Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Getting an offer of representation

You've just sat down and opened your e-mail to see if your querying has paid off. Another rejection. And worse? It's on a full. You're tired, frustrated and a little devastated. So, you get out of your e-mail and start making yourself breakfast.
The phone rings. You're wondering who in the world could be calling so early and answer.
It's an agent.
And they love your book.

People have asked me several times what happens when you get an offer of representation. Well, here are a few things you should know.

I got an offer of representation. What now?

You talk to the agent, listen to them rave about your book and ask as many questions as you can think of. When I got my offer, I was so tongue tied and just plain "what the crap just happened", that I couldn't think of many questions to ask.

So, take a deep breath, tell them you need at least a week to think about it and call them back when you've calmed down a bit. Don't ever just say yes. This is a huge part of your writing career. You have to think it over for a few days and make sure it's the right decision.

Do I e-mail the other agents with my work?

Absolutely. Let every agent that has your material know that you have an offer. It will kick their butts into high gear and they'll get back to you within your time limit. I told all of mine that I needed to know within a week and they were all very nice about it. To let them know, I just sent an e-mail with OFFER OF REPRESENTATION in the subject line and then wrote a little paragraph of who I was, the book I queried and how long they had to read. Most agents will ask who the offering agent is and really, it's not a big deal if you tell them. Agents know each other and they want to know who they're up against. Also, I made the mistake of not sending my news to agents I had only sent my query letter to. I sent them to most, but I missed a few and got a few requests and a few rejections after I'd signed. One agent was disappointed she didn't get to read my work, so be sure to send your news to everyone.

What if I get another offer?

If you get another offer, stay calm. I ended up getting two offers, so I e-mailed the first agent who offered to tell him someone else offered. Then I set up a phone call with each individual agent to ask more questions. Let me tell you, I was freaking out before I talked to both of them. I'd already talked to agent 1, but I was waiting to hear from agent 2 now. Nerves ...

What kind of questions do you ask?

You can ask anything you want. Which editors or houses they have in mind for your book, how extensive revisions will be, if they're a career agent or just want to agent one book. I also asked if they were a phone or e-mail person. I tend to freeze up on the phone, so I like e-mail much better. Don't be afraid to ask things, even if you think they're stupid questions. That is what an agent is for. To answer your questions. They know a heck of a lot more about publishing than you do. And they basically work for you. Don't be shy about what you want to know. :)

How do you know which agent is the right one?

You'll know. I was so stressed out about choosing the right one, when it was completely obvious who I should go with. The first agent loved my book. Loved. He raved about it, answered every single question I threw at him without missing a beat. He was so easy to talk to, funny,  had a great contract, wanted a career author, and believed in my work. He told me even if my book he offered on didn't sell, he loved my voice and wouldn't just drop me if things didn't work out with it. That is someone you want to represent you.

The other agent was super nice and came from a great agency, but there was something about her that I wasn't sure about. She had a hard time answering some of my questions and honestly, I didn't need a friend to hold my hand through the whole process of submitting and revising my novel. I needed someone to sell it. Someone who was very good at communicating with people. Who had contacts in the publishing houses. A salesman, if you will. The whole conversation was awkward and I knew we weren't a match.

Obviously I chose the first agent. ;) And believe it or not, he was the last query I sent out. I was ready to give up, even though I had quite a few fulls out with agents. But he read my book in 2 days and offered the day I got a rejection on a full. It's funny how things work out.

The contract

This part scared me. I'd never done this before, so I didn't know what a good contract was. I asked my agent about it and he was very upfront with me. I read through the contract a million times before I signed it. If there isn't a way out of a contract, be a little wary. Most agents have a way out if you're not getting along for some reason. Anyway. It was very standard for a literary agent, and if you have any questions about your contract, ask your agent. Or even someone else who knows about contracts. Don't event think about signing it without reading it.

Telling people

When you accept an offer, wait until the contract is signed before yelling it to the world. You want to make sure everything is in place and you have read everything and signed on the dotted line. Once you sign, you can announce whatever you want! And be excited! You're allowed! :D

Next week I'll talk about what an agent should be doing for you, and things you should look out for. :)


Sarah Pearson said...

