Craft · publishing

Questions to ask Agents on The Call

So you’ve queried agents and one has emailed you asking for a phone call! This is amazing. Time to celebrate!

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Now, you’re probably thinking about and worrying about what to talk about on the call. For my calls the first part was amazing. The agents talking about how much they loved my manuscript and how they’d try to sell it to the perfect editor for my story. The next part wasn’t as fun but still amazing, because they gave an idea of what their notes were for revisions. How they’d strengthen the story to make it the best it could be before submission. I’ll be honest, it was a lot, but it was great to get the professional opinion of an agent on my book baby. But then came the dreaded words, “Do you have any questions for me?”

So, that’s where this post comes in. I’m going to provide you with some questions that I asked agents on the call (and I want to give a shout out thank you to CPs and other writers who gave me advice before my call and who helped me compile this list)

  • Does the agent feel that the project is ready for submission to publishers, or will she require revisions before submission? (it’s possible the agent has already answered this on the call, but if they haven’t it’s good to ask)
  • If she thinks it needs revisions, are they small tweaks, or does she want a major plot or character development change? (it’s also possible the agent has already answered this on the call, but if they haven’t it’s good to ask)
  • What would be your timeline for submitting?
  • Which publishing houses do you believe would be a good fit for my book? (In general, pay attention to the mix of publishing houses. A good agent will at least try to submit to a big five even if you consider your book niche. They should have connections there that they can try to reach out to when they’re putting out feelers
  • How many editors do you plan to pitch in the first round of submissions? (From personal experience and stories from friends, this number can range from 6-20. Yes, that’s a huge range, but the agent should have a good reason for why they are submitting to the number of editors they are and you’re allowed to ask for those reasons)
  • Would you still support me if I wrote outside my current category (YA/MG/Adult/PB) or genre (SFF, Contemporary, Horror, etc)?
  • Are you interested in representing only this project, or all my future books? (They should be there for the long haul. Perhaps there are some writers who only want to write one book and never publish again, but in general, most writers have many stories floating around and your agent should be there for that)
  • Would you allow me to contact a couple of your clients? (One who has sold, one who hasn’t at least)
  • How hands-on are you in the revision process?
  • How hands-on are you in publicity for your authors?
  • What do you share with your clients during the submission process? How often do you like to update them on status?
  • What’s your communication preference with your clients? (Email, phone)
  • Does your agency handle subsidiary rights (film, foreign, audio)? How involved are you with that process?
  • Do you enjoy agenting and do you see yourself being an agent for the long-term? (This question might seem silly to ask, but it’s important to make sure your agent’s career goals are in sync with yours)
  • If I sign with you, what will happen next?
  • Can I get a blank copy of the agency agreement to look over?

Now it’s time to let other agents know that you have an offer and set a deadline for them to get back to you.

Some Extra Resources:

Susan Dennard’s post on The Call: http://susandennard.com/2010/12/how-i-got-my-agent-part-4-the-calls/

Natalie Traver’s post on multiple offers: http://natalietraver.blogspot.com/2013/10/from-zero-to-hero-awesome-stressfulness.html

Agent Query post on offers: http://www.agentquery.com/writer_or.aspx

http://www.rachellegardner.com/2010/08/what-to-ask-an-agent/

http://literaticat.blogspot.com/2011/04/on-agency-agreements.html

Stay tuned for our next post on what to ask client referrals. And if you have any additional questions to ask agents we’d love to hear them!

 

2 thoughts on “Questions to ask Agents on The Call

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