“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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‘It’s not you. It’s me’: why agents don’t connect with certain projects

It’s hard to understand why when agents say they are looking for a certain type of book, and then you query with it, that it isn’t the right fit for them.

Here’s why that happens:

We represent something similar

If we recently took on a project that has similarities to yours we cannot sign yours up too. It’s not fair to our client and it’s not fair to you. We can’t bombard editors with two projects similar to each other and risk the success of both of them individually.

The voice doesn’t grab us

It might have everything going for it, but for some reason the voice or main character doesn’t speak to us in particular so we need to pass because we’re not the best fit. Agents sign projects up when they are the whole package–in our eyes. But, every agent’s taste is different so what isn’t a fit for one agent can be the whole package in someone else’s eyes.

We like it, but aren’t head over heels for it

Sometimes we like something a lot, but love is different than like. Sometimes we want to love something, but we can’t get there for any number of reasons. Forcing a good fit doesn’t work out for anyone. Don’t settle for like, keep searching for an agent that loves it and they’ll be the right one to represent and support your project and your writing.

It requires more work than we have time to give  Continue reading ‘It’s not you. It’s me’: why agents don’t connect with certain projects

Thought you had your agent for life? What happens if your agent leaves the business?

Well you thought you had your agent for your entire career, but what happens if they leave the business? It happens all the time. I’ve recently had a couple clients come to me through this process. Here is a small guide on how to proceed.

  1. Never burn your bridges when you are querying. You never know what will happen.
  2. Before your agent leaves get a list of all the places your book was submitted.
  3. Did they offer another agent at that agency to represent you? This is often the case.
  4. Did you get multiple offers when you started out? Go back to the agents who were interested originally and query again letting them know the situation.
  5. You can start querying fresh all over again. But, with representation behind you, or a book already sold, you’ll rise to the top of many slush piles.
  6. If you have an editor already they might be able to help you in search for a new agent through some easy recommendations. Continue reading Thought you had your agent for life? What happens if your agent leaves the business?