Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Two Agents, One Agency

I have a question I hope you can help me with. After passing on book 1, an agent at an esteemed house offered to consider any future work of mine. I told her about my WIP (book 2), and she said she'd like to see it when the full is ready. Subsequently, another agent at the same house (which allows non-simultaneous queries of its agents) requested a full of book 1, which she still has. It's only been two months since I sent it.

Now, book 2 is about a week away from being query-ready, and it's admittedly much stronger than book 1. I don't want to lose the chance of working with this agency because I'm waiting on a weaker book. Is full disclosure best in this case? Should I send the first agent book 2 with a disclaimer that a colleague is still considering book 1? Or should I status query the second agent, and mention book 2, as well as the outstanding request? Or something entirely different?


Uff-da. This is a tricky one and one of the reasons why BookEnds doesn’t encourage querying multiple agents at the same house. I thought about this for a while and ultimately decided that I think you have two possible options. Of course you might come up with more, but here’s what I’ve determined.

Your first option is to send the first agent a query thanking her of course for her interest and reminding her that she had suggested you requery, and then explain the situation and see what she wants to do. She might simply suggest you contact the second agent since she is already considering book 1. I know that if a situation like that were to occur at BookEnds our advice would be not to have two books out with two agents at the same agency at once, and we would suggest you simply send book 2 to the agent who already has book 1. The only thing you lose here is the possibility of working with the first agent, so, if it’s really important to you, or if your dream is to work with that first agent and you feel you want to give her first dibs (so to speak) I would suggest you move on to option #2.

Option #2 is simply to wait it out. The second agent has had the manuscript for two months, you are still about a week away from querying. Since she’s requested the full I would think you should be hearing at the three-month mark. If not, it’s perfectly appropriate to nag at that point. Start your query process and hold off on that agency for now, but give yourself a deadline. If you haven’t heard from the second agent either by the time their suggested response time is up or in four months (from submission) I would go back to option #1 and see what happens.

Ultimately it sounds like you are in a great place. You are clearly writing work that’s garnering a lot of attention and catching agents’ eyes. In my mind you aren’t going to lose by going with either option #1 or option #2, it really just depends on what feels most comfortable to you.

Good luck!

Jessica

13 comments:

Kimber An said...

I'd go with Option #2. I've had up to three books in Queryland at once and operate on a 'first come, first serve basis.' The agent who requested the first book's full takes priority because that is the first book and because it's a Requested Full. The other agent has simply asked for you to query her with future work. Also, whether the first or second book is stronger is purely subjective.

Anonymous said...

Hey wait a minute. I've been reading about this drama on Absolute Writer. And it just got really interesting because the writer landed an offer with an agent at another agency. So now the agent with the full (who was planning to read it this week) has two weeks to get back to the writer. This is a great example why we're supposed to query widely. And the best part for the writer, the agent who wants to rep the second book, also wants to rep the first one. If only we could all be so lucky.

spyscribbler said...

Oh great news! Good luck, querier! :-)

PurpleClover said...

If she went with option 2, wouldn't there be a bigger issue if the two agents discovered they were considering the same person? I would feel obligated to tell one or the other what is going on. The two agents could possibly decide which one is a better fit to continue on? hmmm...sticky.

But I have no idea. I just wish I was in that situation! ;)

Laurel said...

What a happy problem. I do think the cool thing to do would be to try and make sure each understands no disrespect was intended, it was just a weird circumstance. They're business people. Surely they get that you have to look out for you. albeit in a professional manner.

Here's a thought. You could have them place book two in the middle of the room. Both of them talk to it, call it, coax it. See who it wants to go to.

Anonymous said...

Jessica, thanks so much for answering this for me. What I did was kind of a combination of your two suggestions: I contacted the assistant of the agent still considering my book. He said he'd give her my full (at last!) and touch bases in a week; if she was still considering it, he'd ask for the other book.

But as Anon #1 (who are you??) said, almost immediately after I sent out my first batch of queries for book 2, I got an offer. So I contacted the other agent again, and she's aware of the time constraints. Can't believe it's finally happening!!
::freaks out:::

p.s. Laurel, you just made me laugh out loud.

Leona Bushman said...

Congrats! You must write a query letter that represents your writing well.

Any tips for those of us who turn inti bumbling, non-english, stilted fools when faced with writing query letters and a synopsis? My voice is my character.When I'm forced to use "my" voice to describe my book I fall into a pit of writers block and the end result is worst than essays I wrote in 6th grade!

(I took college level English long before it was popular to do so, and have taken college courses since. Yet, I still use grammatical errors that I don't see until I've sent out 10 queries, LOL)

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one who thinks it's crazy to not accept an offer from someone who wants to rep both of your books? Maybe I'm easy, but if an agent already read and loved both books enough to represent them, I'd take the offer (assuming we clicked during the phone call or whatever). There's a lot to be said for enthusiasm for the projects. I'd wonder how excited the other agent could possibly be if it's taken this long to get to? I know agents are busy, but still...a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, right? Maybe I'll feel different once I hit the query stage...

Anonymous said...

oops - maybe I'll feel differentLY. *sigh* I hate when my grammar slips...

Warren Baldwin said...

Hi,
I've just started reading your blog. There is a lot of information here to catch up on! I also checked out the submissions for books - I want make one to you. I didn't see if there is a particular form or proceudure I am supposed to follow, such as sending a certain number of sample copies?

WB

Juliana Stone said...

Anon, kudos to you! This is totally a prime example on why you should query in batches and widely. Agents expect it. I had a similar experience and had an offer in hand and while I was mulling it over, was contacted by another agent with a request for the full, but when I told this agent I had an offer she asked if she could read it right away, asked how much time I would need and she got back to me the next afternoon, with an offer....I was totally freaked out and luckily, the second offer was from the agent who had been at the top of my list!!!!!!! squeeeeeeee! good luck to you, it's an amazing feeling!

Buffra said...

Warren,

Most of your questions could probably be answered here -- http://www.bookends-inc.com/submit.html -- with the submissions guidelines to the agency.

Good luck!

Sheila Deeth said...

Wish I had such problems... Good luck to the querier, and thanks for the advice.