if it’s too difficult for grown-ups, write for children

Ask Daphne! Should I go it alone?

It’s President’s Day, so I’m not really here, but robo-Daphne is always up for another round of Ask Daphne! Today, Jen needs to know:

What if a writer has a manuscript already under consideration with a publisher and then by sheer luck, finds an agent interested in representing that writer while the book is still being considered. Would the editor be offended? Would the agent be more willing to sign on with the writer since half the work is already done?

If such a thing should happen, then congratulations! You must have written one hell of a book to have both an editor’s interest and an agent’s offer. Most editors would not, I hope, be offended. In fact, I think a lot of them like working with agents for the same reasons that authors like to have agents — we provide a buffer between editors and authors, and can help each transcribe their thoughts or feelings about the publishing process into text that is more understandable to the other party.
On the agent side, before you accept representation, I hope you would let the offering agent know that the book is already under consideration by a publisher. You don’t mention an offer from the editor, so let’s assume you’re still just at the “thinking about it” stage, so to speak. Your agent will need to know this, as it would affect her possible future submissions. She may also decide, on signing you, to go straight to the editor to inform her that you’re working together, and try to close a deal without making additional submissions. Then again, you’re more likely to be read and get into bigger editors’ hands with an agent than without, so even with editorial interest, you may want to let your agent continue to submit.
But just because you have interest from an editor — or even if you have an offer in hand — not every agent will just jump on board. And you might not want an agent who does — you may always wonder if they’re ONLY signing you because you already have an offer, or if they truly like your work.
It’s easy for me to say you should concentrate on agent submissions first, but that isn’t always the way things go. Just know, if things do happen sort of sideways, that an agent who loved your book before she knew there was an offer attached is an agent you want to have on your side.