“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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Finding An Agent: The head and the heart of the matter

Finding an agent is a great balance between using your head and your heart. Your head tells you to ask all the hard-hitting questions when you get an offer:

  • Which publishers/editors will you submit the book to?
  • How many deals have you done in this genre?
  • Do you see the need for revisions upon signing?
  • What’s your preferred method of communication?
  • Can I get a recommendation from a current client?

While all those (and more) are important questions to ask, you also need to follow your heart. Did the agent make you feel comfortable? Can this be a person you can hear the good and the bad from? An agent and client engage in a long-term partnership that needs a mix of affability and professionalism. You’ll know it when you find it. There’s a lot to be said about gut feelings and emotional reactions.

Agents’ public persona is something intentionally or unintentionally developed online through their website, agency listings in directories, social media like Twitter and Facebook and their blogs. Is the agent you were querying the person you thought they’d be once you got on the phone with them?

When you get an offer the way you lean–logical/methodical, emotional/sensitive, or anywhere within the spectrum–needs to be carefully reflected upon to make the best decision with the information you have.

Get the facts, but also gauge your reaction and feelings towards your offer. It’s a happy problem, but one that needs to be the best decision for you.

Continue reading Finding An Agent: The head and the heart of the matter