Monday, October 18, 2010

What to ask an agent

I got quite a lot of responses on my post about making sure you're picking the best agent for you. Many of you expressed interest in what my list would be in what to look for/ask a prospective agent. So here is the list I came up with when I was trying to decide on my agent:

1. What did you like the most about my book?
2. Do you see or want any major edits done before submitting it, or is it ready?
3. What is your editing style?
4. What is your agenting style? (Hands on? Phone calls, emails, lots of communication or minimal?)
5. How often will you be updating me regarding the status of your submissions?
6. How many editors do you plan to pitch to in the first round?
7. What editors/houses do you have in mind to pitch it to?
8. Are you interested in repping just this, or all of my future projects?
9. Do you handle subsidiary/foreign rights?
10. Do you have someone on your staff who checks royalty statements for accuracy and errors?
11. Do you have a written agreement?

Those were the main questions I came up with, and actually printed off with a pen handy for my phone conversations with agents. It helped me find out some major points to expect in our professional relationship: What are his/her thoughts on my book? Are we going to be doing major/minor/no revisions? and how does he/she prefer to revise/edit? Is this agent going to be very personable with lots of contact by email and phone, or very distant--just the basic communications, only when absolutely necessary? What is their plan for my book and my career? Is this book the only one they are interested in or do they want to be an advocate for my whole career? How will all the details of a deal be taken care of? You should have a very clear idea of what your relationship and career would be like with this agent after you get the answers to all of these questions.

However, the most important part of these questions is knowing what YOU want. What kind of agent do you want/need? If you're not sure, try answering the questions how you wish an agent would answer, and that will help you figure it out. I hope this was helpful! Any additional thoughts or questions, let me know and we can continue the discussion on Wednesday if you'd like. Hope you had a great weekend!

16 comments:

Amie B said...

that's very helpful! but i think when we've been querying so long (at least for me) i feel like i'll just be so thrilled when someone says YES that i won't even think to ask anything!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Great questions. Hopefully when day I'll actually get to ask them. :D

Colene Murphy said...

Awesome questions! Hopefully I will be able to used them someday!

L.T. Elliot said...

Good questions! And excellent advice about knowing what you want before you ask them. =]

Hope you're feeling all right from the accident!

Jamie Grey said...

Great questions - thanks for the resource. I'm hoping I'll get to ask them sooner, rather than later!

Kathryn said...

Wow - I'm really impressed by those questions. I would never have thought of some of those. You were definitely prepared! Thanks for the list! :)

Patti said...

Thanks for the list. I had been trying to compile my own and wasn't sure what to ask, so this is great.

Trisha Leaver said...

Awesome questions and a great starting point for a conversation with an offering agent. It's good to have these questions written down and handy. A few of us have been caught off guard when an agent calls and offers rep. I would've killed to have these questions back then. Sure would've saved me the embarrassment of a whole lot of umms . . . okay . . . and are you serious?

Shallee said...

These are great-- thanks for sharing the things you've learned with us!

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Super questions, Sara!
You've written some really helpful agent posts, my dear! This one is definitely print worthy.

Carolyn V. said...

This is such a great list of questions Sara! I'm going to have to print these out and save them. =)

Mystery Robin said...

Those are great questions! But there's part of me that feels like I'll be afraid to ask them...

Jennie Bailey said...

Sara, you rock. This is yet another of your great posts! I can't tell you how many I have bookmarked for when the time comes. In fact, if I ever get published, I'm putting you in the Acknowledgements. Seriously!

Sara B. Larson said...

I'm so glad that this post seems to be so helpful to so many of you. Your comments have really made me feel like sharing my thoughts (however inconsequential they feel to me) is meaningful to my readers and friends. To have more than one of you say you will print this off? Wow. That's amazing.

Jennie - Seriously?! Wow, I'm so glad that my posts have been that helpful! You just made my (otherwise bleak) day so much better. :)

Janiel Miller said...

Oh yeah. Very helpful. And I appreciate your total honesty and openness about everything too.

Thanks!

Cindy R. Wilson said...

This is a great list--thanks! I hope I have the chance to ask an agent questions like this soon :)