Ask the Agent: An Offer in Hand
If a writer sends you a query, even a few sample chapters, and you turn it down, but think the writing is good, and then the writer is offered a publishing contract with a large CBA publisher, would you reconsider your rejection? Should a writer reapproach an agent if offered a contract?
I don’t think there’s any harm in sending a quick email to the agent of your choice, telling them of your offer and asking if they’d reconsider representing you. The worst the agent can do is say no. And most would appreciate being given the opportunity.
You can also ask the same question of an agent you haven’t queried yet, or one you’ve queried but they haven’t responded. Just tell them, “I have an offer on the table, are you interested in representing me?”
From the agent’s perspective, this can be a tough call. I never want to be perceived as an opportunist, and I never jump on a client strictly because they’ve been offered a contract. I’d rather make decisions about representation on my own. I don’t want to be an “ambulance chaser” agent, one who’s just trying to run after the money. I need to represent people I believe in, people I think I can get along with, and people I think have a promising future in writing. (I think most agents I know share this philosophy.)
So I guess if I’ve already turned someone down but they got a contract and asked me again, I’d have to reevaluate and decide if this is really a person who’s a good fit for me to represent. It’s possible I liked the author and the project, but for whatever reason, I thought it would be a tough sell to publishers. If that hurdle was overcome, maybe I’d see the error of my ways and enjoy the chance to come on board.
If you find yourself in the situation of having a publisher offer but not an agent, the best thing for you to do is to be clear on whether you still want an agent, even if you got this first book deal on your own. Will you feel more comfortable letting someone else guide you from that point on, and deal with all the business aspects of your publishing journey? Or are you fine dealing with the publisher yourself? You need to be clear on your answer to this, because if you bring on an agent after you’ve already been offered a contract, you’ll still end up giving away 15% of your royalties.
What’s your opinion? If you get a contract on your own, would you be inclined to try and bring an agent on board right away, or maybe wait until your next book?
Rachelle Gardner is a Christian literary agent affiliated with WordServe Literary Group in Colorado.