You Got an Agent Offer… Now What?

So, my last post was stupidly popular, and I’m… I’m honestly not really sure how I’m going to top it.

But naturally, I’m going to try by writing a super long, very wordy post!! 😀

Who here knows what happens after you sign with a literary agent?

You get The Call. You ask your questions. You graciously thank them for the offer, then request a week or two to think it over. And then you frantically send email after email to any agent already considering your novel (this includes unanswered queries all the way to requested fulls). At the end of your deadline, you weigh the pros and cons of your original agent (and if you’re lucky, a few other agents), and make your decision.

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What an agent SHOULD say during The Call!

But how do you decide if an agent’s right for you?

First off, I’m going to reiterate that finding a literary agent is a business arrangement. Which means that, as their potential client, you’re interviewing them JUST as much as they’re interviewing you. You’ve presented a novel that could make you both lots of money. They liked it. It’s an even playing field. An agent will not revoke their offer if you ask questions. 

So take advantage of The Call. Here’s what I asked, compiled from websites like this, this, and this. I’ve had these questions on my phone since my first full request back in January 2017.

 

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I knew after my second question that Kaitlyn was the agent for me. 🙂 She was excited about my book, mentioned three of my top-choice publishing houses, and answered every other question with enthusiasm. And then she transferred me to Marisa, who happily responded to the more technical questions Kaitlyn wasn’t sure about. By the time I hung up with both of them, I knew lots about their agency and agenting style. Such as:

  1. They’re both incredibly willing to coach me through this unknown process, and they never made me feel stupid for asking more questions.
  2. They’re fabulous complements to each other, and to me. Kaitlyn is an editor, and a damn good one at that (I did an R&R with her before the offer, so I knew this firsthand). Marisa owns the agency, but she’s also a lawyer, so she excels at the technical details of a contract… which means she’ll be an excellent advocate during the submission process.
  3. Their agency is like one big family, with a facebook page and a big Twitter celebration and an email blast to all the other agents about newly signed authors, which told me:
    1. I’d get to join this awesome community of people equally passionate about writing and publishing.
    2. Kaitlyn (as a apprentice agent) and I (as a newly signed author) will have an excellent support system as we enter the scary world of submissions.

After I hung up, I knew I would accept their offer. Two agents is such a lucky break, especially with the experience they’re bringing to the table! But let’s say you’re not so confident about your potential agent after The Call.

Well, then it’s time for step two. Sending out emails. So. Many. Emails.

I nudged about 35 agents that day. (The number’s blurry because I did it over two email addresses.) And this is unconventional, but I emailed literally any agent who didn’t write me to specifically say they were passing. So I had queries from like, March, that got follow-ups.

A lot of the agents didn’t get back to me.

And a lot more did.

 

(If you thought it was hard getting rejections over months and years, try getting like, 25 in a week.)

I asked for 2 weeks during The Call, and gave these other agents 10 days to make their decision. I’m still getting emails from agents who didn’t make the deadline. But in the end, everyone bowed out. (So if you’re thinking about lying to agents about getting an offer, don’t. You’re just hurting your chances. Most of them couldn’t meet my deadline, and almost everyone wanted to know the agent who offered.)

But I wasn’t upset. I was already in love with Kaitlyn and Marisa, so I happily emailed them to accept their offer!

But let’s keep going with the hypothetical scenario; let’s say you get multiple offers from awesome agents. Well, you endure The Call, over and over. And hopefully after talking with a lot of them, you get that warm, fuzzy feeling I did after speaking with my agents. But if you don’t… then you have another hard choice to make.

So, two options:

  1. You accept an agent you may not like, just because they’re the first ones to say “yes.”
  2. Or you turn them ALL down and continue querying with a new book.

That’s right. I said it. YOU CAN SAY NO TO OFFERING AGENTS.

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Blasphemy, right? You spend so many years querying agents and being rejected that it’s hard to imagine turning down an offer. But sometimes that’s the best option. I’ll back it up, again, with my own experience.

As a flight attendant, my dream is to see my book in airport bookstores. I’d freaking flip. But I knew that the best chance for that is a top-tier publisher. And honestly, not every agent can get me there.

When you’re weighing an offer, you have to consider your goals. If this agent doesn’t know anyone in the Big 5, she’ll have a hard time pitching your book to editors there. Or worse, what if she doesn’t think your book can sell to the Big 5?

Think about that for a minute. If these agents aren’t mentioning top-tier publishers, either she doesn’t have the connections, or she doesn’t believe your book is Big 5 material. I’m gonna say this once, and mean it: you should NEVER settle for an agent who doesn’t believe in your full potential.  

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This was the biggest reason I fell in love with Kaitlyn. Right away, she talked about sending my book to the Disney Publishing Company. She specifically told me, “I think it’d be an awesome movie. So visual. Very Disney.”

An awesome movie. Kaitlyn was already thinking about movies of my books, and she hadn’t even signed me yet. THAT’S how you tell an amazing agent. Movies are SO far in the future, but if you don’t aim for the stars, you’ll never leave the ground.

I hope that helps some of you prepare for this tough decision… although fingers crossed your choice is as easy as mine!

But if it’s not, don’t be afraid to weigh the offer and reject. An agent is a big commitment. There’s nothing wrong with a polite email declining their offer… then you take a night, drink some wine, and get started on an even bigger, better manuscript!!

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Would you turn down an agent? Are you intimidated by this after-offer process? Talk to me below, or as always, you can DM or email me to chat! It was amazing to hear from everyone after my last post! ❤

(Also! I made an Instagram to document what happens as I finish HARBINGER’s edits and go on submission. Feel free to follow me! 😀 )

4 thoughts on “You Got an Agent Offer… Now What?

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