So once you get all the information presented in an offer, what do you do with it?
If you’ve already done a lot of research, the editor is someone you’ve always wanted to work with, the house was specifically targeted and you like everything you’re hearing and you’re comfortable with understanding the terms, you can certainly accept then and there. It’s rare, but it happens. And it underscores the importance of really doing your research.
More likely, you’ll want a little time to process and think it over and as much as we’d like you to jump up and down shouting “Yes! Yes!”, we completely understand. The editor will probably want an answer within a day or two or at most a week. It’s not good form to leave an offer hanging for any extended period of time.
So the first thing you’ll want to do is contact every agent and publishing house that’s also currently considering the work and let them know you have an offer on the table. Once folks hear that, you should get a response pretty quickly. You don’t have to give any specifics on where the offer is from or how much it’s for. You want them to fall in love with your work, not the dollar signs.
If you and an agent agree on representation, any negotiation henceforth is handled by that agent. Contact the editor and let her know who will be representing you, and they’ll take care of it from there.
If it’s been about a week (or whatever the agreed on time frame is) and you’re still not hearing back, it’s time to make a decision. And here’s where I don’t have any bullet points to help you out.
But I can emphasize that you shouldn’t be afraid to talk to the editor. Ask as many questions as you can think of. We’re all straight, honest, up-front kind of people–and very used to dealing with new authors; there probably aren’t too many questions we haven’t heard before, no matter how “newbie” you think they might be. We want to build a lasting relationship and obviously trust is a big part of that. So we’re definitely going to do what we can to help you along the way.