Blogger: Rachel Kent
This blog is in answer to a question we received from Kristen in Washington.
She asks: “Let’s suppose that three editors request a proposal at a writers conference. What in the world does a writer do if one of them actually wants a full or wants to publish the book? What is the proper protocol when you don’t have an agent?”
Great question, Kristen! Thank you.
Here is my suggestion: If one of the editors requests a full manuscript or informs you that the book proposal is going to committee, send an email to the other two editors letting them know that there is further interest in the project from a different publishing house. Go ahead and use the new interest as an opportunity to ask if they’ve taken a look at the book yet and to ask if they’d like to see any additional material from you.
Also, it’s best not to tell editors who is interested. They don’t need to know who else is considering the project. That just gives them the chance to discount other interest because the house is smaller or to bow out without fully considering the book if they think that publisher could offer more money than they could.
If you actually receive an offer on the project, let the other two editors know that you have an offer on the table and that you would like to hear from them as soon as possible. Giving a time frame for a response is a good idea–two weeks is a good amount of time. Then let the publisher who made the offer know that you are thankful for their offer, but that you need a couple of weeks to hopefully find an agent before agreeing to anything. (See this post for more info about finding an agent after receiving an offer.) You don’t even need to mention that you are waiting for other publishers to respond, but it wouldn’t hurt as long as you’ve been up front with the fact that other houses are looking at the project from the beginning.
Keep in mind this is a great time to obtain an agent. That would relieve you of all the delicate maneuvering.
I hope this information is helpful to all of you who are submitting directly to editors through connections made at conferences.
Any further questions or comments on this subject?
Have any of you run into this situation before? How did you handle it?