Multiple Offers of Rep

Hurray!!! An agent asked you for The Call. It went well and they want to represent you! You are on the verge of leveling up! This is big! This is huge. Pop the champagne! You’ve made it.

You send your emails letting all the other agents know, yes? See here. And now you wait out your week or two.

But then… another agent gets back to you. They set up a call. And lo and behold: they offer rep! *I too have a gift for the child, Maleficent gif*

Then another agent. And so on and so forth.

It may feel great—it should! It’s amazing. In your time in the trenches you probably hoped for one yes, any yes. But multiple offers are also nerve-wracking, anxiety provoking, and semi-nauseating. *Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems gif*

And complaining to your agent-less friends is like whining about your tiara messing up your hair. That’s a no-go. But agented friends might not have received multiple-offers. So, now what?

Come pull up a seat. I got you.

Last year, I received four offers. It doesn’t matter who. And that’s important—whether you have one offer or seventeen, you wind up in the same spot. Your worst case scenario is you will have an agent. So let go of that breath you didn’t know you were holding and here are some things to consider as you make your choice.

Assuming you did your research pre-query (see How to Find a Good Agent TM if not), they’re all agents you’d accept. Here’s what I found mattered to me and friends who wound up in this spot. *Choose wisely gif*

Vision—Super important. Do they match your ideas for not just this book, but your career? How do they treat clients who don’t sell their first manuscript? (This happens A LOT). Do your communication and editorial preferences blend? If you don’t know the answer to these, ask for a second call. That’s always fine.

Reputation—also important. What kind of relationships does their agency have with editors? Are they respected in the industry? Do their clients idle on sub or go to the top of the pile? Ask around privately. This is a business relationship. You’re not auditioning a CP. Selling is what matters at the end of the day.

References—I cannot tell you how much this matters. Maybe you think: eh, they all say good things. NO, THEY DO NOT. First, a client may be quietly disgruntled. *Run away, gif* Second, there is a huge difference between *Drake shrug emoji gif* and *I would die for Riley, gif*. You want the latter. ALWAYS see if you can get the references on the phone. Most people can put together a decent email, but they’re more honest on a call. Ask for a client reference who has NOT sold yet. If they’re reluctant to give on: major red flag. ***When on a call with a reference make sure to ask: What don’t you like about working with them? What would you change if you could?***

Gut feeling—the last intangible. Super important but usually you can narrow it down to two who have met all of the above criteria. Toss a coin and see who you’re hoping for on the way down. You’ll usually know before it hits the floor.

Don’t forget: tell the agents your response BEFORE your post about it on social media. No one wants to find out they’re rejected on Twitter.

Don’t know what to say? Here’s a template:

Dear [Agent],

Thank you so much for reading my work and for your offer of representation. I appreciate both your time and vision for the project. I’m so honored that you want to work with me. I did, however, decide to go in a different direction [you can add that it was the original offering agent if you want]. I wish you all the best in the future.

Sincerely,

Good luck and congratulations!!!

Common First Chapter Mistakes

Hello, loves. Between PitchWars, DVPit, and general mentoring/CPing I’ve read A LOT of opening pages. Here are some of the common errors I’ve noticed along the way that may help you as you draft and revise.

  1. Starting in the wrong place (*Lost stork from Dumbo gif*)

The inciting incident opens a story. It’s the event that sets everything in motion. In YA it’s preferable to be in the first chapter or two. There’s more flexibility in adult, but in romance it’s introducing the hero. In mystery it’s a body. In suspense it’s the danger, etc. The closer those are to chapter one, the better.

  1. Starting with too much action (*LL Cool J surprise Motherf*ckers gif*)

Ex: An MC is running around, things blur by, pulses race, but the reader has no idea who the character is, where they’re going, what they’re running from, or where we are. Back up and slow down a little. Go to the spot that makes them run.

  1. Starting with too little action (*Nothing is happening, Little Mermaid gif*)

Ex: An opening begins with internal thoughts by the main character about her life, the day passes, and then the chapter ends. The reader is probably moving on to a different book. I read somewhere that if your book was a movie, the camera should have to pan on the first page. This stuck with me and I think it’s great advice. You want forward motion of some sort to get to the inciting incident.

