“The Call” Reversed: What agents like to know about potential authors

contract signingAuthors are usually busy studying up for “the call” (an agent reaching out via phone to offer representation) when they know it’s on the horizon. It’s an exciting time for authors and agents! Resources are everywhere and there are many great guides to “the call” including these:

However, what about the flip side? What do agents like to know about writers when we offer?

What agents like to know about potential fiction authors:

  • What are you working on next?
  • How long does it take you to write a draft?
  • Who are some of your favorite authors?
  • What kind of support are you looking for?
  • What has been your path to publishing? Agented before? Published before?
  • How do you workshop your work? Critique group?
  • Where do your ideas come from?
  • What is your day job? And what does your writing schedule look like?
  • What are some of your career goals and expectations?
  • How many other agents are looking at the manuscript?
  • Do my editorial notes match your vision for the book?
  • How do you feel about social media?

Why I want to know these things:

This is a sample of some of the questions I like to know answers to when I’m getting to know a potential author. Some of the most important things are that we share the same vision for this book and your career, and that we have similar taste in books we read for fun. I like to know that writers have a strong work ethic and a writing group they work with so I’m not the sole provider of feedback. I want to know about your publishing history even if it’s not clean and tidy–often it isn’t. I like to know your patterns like how fast you write and when you write, plus the best time to get in contact with you.

Is it about the answers?

You don’t need “perfect” answers to these questions. It’s nothing you can study for. At the end of the day we want to work with writers who we get along with, whose work we love and feel passionate about, who have a career path that we feel we can assist in, and who trust us.

That call is about both of us deciding we’re a fit. Just because you get an offer doesn’t mean you have to take it. 

Q: What have you been asked on “the call” or hope to be asked?

Further reading:

7 ways to make yourself an easy author to work with

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20 thoughts on ““The Call” Reversed: What agents like to know about potential authors

    1. Rare! We do a lot of research first.

      However, sometimes I call an author that I’m serious about representing, but to chat about revisions first and let them know we’ll chat about representation once the revisions are complete.

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  1. This is the best part of it “That call is about both of us deciding we’re a fit. Just because you get an offer doesn’t mean you have to take it.”

    Even if that call arrives, an author has to find a ‘match’ on many more aspects than purely professional ones. Deciding a a blind date is, de facto, a blindsided decision.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Reblogged this on Wild and Woolly Wordsmithing and commented:
    Had to share this one. Great insight on what an agent is looking for in an author. Some of these are questions I never would have thought to have an answer for but make perfect business sense from an agent’s point of view. Thanks, story reading ape, for bringing this to my attention! Much appreciated! Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your blog provides helpful information. I’m scheduled to meet with you at the Florida Writers Conference this weekend. Should be a terrific conference.

    Like

  4. Do you tell an agent that you’re on “exploratory” calls with other agents? These calls consist mostly of conversation but no offer of representation YET.

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  5. Really helpful blog post, thank you! Always good to get some more insight into what agents are looking for and how the process works.

    Like

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