If you’ve ever considered getting traditionally published, you probably know you need an agent if you want to submit to large publishers. You may even realize you should not only have a completed and polished manuscript ready but also a query letter and at least one synopsis. If you need help with your query or synopsis, I offer critique packages. Take a look here. But that’s not what this post is about.
Are you ready for THE CALL, when the agent has read your manuscript and calls you to discuss possible representation? While most agents will make this call because they know they want to represent you, that’s not always the case. Some call to let you down easy and make suggestions on how to improve. And others want to see if the two of you click before they make their final decision. Your best bet? Be ready.
As soon as the agent asks for a partial or your full manuscript, you should take the time to really research her (if you hadn’t already done so before querying). Most of the writers I’ve talked to had done their homework. They researched agents before they decided whom to query, but they didn’t necessarily take notes until agents requested more. That’s fine, as long as you go back and take those notes once you’ve heard from an agent. You don’t want to ask her questions that you should’ve been able to answer yourself after having done a simple Google search, or you’ll come across as naïve, unprofessional, or possibly lazy. Not the greatest way to impress an agent.
What kind of things can you learn about an agent before she calls you? If you join PublishersMarketplace, you can see who has sold what over the past year. This is a great way to discover who’s active and who isn’t. Plus, it helps you verify whether the agent actually represents your genre or not. Just because an agent posts that she’s open to YA doesn’t mean she’s sold anything in that genre. She might want to, though. How important is it to you whether or not she has sold in your genre?
You can also learn who her clients are and check them out. Go to their websites and blogs. Find out what kind of books they write, and you’ll know the types of books the agent likes. If you can locate interviews on the agent, you might be able to find some written by her clients, so you can get a feel for what kind of agent she is and how happy they are with her. Or maybe the interview will be thorough enough for you to determine if she’s an editorial agent or not. Does she help with marketing? Does she want her clients to have an online presence? What does she like about being an agent? The last thing you need is an agent who’s just going through the motions. You need to ensure your agent loves her job.
So, let’s say you’ve done your homework and found out as much as you could about the agents who have your partials and fulls. Is that enough? Probably not. There will usually be questions you should ask the agents if for no other reason than to hear the answer come from them.
But what should you ask? Come back next week, and we’ll take a look at some possible questions you can ask an agent who’s interested in representing you. It’s important to interview agents, because the wrong fit or a bad agent is worse than not having an agent at all.
If you’ve already gone through this process, maybe you’d like to share questions you asked the agent(s) who called you. We’d love to hear from you.
Note: I used female pronouns when referring to agents in this post simply to make it easier to read, not because male agents don’t exist. ☺