The Agent Call & 10 Questions to Ask

Your querying journey will likely culminate in “The Call,” which is when an agent that you’ve sent your full manuscript to invites you to hop on a phone call or video chat with them, which most often leads to an offer of representation.

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! It’s no small feat and should be celebrated to the fullest.

Although The Call can cause all kinds of jitters, it doesn’t have to be stressful. During The Call, you’ll likely hear the agent gush about your project, want to know more about what you’re working on next, and overall sell you on themselves and their agency.

It’s important to note that even if an agent invites you on a call and offers you representation, you do not have to accept it. Be ready to interview them as much as it might seem they’re interviewing you. Before the end of The Call, be sure to ask to be connected to two or three of their clients prior to making your decision to sign with them and their agency. It is also standard practice to ask for two weeks to consider their offer of representation (you can ask for more time as well, if necessary) during which you can reach out to other agents with your fulls, partials, or query and see if they’re interested in offering representation.   

A few ways you can prepare for The Call include knowing about the agent and agency in terms of who they represent that you’re familiar with and any recent deals they might have brokered, thinking about what future projects are on your queue you can chat about, and preparing questions.

Below are 10 questions to consider including in your list:

  1. Are you planning to represent just this project or my career? How do you typically develop a writer’s career? And are you willing to represent books I write for age groups and genres outside of your norm? Career building and planning is definitely something that your agent should have some idea on. A lot depends on what happens with project one, etc, but you can get an overall idea from them. These questions will give you an idea if the agent usually represents writers per project or for their career. If an agent will only represent you on a project-by-project basis, having a long-term idea of when you will need to possibly start looking for a new agent can save you lots of heartache in the future.
  2. Are you an editorial agent? Why or why not? Meaning, will they revise the manuscript with you beforehand or just do small edits and send it off to editors. Both have their pros and cons, and one might matter to you more.
  3. How many clients do you have and how do you juggle your workload with your clients? You can also ask: On average how long does it take to get a project on submission?
  4. What is your communication style? And how fast are you able to reply to client emails? If you’re someone who expects day-of answers on questions or issues that might arise, asking a potential agent how quickly they respond to requests from clients will give you an idea on whether their communication style matches your expectations.
  5. How does your agency support you? Feeling supported by your agency is just as important as feeling supported by your agent. Especially if the agent you’re speaking to is newer to the industry, knowing their support and mentorship system is important!
  6. What are some projects you’ve recently sold or signed? If you write sci-fi and all they’ve sold recently are contemporaries in a different age group that’s good to consider!
  7. What changes do you think my manuscript needs, if any? If there are things you are not willing to change that the agent mentions, better to have the conversation before. Many agents won’t tell you everything, so you can always mention some things you don’t want to change, too.
  8. Do your clients talk to one another? Does your agency do any type of conferences or events for writers within the agency to meet? Are you a social person? Networking within your agency can always be helpful.
  9. How does your agency handle foreign and television/movie rights? This is a business and knowing that a potential agency has access and experience with other avenues that can make you income is awesome!
  10. How does your agency support marginalized writers/writers of color? Knowing beforehand how your agency supports their Latinx clients, can help you feel more at home even if the agent you sign with isn’t Latinx.

There are many other questions you can ask based on what’s important to you as a writer. These can be regarding an agents list, editorial eye, or even contract questions.

Now that you’re more familiar with The Call, whether it ends in an offer of representation or not, we hope that you’re feeling better prepared to take a massive and important step toward reaching your traditional publishing goals.

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