Tag Archives: offer of representation

When multiple agents make an offer

29 Nov

by Susan Dennard


Goofy and I are back to wrap up our last post: When an agent requests your manuscript.  So please, put on your imagination caps (or Disney caps — whatever), and imagine the snide voice-over yet again!

Also, if you want to see how I (Susan, not snide narrator) actually handled the Great Agent Hunt — from query prep, to querying, to offers, to choosing — I’m talking about it this week on my blog. 🙂

Now onwards!


I gart too many choices...

Agents!  Everyone wants one, but no one can seem to find them.  More elusive than a bird-of-paradise, and even easier to scare off for good.  Demand far outweighs supply.

Except when it doesn’t.

More and more often these days, when a writer gets an offer, they wind up with several offers.  >1 agent wants to get their hands on the manuscript because it’s a darn good story, it’s well-written, and it’s highly commercial.

So what do you do in this situation?  How the heck do you choose just one?

First Things First

First, make sure that you have notified all other agents in possession of the manuscript and given them a response-deadline (see When an agent requests your manuscript to learn how).

Second, DO NOT REFUSE ANYONE before the time is up OR before all agents have responded.  You may, of course, make a decision, but don’t notify anyone until you’ve reached your deadline or all agents have said yay/nay.  Again, this is described in more depth in When an agent requests your manuscript.

Now onto the Famous Call.

What To Ask During The Call

Be sure to gargle plenty of salt water and practice your phone-voice.  You want to make your best impression, after all.  And also, be sure to avoid phrases like, “Garsh” or “Huh-hyuck.”  These do not give off an impression of intelligence.

Prior to the call, you should prepare a series of questions to give each agent.  Even if you have only one offer, you should do this.  Some important things to consider are:

  • How did you get to be an agent?
  • How many clients do you have now?
  • What professional organizations are you a part of?
  • Do you handle film rights?  Foreign rights?  Audio rights?
  • Are you a hands on agent?  Or do you prefer to leave all that to the writer alone?
  • In what “state” do you think my book is?  In other words, how much editing do feel it still needs?
  • What would be your timeline for submitting?
  • How often do you like to check in with your clients?
  • Do you charge any fees?  And what is your percentage?
  • What would you expect from me as a client?
  • If I sign with you, what will happen next?
  • Can I see a copy of your agency agreement?

The last question is of particular importance.  Try to see a copy of the agreement — most agents will happily comply — so you can be sure it’s a contract you want to sign.

What To Consider Next

I'm not sure this agent fits...

Once you’ve spoken to each agent on the phone, now is the time for you to DECIDE.  If there is no obvious choice — someone with whom you instantly connected and without whom the world would be dreary and gray — then now is the time to compare/contrast.  I suggest weighing pros and cons.

For example, if you want minimal agent feedback, and Agent 1 is hands-on while Agent 2 is hands-off, then Agent 2 has +1 pro and Agent 1 has +1 con.

Some aspects to consider (and that work well as pros/cons):

  • Enthusiasm (for your book, for your career)
  • Agency agreement
  • Experience
  • Hands-on/hands-off
  • Age (perhaps you’d rather work with someone close to your own age)
  • Number of clients
  • Editorial vision for your book
  • Career vision for future books
  • Submission plan for this book
  • Phone conversation (too friendly?  too cold?  not professional enough?)
  • Professional organizations

Tally it up, ponder it, dwell, moan, whatever.  Just be sure to have a decision in time to meet your own deadline!

Oh, you have decided already?  You’ve found The One you want representing you and your novel?  Well, in that case, let’s move to the final phase of this process then.

Saying “No”

Because you’ve chosen, you now have to tell all those other sweet agents “no”.  Email is the best way to do this, but it is no easy task because, to put it simply, rejection sucks.  Face it bravely, dear Writer, and if you like, use this template to help guide your words:

Dear<Agent Name>,

Thank you so much for the time and effort you spent considering me as a client.  I appreciate your enthusiasm, and even more, I appreciate your offer of representation.

After much thought, I’ve decided to decline your offer.  I ended up with several offers and was forced to make a choice.  It was an especially difficult decision because <insert something you really liked about the agent>.  I wish you the best with all your future projects, and thanks again for taking the time to consider me.

