I thought this was pretty common knowledge, but the comment section proved otherwise. Almost half of the commenters felt that an author should be able to take the first offer when it's given and just inform the other agents that the manuscript is no longer available. A few of the commenters made valid points, but most used this argument: If the first agent to offer is the author's "dream agent" then why should the author even talk to the other agents? It will just waste everyone's time.
How does one determine who their "dream agent" is?
I admit, I used the term when I was first querying. There were a few agents who had fantastic blogs that I'd read for months. They were cool. I liked them. Then there were a few agents who represented authors I loved. They were on my "dream agent" list too.
- At the time I didn't have a subscription to Publishers Marketplace, so I didn't know about any of their sales histories, and I'd never met them in person or talked to them on the telephone.
- I didn't know anything about their communication styles. Would they let me know what was happening with my submission every week or just when there was news or just when there was good news?
- I had no idea if they were hands on editorially and I didn't know if they'd want a major rewrite or just a few edits.
- When the project was ready I didn't know whether they would submit to 5 editors and be done or whether they would see the project through until every option was exhausted.
- I didn't know how they'd feel if I got tired of writing MG and decided to write YA or picture books--would they still represent me?
I knew almost nothing about them, so how could I know they were my "dream agent?"
When Sara offered representation I asked her about all of these things and many more. Her answers fit with what I wanted in an agent. But one of the coolest things about Sara was that when she was done answering my questions she asked, "Do you have other fulls out right now?"
I told her I had two. She encouraged me to let both of them know I'd received an offer and give them a chance to respond.
I was so excited about her offer I would have jumped right into signing if she'd been pushy about it, but she wasn't. She told me that she loved my book and she really wanted to work with me, but I needed to make a decision I felt good about. In the end one of the other agents offered too. She was lovely and it was a difficult choice, but I felt like Sara was the right one for me.
Having choices is not a bad thing. You'll have to work with your agent for a long time. You should like him or her. You should work well together. You should know what to expect. How will you know if you've made the right choice if you go with the first person to ask you?
So yeah. There may be a good reason to accept the first offer you get, but an offer from a "dream agent" isn't that reason. When you all have agents fighting over you I hope you'll take the chance to talk to all of them, weigh their pros and cons, and make the choice that's right for you.
Do you have a "dream agent?" If he or she offered would you accept on the spot or would you talk to other interested agents first?
For the agented: What are the things you love about your agent that you never would have known before you talked to them?