conversation with editor, Carolyn Howard-Johnson. I want to share it with you and provide Carolyn’s answer in case any of you are facing a similar situation with a book query.
The listener asked:
I have pitched a book to several agents and publishers at one time. I have received at least a dozen requests to see the full proposal; some asked for the manuscript. An unknown agent (not listed in the AAR website or in the Writers Market) is interested in having me sign an agreement for a one-year exclusive to try to place the book with a publisher. What should I do?
If you've done your homework and are pretty certain the agent is on the up and up in spite of the lack of listing, write to the others. Tell him you have another offer. Say something like "I hope to hear from you by (date), for I feel that we are the best fit. But, you can well guess that I am also eager to proceed with the publishing process."
It can only give you credibility if handled well, and might spur the others to make a decision in your favor. By the way, one year is a long time. You might want to try to negotiate the term by stating, "I would feel more comfortable with a six-month trial."
You might also ask if he has any specific contacts that he feels might be interested and who they might be. That may be pushing it a bit but considering no listing, it may be a good precaution.