I’ll respond to this question the same way Steve Laube responds to many publishing questions: “It depends.”
First of all, it depends on what offers you’re receiving. In choosing between several or even two offers, look at the overall offers to decide which course to take. This is where a savvy agent, who sees many authors, publishers, and contracts, can discuss your options.
The second consideration is your situation. If money is your primary goal, going with the top-dollar offer may be your best alternative, even if those dollars come with a few more headaches. Agents can and do provide plenty of aspirin.
If creative fulfillment is your top priority and money is secondary, choosing a publisher with a lesser advance but a more “we’re a family here” approach may appeal more to you.
Scheduling is another factor. If you’re a slow writer, signing a contract with a quick turnaround time for your books might cause more stress than you need. Again, talk to your agent about how to schedule your work. On the other hand, if you’re a quick writer thriving on the energy and demand of multiple deadlines, a schedule of a book a year may sound like a form of slow torture. This is where you need to talk strategy with your agent.
Do you love to market? Let your agent know about your enthusiasm or lack thereof before you hit the road with your books.
Do what you feel is the Lord’s will for your life and ministry.
First and foremost, even before your agent presents your books to publishers, be honest with your agent about your career goals. We all know you want to be published. Beyond that, what are your priorities? What is your situation? How will this career make your situation better? We can partner with you to help your career work for you.