So: you’ve gotten “the call” from an agent, you’ve been offered representation. You did your homework ahead of time and asked all of the right questions and have a good sense of the agent who offered you representation, but what do you do with all of the other agents who have your full manuscript?
First things first, be clear with the agent who offered you representation in the first place. Let them know that you have some other agents waiting and you want to give them X amount of time (usually 1-2 weeks) so that they have time to consider the manuscript.
Next, notify the other agents. Of course, you’ll want to do this right away, particularly if the amount of time you agreed on with the offering agent is just a week. When you do this, you need to be VERY CLEAR, if you are vague the other agents may miss your meaning and everyone will end up waiting around. Say, “I have an offer of representation and I give the other agent my decision by next Friday, so I would appreciate if you would be able to give me a decision one way or another by next Thursday.” The other agents will then, most likely, pick up your book and start reading. If they’re super busy, they may not end up giving you as many pages as they would have otherwise so DO NOT EVER fake an offer of representation – you’ll get an answer, but it may not be the one you want.
If you’re lucky, some of the other agents who have your full manuscript will offer representation as well, and you’ll talk with them and get a feel for everyone, think your decision over, and pick the agent you think is the best fit for you and your work. Let your agent of choice know, and be sure to tell the other agents before you go announcing your new business relationship on social media.