Thursday, February 28, 2019

Dear O'Abby: An Agent Wants A Call. Help!

Dear O'Abby,

I just got an email from an agent I submitted my MS to saying she wants to set up a call to chat with me.  I'm going to have 'The Call'!

Sorry....  I still can't quite believe I'm at this stage.  I've been dancing around the house like a lunatic for a couple of hours now, but the reality is beginning to sink in and it occurs to me that I have no clue what to say on this call.

Do you have any advice on how to handle this?


Caller # 4

Dear Caller #4,

First up, congratulations!  Getting to 'The Call' is a huge step, and a very exciting one.  But it's also a very important one, so you need to be prepared for it.

This is your opportunity to figure out if you want to work with this agent, if you feel she is the right person to represent your book and any future books you might write.  So pay attention to how you feel while you're talking to her.  When I did my 'The Call', we did it via Skype so I had the added advantage of being able to see the people I was talking to to read body language as well as tone of voice, but you may not have this option.

You should have some questions ready ahead of time.  In the excitement of actually speaking to someone who loves your book and wants to represent it, you are likely to forget a lot of what you wanted to ask, so it helps to have it written down.

Important topics to cover are the agent's experience, what their agency agreement looks like and the terms and conditions, what her preferred method of communication might be and how responsive she is to communications, editorial style and how much editorial work she feels might be needed pre-submission, how much detail you will be given about the submission process and contingencies for things like the agency closing or the agent moving on.

If at any stage the agent talks to you about money for services, that's a red flag.  An agent should only take 15% of any sales she makes.  No money should change hands between agent and client until a book is sold.

If there is anything else really important to you, note it down so you can ask about it now.  There's nothing worse than discovering six months into an agent-client relationship that something you consider non-negotiable is not possible with this agent or agency.

And good luck!  I hope the call goes well and you and your agent have a long and lucrative partnership ahead of you.

X O'Abby

1 comment:

JeffO said...

Congratulations, Caller #4!!!

Some other questions to consider: what is submission strategy? Who (generally) will they be targeting (i.e., big publishers, small press, etc.)? What did they like about this manuscript/your writing? A question Janet Reid suggests you ask: do they represent YOU or the book/manuscript?

Something that gets lost in all this desperate drive for agents: Even though we're the ones jumping through all the hoops, the author/agent relationship is a partnership. Don't be afraid to assert yourself or say what's on your mind. AND DON'T SETTLE! If you get an offer and you're really not crazy about the agent, don't sign on with the agent/agency just because they offered. Sometimes it's best to walk away.

Good luck!