I recently received a query that mentioned an impending offer of representation. Shortly thereafter, a follow up email said the writer did indeed have the offer, but wanted to give me a chance since they liked the cut of my jib.
Well, this ship has sailed, and here's why.
Unless the offering agent has embarked on a three-hour tour aboard the SS Minnow, you're asking me to drop everything I'm doing for the next two days to read and evaluate your manuscript, then talk to you. Trust me when I tell you that is a Very Big Ask.
Aside from the size of that ask, you don't do this is because what you're doing is called shopping the offer and it's considered very bad form. Remember, the purpose of a query letter is two fold: tell me about your novel, and show me you're not an asshat. Shopping an offer is textbook asshat.
So what is shopping an offer?
Shopping an offer is sending initial queries to agents saying "I have an offer/I think I'm getting an offer." Shopping an offer is sending initial queries to agents to see if you can essentially trade up.
Once you've got an offer you stop querying until you've said yes or no to the offer. You notify agents who have the FULL; you notify agents who have had the query for less than 30 days; you do NOT query anyone new.
This means you need to be judicious in who you query first. If your first query is Felix Buttonweezer at Readem, Cheatem and Fleecem LLC, just to test the waters and see if your query is working, and he offers, you're stuck with saying yes or no to him before you query any further.
This is yet another reason you do not NOT NOT query one agent at a time, or offer exclusives. If you get an offer from one agent, you must say yes/no without any further querying.
And I can hear all you devious loophole finders thinking "how the hell will they know??" so I will remind you this is a very small world and many of us know each other. One writer famously shopped an offer from an agent at a writers conference the offering agent's friends were attending. Agents Amused, Confused, and Annoyed watched the author go from agent table to agent table (at pitch sessions) collecting interest like souvenirs. It won't surprise you to learn the initial offer was withdrawn.
Another idiot writer took an offer to a conference, met with several agents without mentioning the offer, only to discover we all knew her because the offering agent had worked on the manuscript in revisions for almost a year and had talked about how much she liked it. Initial offer withdrawn. Subsequent offers not forthcoming. Writer unrepresented to this day.
This is EASY to avoid by behaving like a pro.
And the balm for you: this applies to agents as well. When an editor offers, I'm not allowed to take that offer and start pitching new editors. I let all the editors who already have the project know there's an offer, but I don't pitch new ones. Editors get very crabby if they suspect their offer is being shopped around, and I don't blame them one bit.
What that means for me in terms of strategy is that I pitch my top tier first. And that means I better have my pitch fine-tuned, and the proposal or manuscript in tip top shape before I make that first call.