What If Multiple Agents Want Your Work?

OK. So you’ve sent out your e-mails, had a few responses, and now it’s down to two or more agents who’ve made you offers. You’ve politely but firmly told them that you have to speak with everyone before making a decision. Now what? E-mail them, say there are several agents interested, and that you’d like to set up a phone meeting. I know, I know, it’s scary. This column by agent Jessica Sinsheimer of Sarah Jane Freymann Literary is an excerpt from GET AN AGENT, a 128-page magazine all about finding an agent.
Author:
Publish date:

OK. So you’ve sent out your e-mails, had a few responses, and now it’s down to two or more agents who’ve made you offers. You’ve politely but firmly told them that you have to speak with everyone before making a decision. Now what? E-mail them, say there are several agents interested, and that you’d like to set up a phone meeting. I know, I know, it’s scary. But you will (one hopes) be calling up your agent for years to come—it’s worth it to know what that will be like. And even if you’re a hot mess (or, more likely, an overcaffeinated one) on the phone, they’ll still want your book.

Image placeholder title
Image placeholder title

This column by agent Jessica Sinsheimer of
Sarah Jane Freymann Literary is an excerpt
from GET AN AGENT, a 128-page magazine
all about finding an agent. The publication
is in bookstores now
, and has info on
queries, synopses, Chapter 1 tips,
proposals, copyright, and much more.


Don’t be nervous; they’ll do most of the talking—they are, after all, auditioning for you. Don’t be afraid to spend a moment on pleasantries—if anything, it’ll calm you down and make you sound more professional and less scared. Try something like: "Hi, how are you, did you have a good holiday? Great, so I was calling to get a better sense of each interested agent …" Prepare a list of questions for each. Here’s a jumping-off point:

What editorial comments do you have? What would you like me to change/expand/cut out?

  • What do you like about my work? (If they don’t answer this themselves, it’s unusual, but keep asking until you have a good sense as to why.)
  • What have you sold recently? In this genre? (We’ll assume you’ve done some research before querying this agent, but it’s all right to ask.)
  • Do you have an idea of the editors you’d send this to?
  • How soon could you send this out (after the edits are completed)?
  • What kind of feedback do you give your writers? How much communication would there be? Would I hear about everything as it happens, or would you call and tell me when the deal is done?

Be wary of agents who say, “Your work is perfect! I wouldn’t dare change a comma!” (Some agents minimize the work involved to tempt you.) Or, “This is going to be the biggest bestseller, like, ever!” (No one knows in this market.) Or, “I can promise you’ll have a gold-plated private jet for your international book tour!” (Unrealistic—plus, wouldn’t it be too heavy to fly?) Or, “I’m the only one who can sell this." (Unprofessional on many levels.) They should care about making the work the best it can be—just for the sake of it reaching its full potential. Also, see if they seem like a nice person. You’ll be entrusting them with your work, after all, and will want to feel comfortable seeking their advice in all that’s about to happen.

(See the rest of the article and
so much more inside GET AN AGENT.)

who_are_the_inaugural_poets_for_united_states_presidents_robert_lee_brewer

Who Are the Inaugural Poets for United States Presidents?

Here is a list of the inaugural poets for United States Presidential Inauguration Days from Robert Frost to Amanda Gorman. This post also touches on who an inaugural poet is and which presidents have had them at their inaugurations.

precedent_vs_president_grammar_rules_robert_lee_brewer

Precedent vs. President (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use precedent vs. president with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 554

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a future poem.

new_agent_alert_tasneem_motala_the_rights_factory

New Agent Alert: Tasneem Motala of The Rights Factory

New literary agent alerts (with this spotlight featuring Tasneem Motala of The Rights Factory) are golden opportunities for new writers because each one is a literary agent who is likely building his or her client list.

Miller_1:19

Timothy Miller: The Alluring Puzzle of Fact and Fiction

Screenwriter and novelist Timothy Miller explains how he came to write historical fiction and how research can help him drive his plot.

Batra&DeCandido_1:18

Dr. Munish Batra and Keith R.A. DeCandido: Entertainment and Outrage

Authors Dr. Munish Batra and Keith R.A. DeCandido explain how they came to co-write their novel and why it's important to them that the readers experience outrage while reading.

incite_vs_insight_grammar_rules_robert_lee_brewer

Incite vs. Insight (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use incite vs. insight with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Cleland_1:17

Jane K. Cleland: On Writing the Successful Long-Running Series

Award-winning mystery author Jane K. Cleland describes what it's like to write a long-running book series and offers expert advice for the genre writer.