You get the email you’ve been waiting your life for…an agent has emailed or called you to offer representation!

First things first, go pour yourself a big glass of something nice, and share the news with close, significant others. That might be a supportive family member or your writing group. It’s important to share and celebrate each and every step and success on this long journey.

Once you’ve taken a moment to enjoy that euphoric feeling, it’s time to get down to business.

Letting other agents know

You should email all the other agents still considering your manuscript, with OFFER OF REPRESENTATION in the subject line. They want to know, they will want to consider it, even if it’s just to make sure it’s not the book they’ve been dreaming of receiving.

Don’t assume you have to accept the first offer you receive. It’s important to let other agents put their hat in the ring, and all good, professional agents completely understand that. They would expect you to do this.

Generally, two weeks seems to be the acceptable amount of time you can ask an offering agent to wait while others consider, and you potentially choose who you’re going to go with, if other offers come in.

We would say if the agent thinks this is unreasonable or is rushing or pushing you in any way, you have to start asking questions about why. As we say, most good, professional agents expect this and know it’s the way it works.

Research the agent

You should also make sure you research the agent offering as thoroughly as possible. Who do they represent? Can you chat to a few of their clients? (and make sure you chat to clients whom they haven’t sold – that will give you the other perspective as most authors are happy with their agent if they sell, it’s when it doesn’t that we see the real measure of an agent and how much they’ll stick by you and your writing – this is a relationship, and therefore needs to carefully entered into).

It’s worthwhile scheduling a phone call to discuss all your questions – you’ll have lots. You’ll want to know the agent’s vision for this book, but also for your career. You’ll want to establish how the communication will work, and how much support and editorial input they’ll have on your manuscript before it’s submitted to publishers.

Read through contracts

If you’re offered a contract at any stage, you’ll want to read that thoroughly, to have it checked by someone with experience (the Society of Authors is brilliant in this regard, so worth joining, though they will help you anyway). You’ll want to see if you’re being given a contract for this book only, or if it’s for all your subsequent works. You’ll want to check things like the termination clauses etc and notice periods, and what happens in the event of the book selling, but you and the agent separating later – this happens more than you’d think.

Try not to get too overwhelmed when you read the contract or to feel pressured into signing too quickly. Do seek out the help and experience that is out there.

If you end up with multiple offers, we’d strongly suggest you speak to all of them, asking them the same important questions that will help you decide who is the best fit for you and your books. Again, this is normal and expected, and happens all the time.

Be honest and upfront

Be up front and honest with the agents at all time – tell them of developments and don’t be worried or afraid about having to say no. They are professionals and people say no to them all the time. They may be disappointed, but I will guarantee that any good, professional agent will wish you luck, whatever your decision, and hope to see your book on the shelves some day.

It’s okay to say no

One last thing to say is this – if you only get one offer of representation, it is still okay to say no to that offer. It also happens all the time. Just because you receive an offer (in any aspect of life) doesn’t mean you have to sign it. it might take some strength to say no, but remember it is an option.

Be communication and honest with everyone involved. If you do that, you’ll be fine, and we’re sure you’ll make the right choice.