If you’re a regular blog reader you know by now that I strongly advocate choosing an agent rather than letting an agent choose you. In other words, when you get that offer of representation you should definitely talk to as many agents as possible so that ideally you can choose the agent you would like to hire rather than just going with the one who was fastest on the draw.
But what about if you have publisher interest too? Of course I’ve talked about how to handle a publisher offer of representation and leverage it to get an agent, but if you have a publisher reviewing your work, how should you query agents so when the time comes you can leverage that offer?
In much the same way you query any agency at any point in the process. The difference is that you open your letter by telling agents which publishing house is already reviewing your book and how they came to receive it. Did you query blindly or did the publisher approach you in some way? If you queried them you might want to mention whether or not they are the only house you queried. The risk of course is that there is no guarantee this house will offer, and if they don’t your future agent is going to want room to submit on her own. Honestly, if they do offer, your future agent is going to want to know that she can get your proposal out to other places and hopefully turn it into a bigger offer.
Most agents will jump on the opportunity to consider a proposal that is currently under consideration with a major house. Be wary though because there are a lot of agents who will jump only because it is under consideration. The agent you want sees the possibilities even if this particular house passes and knows that nothing is an easy sale.
All of that being said, I’m sure many others can tell you that interest from a publisher in no way guarantees representation from an agent and I would never advocate going out and submitting wildly under the assumption that interest or an offer from a publisher is the only way you’ll get an agent. Not at all.