You’ve been querying and daydreaming about the day you receive “The Call.” The call where you’ll hear a voice say the lovely words, “I want to represent you and your book” (or something like that). Glorious Heaven, light is shining around you and music is playing in the air and angels are dancing and it’s the most beautiful moment because AN AGENT WANTS YOU.
But now what? Do you just say yes and hope they’re the best fit for you? Maybe you better ask them some questions first. While I’m sure you’ve done your homework about agents and submitted to ones you already would feel relatively comfortable with, there’s only so much research you can do without actually talking to the agent him/herself. It’s also good to know if you two will be a good fit for each other.
All right. You’ve got them on the phone, they’re interested, so what do you ask?
Here are suggestions: (Pro tip: Don’t ask all of these. Find the ones you like or the ones you need and ask those. You don’t want to overwhelm them or yourself.)
About your project
- What does the agent like best about your project?
- Does the agent feel that the project is ready for submission to publishers, or will she require revisions before submission? Are they small tweaks, or does she want a major plot or character development change?
- Which publishing houses does the agent believe would be a good fit for your book?
- How many editors does she plan to pitch in the first round of submissions?
- Will the agent consult with you on all offers from publishers? Does the agent make any decisions on your behalf?
- Does the agent forward rejection letters to you?
- What kind of editing does the agent do? Are they a hands-on editor where they’ll provide feedback before submitting it or do they wait for an editor to do that?
- What can you do to help sell the book and secure a book deal?
- Will the agent represent this one book/series or everything you write? What about books of a different genre?
About your interactions
- How often will she update you regarding the status of your submissions?
- Does the agent prefer phone or email, or are they okay with both?
- How often does the agent want you to check in?
- What happens when the agent is on vacation?
- If they were to step down as an agent, would you be given to another agent within the same agency?
- If they were to switch agencies, would you go with them or would you stay with the agency under a different agent?
About the money (don’t be afraid to ask these!)
- How long after the agent receives advances and royalties will they send them to you?
- Does the agent charge for mailing? Copies? Faxes? Phone calls? Any other fees?
As you ask these questions, listen to, not only the answers, but how the agent responds. Will you two get along? Though this isn’t a necessity, I’m sure this makes things one hundred times easier.
IMPORTANT: It is perfectly acceptable to say you need a few days to think about their offer. Go home, squeal, celebrate, enjoy life, but also consider the hard questions. Make sure you’re comfortable with them. And, if you have other agents with full manuscripts, ask for a couple weeks to get back to the agent offering representation. Be sure to let those reviewing your full know you have an offer, as it does two things: 1) it will likely speed up their response and 2) you don’t waste the agent’s time when they come back in two months and you’ve already accepted the other agent’s offer.
Now that you’re prepared for The Call, good luck. 🙂
I borrowed questions from these wonderful sources. Check out their websites for more information and other great material.