Pub Rants

Doing It Exactly Right

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STATUS: It’s a late one. Pretty much tells you what a busy day it was but the Nuggets just edged out the Lakers.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? BELIEVE by Cher

Last week I got a call from an unagented author who had an offer on the table from a publisher. She handled the whole situation exactly right so I had to share.

She received the offer and kept her head. She asked the publisher to email the deal points to her and said she would respond in a week. She was gracious and professional to the offering editor.

Then she started calling agents.

In her phone message, she quietly and carefully stated the following:
–her name
–the offer on the table
–the publisher
–the time frame in which she needed agents to respond
–her contact info

I returned her call immediately. She was calm and professional on the phone while explaining her needs. She had obviously prepared for an agent conversation and answered questions immediately when asked.

Ultimately the project wasn’t right for me so I ended up passing, but I think whichever agent she lands will be pleased with her as a new client on his/her list.

16 Responses

  1. Anonymous said:

    I’m in that type of situation, but unlike the author in your post, I think I’ve really screwed it up because I tried to be too accomodating to both publishers instead of just going with my gut.

    I love to spin the yarns, it’s just the business part that gets me in trouble.

  2. Anonymous said:

    Hi Kristin,
    this may sound like a stupid question, but can you explain why she would need an agent if she has an offer on the table? Is this to help negotiate the terms of her contract, and could she do this without an agent?

  3. Anonymous said:

    I thank you, Ms. Nelson, for your kind words. First-time authors have a hard enough time getting both feet in door, but your professionalism and easy-going style eased my rattled nerves.
    For those of you who earn Ms. Nelson’s expertise, congratulations, you’re in good hands.


  4. Tori Scott said:

    I agree, Nancy. Even though I haven’t come up with a story that has tempted Kristin to take me on, I’ve been very impressed with her professionalism and style.

    And I’ll keep trying until she tells me to go away. 🙂

    And super congrats on your offer!!

  5. Diana Peterfreund said:

    Anonymous at 10:20, agents do a whole lot more than just send books out to publishers.

    Yes, an agent can negotiate the contract. The author could do it themselves, but they aren’t necessarily going to know everything to look for, or be able to get the same responses as an agent could.

    In addition, the agent can turn the original offer into something else entirely — a one book deal into a multi-book deal, etc. They can see the offer the publisher is making as well as the potential of the project and advise the author NOT to take it. Since there is an offer from one publisher, there may be an offer from another, and the agent can help facilitate this through her contacts.

    And that’s all before a contract is agreed upon. An agent’s job isn’t over when the contract is delivered. She can help guide the author through the entire process — cover design, publicity concerns, editing concerns — everything.

  6. Maprilynne said:

    It seems to me that half of all concerns in publishing can be asnwered with the simple sentence, “Just be professional!”:)


  7. EAWhitt said:

    Funny, Miss Snark just advised against ever calling an agent with this kind of deal, saying it was better to e-mail. I suppose that’s mostly a matter of preference, though I think I’d probably e-mail anyway, to avoid the possibility of my phone call interrupting something more important, but would that have gotten an immediate call-back?

    Ah, the vagaries of the publishing world…

  8. Anonymous said:

    I also read Miss Snark’s blog, eawhitt. Phone calls can be risky business when agent’s are busy. However, there are many days when an agent is unable to get to all of their emails, and most have a garbage spaminator of some sort.

  9. julia said:

    I would tend to prefer email because I make more sense when I write than when I speak. But I imagine agents are used to hearing past the nerves during a phone call.

  10. Anonymous said:

    Isn’t calling a no-no in the same league as dropping by? Why was this one so great, because she was polite and efficient?

  11. Cindy Procter-King said:

    anonymous 12:18, if an author has an offer on the table, it’s generally regarded as okay to call the agents she’s interested in. In a case like this, an email is less effective, IMO, because the agent might not get to it as quickly as the phone and then there are email spam filters that might mess up things for the author.

    When Kristin wrote the post about a writer dropping in, I believe the writer *didn’t* have an offer to discuss, just wanted to make a connection. There’s nothing wrong with that writer’s motivation; however, an email to let Kristin know she was in town and if it suited KN’s schedule to meet would have been a more effective tactic, IMO.


  12. Lara said:

    Here’s a question for you–if that were to happen again, would you prefer a phone call, or an email?

    I just know some agents hate being called directly, no matter what. But I have to remember you’re a “nice” agent!


  13. Anonymous said:

    It’s Friday already, so probably nobody will read this, but I wonder why this book wasn’t right for you, Kristin? Isn’t potential for a sale the main criterion for accepting a project? This book was presold, so it would seem that you’d make an easy commission on it–and any extra dealing you did for the project would be gravy.



  14. Maggie Stiefvater said:

    I think I’d rather have an agent that was picky about who they took on, deal or no deal on the table, because I don’t want an agent that is interested in just one of my books — I want an agent that is interested in my career. So I think that even with the deal, a good agent still looks at the material and says, “Am I excited about selling this?”