Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Three weeks ago Jon requested a manuscript from a promising writer. It arrived, was logged in and Jon looked forward to reading it in the near future.

This morning the "promising writer" emailed Jon to tell him the manuscript had been snapped up by another agent and that he (the author) was now under contract with that agent. Actually he said, and I quote, "Please be advised that I have accepted representation with a respected literary agency in NYC."

"Rats!" said Jon. (Well, perhaps not "rats" exactly, maybe it was a longer and much dirtier word.) "We missed a hot one," he grumbled. Then he wrote "promising author" a congratulatory email.

Miss a hot one we probably did, but kudos to "promising writer" for letting us know that he was in a serious relationship with another. Please, all you other promising writers, heed this writer's example. If you are fortunate enough to land an agent, tell all the other agents who are in the process of falling in love with you that your heart belongs to another. It's the right thing to do, even if it makes us sad.


Jolie said...

I'm assuming preferences may vary among agents, but is it a good idea to let prospective agents (the ones who have requested a partial/full) know if someone else has offered you representation in case they want throw their hats in the ring? If so, what's an appropriate way to say it without sounding arrogant or presumptuous?

"Agent XYZ has offered me representation, and I wanted to let you know so that you could also have the opportunity to make an offer if you so desire. Please let me know by this-or-that time/date if you are still interested"? I wouldn't want to make an ass of myself, but if Second Choice Agent made an offer while First Choice Agent was still reviewing materials, I'd want to make sure I didn't miss out on landing my first choice.

Kae and Jon said...


Dealing with agents is a lot like dating. If the cute boy that looks like Brad Pitt has not asked you to the big dance, you're tempted to go with the guy who resembles John Belushi. Would it hurt to tell Brad that John has asked you, but you'd rather go with Brad? Touchy, for sure.

My best advice is to be upfront about everything. I don't think I'd give an agent a time limit, but I'd certainly tell him or her that another agent is reading your work. That's enough of a push to get the second agent moving.