Wednesday, September 9, 2009

An Offer of Representation!!

It's overwhelming, isn't it? And so exciting! After all the work and hope and despair and sweat and tears and despair and booze and chocolate and despair SOMEBODY LIKES YOU THEY REALLY REALLY LIKE YOU!

Except wait.

Because what if other people like you, too?


I see this very thing happen occasionally as an editor, too. Every once in a while I get in touch with an unagented author and say, I want your book! I will give you this money!

And the author replies in like TWO SECONDS with something along the lines of "YES! YESYESYES YESYESYES YESSEYYS YEYEYS YSYEYY ERYEY EYIEL DMMG TNZBNIE!"

And I think, "Oh, yikes. No questions about escalations? No polite query about a slightly higher advance? No discussion of where I see the book development going? I would hate to think what would have happened if I were the type of editor to abuse such trust. You, sweetheart, need an agent and some Ritalin, stat."

Enthusiasm is a wonderful, wonderful thing and possibly the only thing this stupid industry runs on. But still, do everything you can to BE CALM and think things through. Please. Because I like you.

36 comments:

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Bwa-hahahahahahahahaha! Can't stop laughing, where's the Ritalin?

Frankie Diane Mallis said...

Hahaha! Best response ever! I hope that's not me one day.

Keith Schroeder said...

Before committing to anything, talk to your accountant. They are trained to point out pitfalls. Putting an offer in perspective is a valuable resource to have. Act like a pro, create a team to grow your success.

Jm Diaz said...

That is very nice of you! It must a total Sally Fields moment (as you so accurately portray), but you are right. I can remember my dad's words: "Never take the first offer of anything. No matter how desperate you are. They don't know, so don't tell them.
It is hard to do, especially when you see your life-long dream within arms reach.
Thanks for the reminder... ;)

Sarah Laurenson said...

YES!

LOL

Tess said...

How very interesting. Our posts match today. I wrote about how I expected to be dancing and ordering steak when I got agented. Instead, I was surprised by my feelings of gratitude, humility and the clear understanding that there was still much work to be done.

Good things to think about here. Good discussion to have.

Rachel said...

I think authors just get so excited that their dream is finally coming true--someone likes their book! They feel like they have to show the utmost enthusiasm, or the offer will be snatched back. So you recommend playing it cooler? Hard to get, in a way? Even if you have no other offers?

Ann Victor said...

May I ask for a blogpost on what questions we should be asking when we get a call?

As long as we ask them with professional calm. And politeness, of course. The happy dance can be done in private.

Michelle Kemper Brownlow said...

This was PERFECT!

Because at one time I would have been that "YES YES PLEHABEEAYYYYY YES!" author!

Always, always THANK YOU!

Anonymous said...

You don't have to be an author to agree without asking about an advance increase. My former -- yes, please note I said former -- agent didn't bother negotiating with the major pub house for a larger advance (it was the low end of a humble nice deal).

In fact, when I asked her, "Shouldn't we ask for more money?" She said, no, because she'd never sold a novel to this pub before and didn't want to make any waves.

Even thinking about it now (it was one thing on a list of many other career-halting things this agent did) makes me want to barf. And she is still an agent, happily accepting clients. Honest to God, I was lucky to get out alive of that mess. Barf. Barf. Barf.

Terri said...

Haha, I've had those Sally Field moments. And, should I get an offer on my current works I'll likely have them again...it's a knee-jerk reaction.

But, when that call comes again, I'll keep in mind these words, "could you hold for a minute, please?" ;-)

~Aimee States said...

"You, sweetheart, need an agent and some Ritalin, stat."

HAHAhaha...I about fell out of my chair.

suzelle said...

I never comment, just lurk, but this time I have to. I sold my first book on my own and I would never never never do it again. It's overwhelming and my father was dying-literally living out his last painful days at the time.
What I what have given to have had someone else to negotiate for me.

But I've learned and now I have the best agent!

Lilit Hotham said...

I'm sorry but I had to laugh at this post!
I can imagine some unpublished (desperate) writers doing exactly this. A victory dance is fine but don't email a clip of you doing it to the editor!
So basically show gratitude and not praise?

Anonymous said...

Of course we react that way, EA. After 100 rejection letters, who wouldn't? And if the offer is from a publisher that's been around for 80 years and the advance is twice what the internets told us we could expect, well, who's gonna argue?

That's how the conversation looked from my end of the phone line.

:o)

(Are escalations the increase in royalty percentage after a certain number of sales? she asked politely)

Haste yee back ;-) said...

Well, I didn't receive any calls, so you weren't talkin' to me!

I can have an over the phone panic attack just a flamboyant as this person... call me!

Haste yee back ;-)

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Timely. Thanks.

Sam Hranac said...

LM freaking AO

Anonymous said...

