecting this to happen.

Panda in Chief said...

Yep, I'm singing along with the choir.
I had thought that maybe there was an option 4, since it wasn't really spelled out this way, but mostly everyone filled in the option #2 with what I would think of option 4. I would take that week or two to both let the other agents with full or partial ms know that I had an offer, and they had one week to let me know if they were still interested, and also to have "The Call" with the agent to make sure we were as much kindred spirits talking as we looked on paper. Also to see if I could talk to one or three of the agents current clients.

And as several people have said, we would have done our research on whether an agent was legit or not BEFORE we started querying them, plus naturally we would have been lurking in the shadows on their twitter feeds.

Completely off topic, but. I found a book called "Evil Librarian"... it is YA and really funny.

Not to go off to take the second part of the quiz. Not surprised to see that so many of the Reiders gave such sensible answers. See? We have been paying attention!