Monday, January 09, 2012

So, You've Got an Offer . . .

So, you've got an offer . . . but what if you've already been rejected by agents all over town?

I was going to leave this as a comment on your post "You Have an Offer" but decided to email you instead...

What if you've been rejected (or just not heard back from... no answer means no) by pretty much every agent on your list and THEN get an offer from a publisher? It feels kind of silly to email all the agents who've just told you no thanks and say "I know you didn't want this, but hey! Certain Publisher does, can someone represent me please?"

I'm facing this situation myself at the moment. I spent all last year querying a sci-fi with romantic elements, Atrophy. I got some great rejections, agents who said "I can't take this because it falls right between sci-fi and romance, so don't know what to do with it, but write something else and send me that!"

After I'd pretty much exhausted my list of potential agents, I was given the email address of an editor at HarperVoyager Australia from one of their authors I know and sent a query. The editor got straight back to me and said she wanted to see the first 10 chaps. A few weeks after that, the editor emailed again to say she was enjoying it immensly, there was so many things about it that were great and wanted to see the entire manuscript, plus was going to get another editor to read it as well.

Now, I know this isn't an offer and there's still every chance they could say "thanks, but no." Excpet taking into account how enthusiastic she seemed about it, I've got to consider what I'll do if they offer a contract. Some other published authors have advised me to forget about an agent since I got rejected by so many. If HV offer a contract I should just get a lawyer familiar with this sort of thing and go it without an agent. I now have several books published with Noble Romance Publishing and doing that without an agent it one thing, they're a small press, the contract was pretty straight forward and I was confident having a lawyer look over it and then going ahead on my own. But obviously HarperVoyager are a whole different ball game and honostly, I know that to make the kind of career I want, I need an agent.

So, on the chance HV do offer me a contract, what does an author do who has already been rejected by agents all over town do?

Would really appreciate an answer to this question that has really been stressing me out.

Well, what's interesting is it sounds like you have great feedback from agents who just didn't know where they could take the book, or they didn't feel they had the contacts, or could do you justice because they felt the risk was too big, and, sometimes, agents don't want to get an author's hopes up when they know something is a long shot. What I'd suggest is wait until you have the offer, and when you do, let the editor know that you'd prefer to work with an agent so will need two weeks before you can get back to her. Then I would immediately follow up with those agents you felt you got a good response from. Those agents who sounded very interested in you and your work and, if they asked to see other things, clearly your voice. Let them know you have an offer on that book and ask if they would consider offering representation.

Sure, you could definitely hire a lawyer (make sure it's a literary lawyer, someone who understands the publishing contract), but if you already have agents who are enthusiastic about your voice, this is a good opportunity to start building a relationship. When you interview those agents, really talk to them about their vision for your career, not just their strategy for selling this particular book, although that should be part of the conversation as well.

I hope this helps. It sounds like you've gotten some good news lately so congratulations!