Pub Rants

Anticipation Is Making Me Wait

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STATUS: I had a lot of phone conferences today–each averaging about an hour in length. So even though I was working, I didn’t tackle too many things on my To Do list which always makes me feel like I was a slacker somehow. I know. Makes no sense but there it is.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? BABY GOT BACK –the Richard Cheese version

Okay, maybe I’m dating myself here but do you remember the Heinz Ketchup commercials to the tune of Carly Simon’s Anticipation?

The idea was that the ketchup was so thick (and delicious I presume), that it took a while to pour out of the bottle but that extra anticipation made it all the more worthwhile.

The point being that you need to be patient and wait.

Well, that’s what you need to do when an agent comes a-calling and offers representation.

I know. You’ve been waiting a long time for this moment so your first instinct may be to scream “YES, somebody wants me. I’m yours,” but that may not be in your best interest because what if another agent also wants to offer? If they do, now you have choice which puts you in the catbird seat (thank you James Thurber). This is exactly where you want to be. You are about to embark on what will hopefully be a long-term partnership so don’t be in a rush to make that decision.

And don’t worry. An agent isn’t going to withdraw the offer if you make it clear that you’ll need a week or two to assess all your options. And if an agent did withdraw an offer, well, that’s an answer all in itself so don’t sweat it.

So, squelch your initial reaction. Patience. Anticipation is worth making agents wait.

14 Responses

  1. beverley said:

    Then I’m dating myself too because I love that song. What you wrote starts my own sense of anticipation when I will eventually get that call!

  2. Ryan Field said:

    “And if an agent did withdraw an offer, well, that’s an answer all in itself so don’t sweat it.”

    A very good sentence.

  3. Anonymous said:

    When I received an offer, I emailed all the agents who had partials and fulls, asking if they were still interested. It was amazing how fast these folks responded. I’m talking MINUTES. (Even the agent who’d been sitting on my sample chapters for over four months with nary a peep.)

    It was so cool to suddenly be so popular.

  4. Anonymous said:

    Ditto to what Anon 12:42 said.

    It took less than a day for an agent to respond, with, “Heck yes, I want this! When can I talk to you?” after I status queried, asking how long she’d be because I’d received an offer of represtentation.

    It’s simple supply and demand.

    Reminds me of that annoying person that had a crush on you in junior high, when you suddenly see him in the hall adored by a cuter girl than you could ever hope to be. All of the sudden, he didn’t look so annoying after all.

    If ever in this situation, talk to all agents involved. You want the person that “gets” your work, flattery aside.

  5. Kimberley Griffiths Little said:

    This post is so timely for me, Kristin. I’ve got a couple of agents showing a great deal of interest as well as an editor I met a few weeks ago at our local SCBWI conference and you gave me some good stuff to think about. I keep telling myself that if someone calls to just Breathe, Relax, and try to be myself, and don’t get so excited I can’t be coherent – or find myself agreeing to something I’ll regret later.
    I think it’s going to be easier said than done. I mean, when one of them asked for the full after my query I actually started shouting and crying I was so excited! Good thing I was alone.

  6. Trish Ryan said:

    That song always made me anxious – who wants to wait that long for ketchup? But you’re right about not jumping into an agent contract, though.

  7. Anonymous said:

    So when one agent finally has the sense to actually read the submission and act on it, then you roust the lazy bums who would have let you sit forever?

    It’s easy to want something when you’re told you might not get it. If they want it so bad, why didn’t they work for it?

    All things being equal, meaning if I check out the agents and would be happy with any of them, the agent who shows first interest has an edge in my book.

  8. Anonymous said:

    A very good point, Anon 3:13.

    Who wants an agent who suddenly becomes interested because they are afraid they’re missing out on something? And, what happens once they have you with nobody else vying for your attention?

    Didn’t high school teach us anything?

  9. Anonymous said:

    I wonder if anyone would turn this into a game. That is, wait until several agents have partials or fulls, wait a month or so, and then call all of them and pretend you have an offer, just to get them jumping.

    …Of course, this is a very dangerous game, and could easily fall apart if none of them jumped.


  10. Anonymous said:

    I knew the etiquette in dealing with multiple offers, but when it actually happened to me, I really lost my cool and my manners. I still feel awful about it.

    One morning I opened my inbox and five replies from agents were waiting for me. I opened the first three – all rejections. At that point I’d passed my 100th R.

    The fourth email was an offer from a mega agency I’d always respected. Since I’d done my research and knew the agent’s track record/how the agency worked, I replied yes (after half an hour of jumping up and down and screeching with joy).

    I had other fulls and partials out with other highly regarded agents. I contacted them all to say thank you and that I’d gone with someone else, without giving them an opportunity to make a counter offer. Given my shocking rejection rate and the amount of time that had passed since they’d received my submission, I thought they’d probably reject the work anyway.

    Was that a horrible thing to do to those other agents? Am I obsessing too much?

  11. Greg said:

    “Since I’d done my research and knew the agent’s track record/how the agency worked, I replied yes (after half an hour of jumping up and down and screeching with joy)…
    Was that a horrible thing to do to those other agents? Am I obsessing too much?”

    No, anonymous. Congrats on getting the agent; as you said, if you signed with an agent with a good track record, there’s nothing wrong with going with him/her when they contact you, and no one will hold anything against you for politely withdrawing–as long as you didn’t burn your bridges, which you clearly didn’t, you’re fine. Happens all the time.

    Or rather, anyone who *did* hold a grudge would be a nitwit.

  12. Stephe said:

    One of the best commercials ever. LOL! And a perfect way to make your point.

    Valuable advice indeed, for when I do start querying. Thanks.