Part 5: Don’t Pull the Trigger Too Early
Once the first offer comes in, etiquette says you should contact everyone who still hasn’t responded to your query and give them a chance to consider; you contacted them before, so you owe them the opportunity to review it. I suppose you could just take that first offer and say “screw you” to the rest you queried, but what’s wrong with collecting a little good karma? Before I started on this latest agent hunt, I never would have guessed that one was expected to do this, but in fact this is part of the biz (and a good agent won’t pressure you to make a decision on the spot.). So I told Andrea I needed two weeks to wrap up matters with the other agents. A week to a week and a half seems to be the normal turnaround time for this kind of thing, but my offer came in during the Book Expo week, so the extra time was needed.
The strange and wonderful thing about having an offer on the table: for the first time, you can dictate a timeline and agents take it seriously. Though in a way those two weeks were far worse of a wait than the five weeks before that. I had ten queries still outstanding, not counting the no-responders from earlier in the process, and after getting off the phone, I started sending out nudges to those remaining agents. For a template on what to say in these emails, this is pretty good (the second half of the post).
And I then waited some more. Some got back to me rather quickly with congratulations on my offer and a pass on taking a look, and one told me that he couldn’t get to it by my deadline. There were still a few outstanding by the time the two weeks rolled around and they came in afterwards with congratulations and regrets they’d missed on the opportunity. When all was said and done, I gladly accepted Andrea’s offer.
While I was lurking on the Querytracker forum, I saw quite a few people who ended up getting multiple offers from agents, and as the post-offer rejections came rolling in, somewhere in the back of my mind I’d sometimes wonder if it was a bad sign that I wasn’t getting any other bites. It’s easy to fall into the misguided notion that if something is truly good it will be coveted by many, but as with love, all one really needs to find is the one right one. In the end, I was glad I didn’t have to write any rejection letters to anyone. I’m happy to have found the agent that not only appreciates my literary vision, but has faith in my ability to have a career. She wouldn’t have taken a chance on me if she didn’t.