In October I received a snail-mailed requested proposal for a novel. The proposal arrived at the end of October, so I was still running well within my time schedule when I received an e-mail from the author on the day before Thanksgiving letting me know he had received an offer of representation. Wise author this, he assumed that of course I would want to read the full manuscript and simply attached it for me. Smart, very smart. This author knows he has written a great book (knew that before the offer, in fact) and marketed it to me as a must-see rather than asking if maybe I wanted to read the rest. Get the difference? Strong and assertive makes us want something. The author also gave two weeks' time. I assume this had something to do with the holiday, but also allowed all interested agents plenty of time to get to reading. He probably could have given through the weekend, but why rush everyone if you don’t need to? Again, this was his opportunity to find the perfect agent and he was making sure he had every chance to do so.
It did take me longer than normal to read the material since I was traveling and because I had to think about it long and hard. It was a very, very difficult decision for me. I really, really liked the book and I know that it has huge potential, but I just didn’t think I was the strongest agent for it. I spent a day just processing the book and my role as the agent. Was I selling myself short by not thinking I could do as well with the book as other agents? I don't think so, in fact I don't think I was selling myself short at all. I was being realistic about my abilities. I knew I could get as good a deal as anyone else, but I also knew the book needed some editing before going to publishers and frankly, I wasn't sure I would be able to give the best feedback.
In the end, I needed to keep the author's best interests in mind and I decided to pass. There were five other agents who had offered representation, why throw my hat into the ring just to see what would happen?