I'm a million miles away from this at the moment but I love reading about it. The idea of receiving offers from more than one agent had never even entered my head :)

Jenny said...

Thanks for sharing your experience. The idea of this happening is so exciting and scary at the same time. I don't know if I would have thought to ask e-mail vs. phone, but it's a great question.

Also great encouragment to just keep trying. A rejection and offer in the same day, you just never know.

Melissa Hurst said...

I'll have to bookmark this post. I absolutely hate talking on the phone, so I know I'll freeze up if I ever get one of those calls:)

Michael Offutt said...

I can't wait to see your book in print. Here's to hoping that your uber agent gets you a big book deal. :)))

Ruth Josse said...

Sounds thrilling and frightening at the same time. A rollercoaster! Thanks for sharing your experience!

Cynthia Lee said...

Thanks, girl. This was helpful.

Anonymous said...

This was very informative. I'm glad I already have my agent, but everything you said was spot on!

Samantha said...

Thanks for the post, this was very helpful! Good luck with your agent!


Jolene Perry said...

Yep, that was me too.

I've gotten about 50/50 rejections/more requests since signing with Lauren.

I obviously didn't let EVERYONE know, just those who had partials or fulls.

Abby said...

Aw, Chantele, how I love your informative blog posts like this. They are so needed. Not that I have any offers yet but you always give us straight forward answer and keep everything positive so we don't lose hope! I love it!

Shallee said...

I'll be bookmarking this for (hopefully) future reference! Thanks for all the details, Chantele, it's nice to hear it from someone who knows!

L.J. said...

This was very helpful, Chantele. Or at least I hope it will be ;) I've got this bookmarked for the special day! Thanks!

Stephanie McGee said...

Man. All these people talking about building your career, finding an agent, querying, et al., are really making me wonder if the universe is trying to kick me into the deep end of the querying pool. I have a blog post or two bookmarked consisting entirely of questions to ask an agent who is offering representation.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Wow, Chanetele

Congratulations and thank you for sharing your story with us.

How exciting.... I am glad you found an agent that you're comfortable with.

I am working at finding an agent now. I'm hoping to have a success story some day.

When I read stories about bloggers who succeed it thrills me and give me hope.

Thanks again...

Chantele Sedgwick said...

Thanks so much guys! I hope it helps a little! :)

Jennifer Hillier said...

This is such a great post, full of great advice. Congratulations on getting your agent, and good luck on sub! :)

Jeigh said...

Thanks for the post! The thought of actually talking to an agent on the phone terrifies me, so I'll bookmark this post and hopefully it will help me through when the time comes :) Also, I suppose it would help to remember that they're calling because they like me, right?

Anonymous said...

So helpful! Thanks. I'm looking forward to your next post.

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

yay, great advice! what news these days?

J. A. Bennett said...

This is great advice and something I will take into account when I get there. I tend to be tongue tied as well when something amazing like that happens, but now I can be prepared and think of questions before hand.
BTW, You got some awards on my blog!

Stacy Henrie said...

Great post! This is great information and I hope to use it one day soon. :)

Kerri Cuev said...

Yay, Congrats to you :) Very exciting!!

Maggie said...

Good information. Can't wait to have two or more agents fighting over me. Yeah, some day...

Jess said...

This is great!

...now if only I were in a position to need this information sometime soon :)

I think I'll bookmark it just in case~ a girl can dream ;)

Peggy Eddleman said...

WOW! FABULOUS information. I'm going to bookmark this page for when I get that phone call. :)

But first I'm going to stare at how pretty your blog is for a minute. I've mentioned that I like it, right?

Angie Cothran said...

This was great! I'm dying to know what your book is about and when it comes out!

Jessie Humphries said...

Stories like this get me instantly inspired. I just want to finish my ms. so I can get there! Thanks.

Crystal Collier said...

I'll be there soon. Thanks for the words of wisdom!

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