  1. Starting without an anchor (*Dog in a space shuttle gif*)

Ex: A story opens with whispers in a room. Cool. But if we don’t know if it’s a spaceship or the 1700s very quickly, that’s bad. Make sure the reader is grounded to the scene. What time period are we in? Who is the MC? A reader should be able to tell your category and genre by reading your first couple of pages.

  1. Starting with a cliché. (*It was a dark and stormy night gif*)

Ex: A dream. An MC waking up. An MC getting ready for school/getting dressed. An MC looks in the mirror and describes her eyes, hair, nose, moles. An MC is in a car, driving somewhere and musing about life. An action event that turns out to be a movie or TV show. A description of the sky as azure as an opening line. These have all become overused in literature and are often weak places to begin. Give agents/editors something new.

  1. Starting with an information dump (*Pile of dino poop, Jurassic Park gif*)

Ex: Everything you need to know about the world, the deities, who governs, the sewage system, the resistance, the pollination of crops, their food and metal sources, and there’s a chosen one, all in the first ten pages. First chapters are a need-to-know basis. Provide enough information so the reader isn’t lost, but nothing they’ll trip over. This is hardest to balance in sci-fi and fantasy because you have world-building. My suggestion: read A LOT of chapter ones of published books in your genre- samples on Kindle are free. It’ll help you figure out how to get the info across without dumping a history book on your reader.

  1. Starting with a non-POV character (*And you are, Olaf gif*)

Ex: Nancy finds the body. We never hear from Nancy again but she’s used for this discovery. Try to start somewhere else.

Bonus: remember first lines drive stories. Make sure yours is a good one.

What to do with an R&R

You’ve checked your email and received something unusual—it’s not a rejection, but it’s not an offer of representation either. They’ve given you detailed feedback (yay not a form!) and said something along the lines of: while I cannot offer at this time, if you’re open to revising, I’d be happy to read the revision.

Yay! Yes? Meh? Boo? What is this strange creature?

That’s a Revise & Resubmit. People have called it a slow-no, but frankly I don’t like that term. *He’s only mostly dead Princess Bride gif* This is more of a second chance.

So… what now? *Finding Nemo gif where they’re floating in plastic bags*

First, congratulations. This is a step in the right direction. R&Rs take TIME and agents are BUSY. No’s are quick and dirty. You’ve shown potential they believe in enough to guide. That’s great!

What you DON’T do is move commas around and send it back in a day. Understand that if it were just a comma problem or rewording a couple of sentences they would’ve offered rep. Generally, deep revision takes a month or more.

Well, okay, but you may not have done a serious revisions before, so, here are my tips for any major revision:

  • Park your feelings—this isn’t an affront to you. This is our art. If you think your MS is perfect as is, go ahead and put it on Amazon or continue to query. Either way, you need to establish some distance between yourself and your work, otherwise every single negative thing will hurt. That’s no way to live.
  • Print and read the email—sounds basic but really read it.
  • Go to sleep—it’s vitally important to sleep on it. See what strikes you the next day. Some suggestions/comments you will agree with, others you won’t, and it’s amazing how The Muses work overnight to give you story ideas.
  • Reread the email—make notes this time.
  • Consider–think about where you are in the process- if you’ve just started querying vs. you’ve been at this for six months. Is this an agent you’d sign with? Do you, on the whole, agree with the feedback? If yes, read on. If no, keep querying. Sometimes your gut instinct is correct.
  • Plan—now you’re ready to come up with a battle plan. Bounce ideas off writer friends. Plot out your scenes, list out your character traits. Look up the Three Part and Four Part story structure and see which appeals to you. The most common errors are pacing/plotting or voice/characterization—make sure you know what those are. Look up beat sheets, Anatomy of a Story, Bird by Bird. These are resources that will help.

Note: don’t email your plan to the agent. Respect their time. You can thank them and say you’ll work on it. Maybe ask a clarification question.

Now it’s time to work.

  • Break it into pieces—never stare at an entire project *Jurassic Park flashlight gif*. Nothing good comes from that. Take it page by page.
  • Set goals—you can revise an 80,000 word MS in a month by revising an average of 10 pages a day. If you’re working full time on top of writing this is A LOT. Five pages may be more your speed and that puts you at 2 months which is right around where you want to be.
  • Self-care—get snacks, water, and whatever else you need. Go for walks. Take breaks when things start to blur.

