Q is for Questions

Artwork by Tom Torre (@CopernicusNerd)

Artwork by Tom Torre (@CopernicusNerd)

By Laura Zats

If you work very hard and are very, very patient, after an agent requests your entire manuscript they might want to have a chat with you.

What this usually means is that they’re interested in representing you. However, it does NOT mean that they’ll offer you said representation. What this conversation is meant to do is to introduce you as a person and a writer. We do this because we have to work with you, a real, live human, and not just your awesome book.

These conversations usually take the form of a chatty discussion, but really they’re an interview. Agents will ask you about your ideas, your process, your needs for communication, your bio, and your goals as a writer. We also try and suss out how easy you’ll be to work with and whether you’ll take kindly to constructive criticism.

But the writer-agent phone conversation is not just an interview for the author. It’s an interview for the agent too. It’s your right to ask about your agent’s business, and ask some interview questions yourself to see if their personality and working style meshes with you own.

So what should you ask about?

  • What their passion is in the book world. Figure out if they’re interested in your book for economic reasons, or because they love it.
  • What they expect from their authors. Do you need to write your book proposal? How much social media work will you need to do?
  • How interested in editorial work they are. Some agents like to work with their authors developmentally, some don’t.
  • How they like to communicate. Are they up for calling you every week, regardless of whether or not they have news?
  • What kind of connections/resources they have in the industry. Are they part of a well-respected agency? Who are their other authors? How many editors do they know personally? How much experience/help do they have with contracts?

With this list, I’m just scratching the surface of what COULD be asked. But it’s very important that you sign with someone you trust with your book, someone who you like on a personal basis, and you can see building you up for years to come.

Remember: just because someone offers to represent you doesn’t mean you have to say yes. In fact, you’re supposed to take a week or so, think it over, talk with some other agents who have your book, and pick what’s best for you. Just like you wouldn’t want us to not be that into our authors, we don’t want you to not be that into us!

So pick wisely and ask those questions!

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