In my case, I found it helpful to (politely!) ask the editor to email the terms so that I could pass them by a (literary) lawyer. I found it really hard in the excitement of the moment to listen to someone rattle off numbers and percentages and be able to process them in any intelligent way.

Marshall Buckley said...

I was in the fortunate position of being able to use the "I have to confer with my writing partner" when the offer came... despite knowing that we would take it!

But the time to take it all in is certainly worthwhile.

Monkey Mama said...

Mwahahahah! We like you too!
But how can you *not* do this?
:-)

Liesl said...

Probably a good thing you can't see them do their victory dance. You'd probably skip the Ritalin and go right for sedatives.

myimaginaryblog said...

In response to the comments here, I don't think that Mrs. EA was telling us that we should not be enthusiastic, whether privately or publicly, when we accept representation or a deal with a publisher (although from a bargaining point of view, it might be wise to play your enthusiasm cards close.) I thought she was responding to the Rejectionist's post, where apparently an author signed with a different agent AFTER either explicitly or implicitly accepting representation--which is unprofessional and rude. And you're less likely to make this mistake if you don't say "Yes" before first waiting to see what your other options might be.

(Have I understood this correctly?)

Anonymous said...

Are people aware that literary lawyers cost a whopping four hundred dollars an hour?

They do. Trust me. I'm over two thousand dollars in the hole because of an agent I had to leave who told me I didn't have the rights to my own work. I had to get a lawyer to prove I did.

Even if your advance is 10k, you spend two hours with a lit lawyer it's gonna cost you a tenth of your advance. THAT is why many authors don't opt for a literary lawyer combing over every little phrase. Who has that kind of freaking cash? The author's guild can give you a general idea about something, but they aren't going to rep you for free.

Venus said...

I suspect that if such a call came, I would have a difficult time speaking, let along shouting. However, I would hope I could remain calm and levelheaded. You bet there would be shouting and screaming afterward though. You only live once, enjoy the moment I say...just not while your still on the phone with your future editor.

Anonymous said...

Sounds familiar because it's happened to me. But maybe editors who make offers to unagented (new) writers should also take some responsibility and make the official offer in writing - not in a surprise phone call. It's asking too much of a writer to get an unexpected call from an editor with amazing good news - and then have the presence (and knowledge of a book contract's ins and outs) to negotiate a deal on the spot. For the writer who gets that call, the best response is grateful and enthusiastic but noncommittal: i.e. "Great! I'm so happy you love my book! Can you send me the offer in writing and I'll get back to you?"

Anonymous said...

I think the point here (and correct me if I'm wrong, dear EA) is that, if an unagented writer gets an offer from an editor, the writer should think carefully and clearly before accepting said offer.

And, an editor will not be insulted if an unagented writer asks for time to think it over.

And, furthermore, an editor will not be insulted if the unagented writer alerts other potentially interested editors of the offer. ("potentially interested" meaning the manuscript has already been sent to them via slush or otherwise and they may be considering the manuscript AS WE SPEAK).

Do I have that right?

Editorial Anonymous said...

Yes. :)

The Rejectionist said...

It's also totes approps for authors to ask competing potential agents/editors to engage in jello wrestling matches. FYI.

Khanh Ha said...

Well, number one: I always like the Sally Fields' ecstatic 'You like me. You really like me!' tearful shouts; number two: Don't you just love shepherding that naive author, or would you rather deal with a bitchy agent like Ms. Snark?

You're the Louise Fletcher who loved being hated in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." After Ms. Snark folded her tent, I think you're the closest thing since then. What thing, you said? Forbidden fruit.

Deirdre Mundy said...

I've found that a double-shot of espresso is an acceptable ritalin substitute! :)

My problem with talking to editors (not that I've had an actual 'we want your book!' call, but even just talking) is that I get so excited to be talking to an actual person who loves kidlit (as opposed to typing..) that I have an overwhelming urge to talk about favorite books and authors as opposed to the business at hand......

So I can see "the call" for me going along the lines of
e: I want your book.
me: Yay! Btw... have you read anything By Jessica Day George? She's a lot of fun....
e: so the terms I was thinking were...
me: Neil Gaiman! Terry Pratchett! Hey, when is Rick Riordan going to give us something new? Ally Carter rocks! Ooh, look, a squirrel!

;)

Anonymous said...

Thanks, EA ;)

Anonymous said...

question: if an unagented writer receives an offer from an editor, is it then acceptable for the writer to seek an agent to help finalize the deal? Or maybe send the manuscript out elsewhere? THANKS.

myimaginaryblog said...

Just noticed that I typed "Mrs. EA" when I totally meant to say "Ms." Please forgive my impudent interloping r.

Angel Bluestocking said...

Laughed out loud to this. And I'll remember if I ever have an offer...as I flush Ritalin into me.

Anonymous said...

Take good note, people. I always quiz publishers, but accepted an agent who approached me. Big mistake. Stuck with duff agent, but don't have the time to look for a better one.