Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Questions You MUST Ask an Agent BEFORE Signing

Are you getting ready to query? Have you been querying for a while? Have agents shown interest in your work? Do you have partial or full manuscripts in the hands of agents right now? Are you ready for THE call?

No, seriously. Are you ready for THE CALL?

Have you researched the agents you queried? Do you know what type of books they sell and what kind of deals they’re making? Do you know who their clients are? Have you researched the agents at all? If not, you’d better get to work. These are questions you should know the answers to BEFORE you get THE call. Don’t waste the agent’s time asking these things when she calls. She expects you to know everything about her already.

So, what do you ask an agent when she calls you? Here’s short list of questions you may not have thought to ask but should.

-How much revising does she think is necessary to make this story shine?
-Will she sent editorial suggestions to you and how detailed will they be?
-Does the agent see foreign rights potential? If so, how does she sell those rights (in-house person, sub-agents, or a combination of both)? How does that affect you?
-Does she see movie potential? If so, how would she sell those rights?
-Will she send you copies of emails from editors so you can follow along during the submission process?
-Does she check in with her clients or simply respond when needed?
-How available is she for phone calls and emails? What’s an approximate response time if you contact her?
-Will you work with her directly or will you be working primarily with her assistant?

These are questions you need to ask BEFORE you sign with an agent. Sure, it’s exciting to get THE call, but if you jump into a relationship that isn’t really what you wanted, you’ll regret it later. Know what you’re getting into before you sign on the dotted line.

And after talking with the agent, don’t be afraid to sleep on it. Ask yourself if you even like the agent. Is there good chemistry between the two of you? Does she love, love, love your story? If not, you might want to turn this agent down. Having the wrong agent work for you is worse than not having one at all.

What are some other questions you should ask the agent? Have you gotten THE call? How did it feel? Do you know of writers (don’t mention names) who jumped into a relationship with the first agent who offered representation and now regret it? What other advice can you offer writers who get THE call?

Lynnette Labelle


  1. Ask to see a copy of the contract you'll be signing before you say yes to an offer. Last thing you want (particularly if you have multiple offers) is to pick an agent, THEN discover their contract has clauses that fall outside AAR standards.

  2. Haven't had any requests for my novel, but I will keep these in mind. I am a research hound though, which is why I query so infrequently. I like to spend some time on their blogs/web pages first, and maybe visit some of their authors.


  3. I love this info Lynnette. Thank you for sharing. Going print this list and hold on to it for when I finally start querying.

  4. The Screaming Guppy: Great advice!

    Aubrie: Thanks!

    Donna Hole: Good. Researching agents before you query is a must.

    Landra: Glad you liked it.

    Lynnette Labelle

  5. Great advice. I'm still revising and appreciate the input.