Sarah Davies and Ginger Clark tag team on describing how a rolling auction works. All of the bidding publishers give their bid, and then the lowest bidder is asked if they can match the highest bid, and the other bidders are approached in turn, and this can go around a few times, perhaps up to seven rounds.
Compared to a best bids auction, where Ginger asks for editors to name their ultimate bid and no additional rounds of bid-taking happen.
For most books Ginger has sold she's initially sent out the submission to 12 editors. In special cases she's sent the submission out to upwards of 27 editors (and she notes that 25% of those 27 were at Penguin Random House, which is the strange reality of big houses merging into even bigger houses these days).
The most important 'gets' in a contract to Ginger are:
Translation rights, British rights, audio rights, joint vs. separate accounting on multiple book deal royalties (you want separate accounting!!) Ginger will only take joint accounting deals unless there are no other offers OR the publisher is offering them an insane amount of money. Other than that, deal-killers are up to the client, says Ginger.
Ginger's last bit of advice:
When picking an agent, pick someone you think will be a great advocate for you and will be a great, professional advice-giver—don't pick someone only because you think they could be your best friend, or that reminds you of your mom or Peter Capaldi, or because they own a wombat.
|(l-r) Peter Capaldi as Malcolm Tucker; wombat from How To Negotiate Everything