Pro tip: if you feel like you can’t cut something because you LOVE it—put it in a deleted scenes folder. Readers always love extra scenes. Great for your site and future fan base.

Once you think you’re done—send it to a critique partner and ask for brutally honest feedback (someone catching typos isn’t helpful). If they mention the same issues the agent did, you have more work to do. If not, you’re ready to return it to the agent. Reply to the R&R itself.

The probability of going from an R&R to an offer is wholly dependent on the writer. And there are no guarantees that the agent will move forward with you. But by following these steps I can guarantee you’ll improve your craft. Good luck!

So You Received an OFFER OF REPRESENTATION!

“Kermit flail gif* You did it! An agent wants to represent your work! *Carlton dancing gif* You’ve spoken to him or her and it seems like a match. And now you’re about to enter the frenetic, chaotic, incredibly good but unexpectedly stressful period where you give agents the time to throw their hats in the ring.

Note: ALWAYS give other agents time to consider you. At least a week, generally two. Even if it’s a dream agent. You never know if that relationship will ultimately sour–don’t burn bridges. You also might get an offer from an agent you’re more compatible with and it’s always best to be professional.

Okay, so you have to contact agents—what in the world do you say? First, you’re going to contact anyone who has requested your full. Here’s what I said:

Subject: OFFER OF REPRESENTATION (Title) (Category) (Genre)

Dear (Agent’s name),

I am writing to let you know that I have received an offer of representation for my (Category), (Title), which I submitted to you in (month). I am reattaching the full manuscript for your convenience below. Do this, it’s easier on everyone

I am looking to close out all pending submissions by the end of business on (date). If you are interested in the manuscript, please let me know before then. I’d be thrilled to discuss it with you. If you need more time, please do let me know.

I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you again for your consideration.

Make changes accordingly if they have a partial. If you have queried them and they have not yet said no: send this letter without the manuscript attached. You never know who may have time to jump right to the full and offer rep. I had at least one offer of rep from someone where my query had gotten lost in the shuffle.

Best of luck and congratulations! This is a major hurdle and you should celebrate your success! *Giant wineglass cheers*

What To Do After DVPit

Congratulations on participating in #DVPit! You did it! Not only did you write a whole book, but you managed to sum it up in a great pitch that caught an agent’s/editor’s eye. *guy throwing confetti gif*

But now you may be asking yourself: holy shit, now what do I do?

Take a breath. Drink some water. Have a celebratory cupcake. Enjoy this moment. Really.

In all seriousness, the path to publishing is filled with so much disappointment- take the time to celebrate the wins. This is huge. You did it! You’ve received positive reinforcement of your dream. Whether you got one favorite or 100, all you need is one yes and you’re on your way!

Note: if you found yourself here and you didn’t have a successful pitch day, fear not. Some ideas and premises just are better in queries. Some concepts, and really all of NA, are more for indie presses and DVPit is mostly agents and Big Five editors. It’s not a reflection on your talent.

So now you may be staring at your MS like- OMG, someone has to see you. *Don’t look at me, I’m hideous gif.* Calm down. First- did you feel ready going into #DVPit? Did you have 1) a completed MS 2) that had been rested 3) that had been read and critiqued by someone NOT obligated to love you (i.e. not your wife/son/mom/hamster) 4) that you then revised after processing their feedback? If you answered yes, then you are probably ready to send. Don’t waste time moving around commas. Research the people you want to send to (see my other post on finding good agents here) and let those materials fly. DVPit moves at the fastest pace of any contest. You could be signed in record time.

If you answered no to ANY of those. Okay, you probably jumped the gun a little with pitching, but that’s not the end of the world. Do NOT send immediately. Grab your most trusted CP/beta reader. Don’t have one? Look at the pitches in your genre on DVPit. Try to connect with someone who seems cool and see if they want to swap some pages. You want to know what’s wrong, what your weak spots are-preferably soon. Try to work quickly. You want to turn around all materials to agents ideally within 2-3 weeks. The caveat being, if at the end of the month you’re still not ready, wait until you are. You want to go out with your best possible product. If that takes months, then it does.

Finally, don’t forget to shout out #DVPit and Beth Phelan when you sign with your dream agent! Looking forward to welcoming the newest members of DVSquad! Best of luck always!