Monday, October 01, 2007

When to Tell Agents What

At what point do you notify agents that have partials/fulls out of a publisher's interest in your book? Should you just wait until they make an offer? I have two publishers, one small and one large, that have requested fulls of my manuscript, and both seemed very interested from the phone calls/emails. I also have about eight or nine agents that have fulls/partials of the book. If either publisher makes an offer, I hate to put them on hold while simultaneously scrambling to tell the other publisher and trying to secure representation, but it seems to be the way it is. Is it too early to notify agents? I'm a long-range planner in case you couldn't tell.

Many of you regularly enter contests and get recognition from agents and editors, which is really exciting. My thought is that this can go both ways. Notifying agents that you have interest from publishers who are currently reviewing the full manuscripts can certainly heighten an agent’s interest. After all, an editor has expressed that this is a viable project, so therefore I should take a closer look. With that in mind I would definitely let all, or at least your favorite agents, know what’s going on. It can’t hurt.

On the other hand, sometimes what will happen is that an agent will think, Hmmmm, the author already has it out with publishers, so maybe I’ll sit on it and see what happens. It takes some of the risk out of it for me, and presumably if an offer comes along she’ll get in touch with me to let me know that she has an offer and I can make my bid then. My take is that this agent probably isn’t enthusiastic enough anyway.

As for putting publishers on hold, don’t worry about it in the least. I’ve done numerous posts on this very subject, the most recent being how to handle an unagented offer from a publisher. When that happens, editors expect that you are going to use the opportunity to find yourself an agent and that the agent will use the opportunity to get the best deal possible. While it doesn’t always make them happy, it is part of the business.

My final suggestion: Go ahead and notify the agents of the interest you’re receiving. You don’t need to send out a new email every week, but a short email letting them all know that Julie at Franklin Publishing read the material in a contest and has requested the full manuscript can definitely speed things up and, let’s face it, it can’t really hurt. The worst that happens is you don’t find an agent.



Anonymous said...

Very timely post! In addition to this post, I would read Kristin Nelson's blog on point (end of last week I believe). There was a very big debate on this topic and her opinion seemed to be that alerting agents to other agents having the full is bragging and may cause some agents to chuck your sub altogether.

As for me, I didn't tell any agent anything about what was going on with other agents until I had an offer of representation on the table. Then I emailed or called the rest to let them know. In my mind, an agent having a full didn't mean too much in the grand scheme of things (I'd had plenty of fulls rejected).

Anonymous said...

My only concern is that an author then gets represented by an agent that wants the deal, and not truly vested in them as an author. We discussed that in your other post about agents (which was a fantastic post, btw). I suppose in the end, it's all in where the author is in her career!

Anonymous said...

I've been advised not to alert potential agents that my book has been sent to publishers until an agent has made an offer. Look at it this way--what if you tell an agent that publishers have your manuscript and this agent doesn't take you on as a client because your book has been "shopped" already? If you've sent your book to a publisher and then heard nothing, doesn't that close yet another door for an agent considering offering to represent you?

Aimlesswriter said...

Good post. I'm not sure what I would do. Would telling the agent I have requests lure an agent who just wants an easy score over one who really loved me? I'd probably just wait it out. (My daddy always said, "Keep your ears open and your mouth shut!") Unless there was an agent I'd met a few times and really felt she would like my story. But it would have to be one I felt some kind of connection with.

bob said...

Great post. As far as agents and not wanting to come across as showing off - I would think when you include the sentence "multiple submissions" that an agent would know she/he are not the only one and while that doesn't mean you have offers for partials or full, in your first query/contact that should be fine.

In my case I received an offer by an editor to see the full manuscript. This is the only editor I have contacted/query and I do not yet have an agent.

While it is being reviewed I have received requests for partials from agents I have researched and queried. And each time I give full disclosure on said editor and that it is the only one I've contacted directly however I don't state any other agents requests.

Most of the time it seems after intial query if an agent is interested they often will directly ask you if this manuscript has been shopped to editors (who don't require an agent)and if asked I give an honest answer, but I have yet to see where an agent has asked about other agents.

Did any of that make sense? :o)

Chiron said...

I'm curious about authors who final in a contest and have their entry reviewed by an editor. How does this affect the potential "shopping" factor for the potential agent?

If Agent W loves it, but finds out that Editors X,Y and Z already read the partial as an entry in a contest, will that make a difference?

--Chiron O'Keefe

Karen Duvall said...

It's funny how often we hear about authors who have a publisher's offer on the table, and then assume getting the agent at this point will be a piece of cake. Oh, contrare.

I really, really respect an agent who takes on a project mainly because he or she loves it and sees the author's potential for a successful career. That's the agent I want to work with.

Anonymous said...

"Oh, contrare."

This is a joke, right?