Ask Me Anything: On Offers of Publication

Here's the question:

Hello, Could you advise what subject line and content should go into an email when a new, un-agented writer has received an offer of publication directly from a publisher and has not yet accepted it but is looking for representation. Also, are inquiries of this sort welcomed or does it annoy an agent that the writer went direct to a publisher (knowing that the writer has not accepted the offer yet). Thank You.
Here are my thoughts: 

If agents have your manuscript already, I would follow up within the original thread and let them know you received an offer of publication from X publisher and could they respond to you by X date.

If agents don't have your manuscript. You can query and put "QUERY--OFFER OF PUBLICATION" in the subject line. Pitch the book and let them know where your offer is from. Let them know that if they're interested in reading, you'd love to send them your book, but you're hoping to get back to the publisher by X date.

In terms of response date, find out how long you have to respond to the publisher. A few weeks should be totally fine.

NOW, here's the tricky part and there's no easy way to say this so I'll go for blunt.

If you have an offer from a major publishing house (Big 5 or even not Big 5 but still a big deal--ie Scholastic for instance) this is awesome. As an agent, I will read your manuscript faster because of this.

But on the other hand if your offer is from a small press or an ebook only press, your offer doesn't actually help you. First of all those contracts are a ton of work and honestly not for much money and that leaves an agent signing you with two options--take the deal and hope it works out or turn down the deal and shop the book elsewhere and run the risk of not being able to sell it. Neither one feels like a winning situation.

I often get queries where an author tells me they have an offer from X publisher--but the publisher is someone I've never heard of. Unless it sounds like the most amazing life-changing book ever, I usually just pass.

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1 comment:

J. Lenni Dorner said...

Wow. That is some really thought provoking information.