Best wishes!


And there you have it, folks.  Don’t forget to notify your chosen agent, of course!  They’ll want to know that you’ve selected them, and they’ll want to draw up the needed paperwork quickly.

Now run around and squee your head off, for it’s definitely something you have earned.  Best of luck in your career, Fearless Writer!


Susan Dennard is a writer, reader, lover of animals, and eater of cookies. She is repped Sara Kendall of NCLit, and her manuscript is currently on submission to publishers. You can learn more about her writing process, crazy life-thoughts, and crippling cookie-addiction on her blog or twitter.


When an agent requests your manuscript

9 Nov

by Susan Dennard


As I was writing this, I got to thinking of all those awesome Goofy cartoons. You know the ones I mean – where Goofy learns to play baseball or ski or swim, and hilarity ensues… So heads up. Goofy’s gonna learn to navigate agents too…

Oh, and you have to imagine me as that snide voice-over in the cartoons. Very posh, very serious.


Garsh! This is hard.

Writing! The age-old profession for the entertainment of millions. Amongst those brave enough to pursue a writing career, it has been directly linked to premature aging and stubby fingernails.

These days, it seems the internet is saturated with information on researching agents. On querying agents. On handling The Call. Yet, where does one find information on partial or full requests? What does one do when offered representation while other agents still possess the manuscript? Or, what all writers dream about, what does one do if multiple agents offer representation?

Requests for Your Manuscript

Once you get over the initial and inevitable hand-clapping and squealing, try to calm yourself. After all, ::condescending voice deepens:: initial professionalism doth the man…er, dog…er, writer make.

Simply fill out this handy-dandy template, paste a copy of your query letter below it, and then attach the manuscript file to the email.

Dear <Agent Name>,

I was delighted to receive your request for a <full or partial> of <Book Title>. As asked, I have attached the manuscript (in MS Word format) to this email. I have also pasted my query letter below.

Thanks so much, and I look forward to hearing from you.


<Paste Original Query Letter Here>

An Offer While the Manuscript is Still Out

I gart an offer! Huh-hyuck!

Oh happy day! You have received your first offer. What do you do now? There are still 6 (or 16 or perhaps even 60) agents still in possession of your manuscript or query or synopsis.

You have two choices:

1) You may choose the offering agent and instantly – instantly, I repeat – notify the other agents of your decision.

2) You may decide to hold off on acceptance until you have heard back from all the other agents. If you choose to do this, then simply fill out this handy-dandy template and send it to all agents who have not yet rejected you. In the subject of this email, be sure to say: OFFER OF REPRESENTATION for <Book Title>, <Name>.

Dear <Agent Name>,

I would like to inform you that an agent has made offer of representation for my <Genre> novel, <Book Title>. I wish to make a decision regarding this offer within the next <Time Frame>, but I also want to give you a chance to read the <full or partial or query or synopsis or whatever you sent> I sent. If you could please let me know your position with regards to <Book Title> by <Day>, I would greatly appreciate it.

Thanks so much, and I look forward to hearing from you.


<Paste Original Query Letter Here>

Additionally, be sure you choose a reasonable time for decision making. The standard amount is a week to ten days, but you can do more (if perhaps you contacted a lot of agents) or you can do less (if you want a quick answer).

That said, if you give the other agents a deadline, then you REALLY SHOULD NOT accept any offers before that deadline. By giving the agents a chance to finish your manuscript and decide if they want to make an offer, those agents are effectively clearing off their schedules and prioritizing your manuscript. For you to accept an offer before hearing back from them is considered rude – you have just wasted their time.

Stay Tuned

Oh the complex world of writing! All non-writers wonder why you do it, and all writers wonder how you could ever do anything else.

Goofy and I will return at a later date to walk you through the final question posed: “What does one do if multiple agents offer representation?”

For now, though, Goofy must ice his sore muscles, and I – haughty voice over that I am – must go gargle salt water for my future gigs.


Susan Dennard is a writer, reader, lover of animals, and eater of cookies. She recently signed with Sara Kendall of NCLit. You can learn more about her writing process, crazy life-thoughts, and crippling cookie-addiction on her blog or twitter.