If you’ve been querying agents, it can be a slow and disheartening process. When you finally get that offer of representation, it can be overwhelming and because you fear the chance may never come again, you might be tempted to sign on the dotted line without asking some important questions! You’re going to be working with this person for a long time (hopefully!) so like any relationship, don’t enter it blindly! Here are my top five questions to ask an agent.
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1. How did you come to be an agent and how long have you been doing it?
Don’t you want to know who you’re working with? I’m not saying you need to know their inside leg measurements or what they prefer for breakfast, but if you’re going to have conversations about your career with this person, then it’s good to know a bit about them. You need to know you’re going to get on and that you’re not going to dread taking their phone calls. This needs to be someone you can be honest with about what you want, where you want to go and what you to achieve. Anything less and you’re not going to make the most of this amazing opportunity.
2. How do you like to work?
This question will most likely come up a few times as you start working together and encounter different problems and worries in your career. For example, once you’ve got a publisher, you might not like your editor. You might not like your cover, or you might have a great relationship but be glad of your agent when it comes to negotiating contracts.
On a day to day basis, it’s good to know and discuss how much contact you want and are likely to have. If you like to catch up more often than they do (or can) then this might not be the agent for you. Basically, you need to make sure that you feel happy to ask your agent this whenever the need arises. Honesty is key!
3. Which publishers do you have in mind for my manuscript?
You need to know who they’ll be talking too. It also helps make sure you’re both on the same page about expectations. If you raise this early, then you’ll get an idea of who and what they know about the industry and your genre.
4. Where do you see me being positioned? Who would be comparable authors?
This isn’t always something we think about because it seems too much of a dream! No one wants to risk their dream when they’re within spitting distance of actually achieving it, but I think this is definitely worth asking. You might see yourself as a laugh out loud romcom writer like Mhairi McFarlane, while the prospective agent sees you as more of a heart-warming Heidi Swain. Knowing where you’re likely to be positioned and with who will give you an idea of where your writing fits in the market.
You might have had to give comparable authors in your query letter, but that doesn’t always mean the world agrees! Knowing this in advance can help you manage your expectations and understand your position in the industry.
5. What happens if the book doesn’t sell, will we work another?
This is a horrible question to even think about, but be brave! Sometimes books don’t hit amazing sales figures for a number of reasons. It might help put your mind at rest to know the worst case scenario before you sign up. That way, you know exactly what you’re getting yourself in for.
And of course, don’t forget to do your research first! Before you speak to them, find out who’s on their list, if they’re a member of the Association of Author’s Agents, and what the agency does about subsidiary rights. Most will tell you on their websites how they handle things like translation rights etc.
I hope you found this helpful, let me know of any questions or advice you’d like to share in the comments!
The Secrets of Meadow Farmhouse – my latest read is out now!
Amelia loves her life in Paris. But with the surprise inheritance of her childhood home, she has no choice but to return to the small village of Meadowbank to restore her great-aunt’s old farmhouse. However, returning to Meadowbank means she has to confront her past, including old flame Adam, the one thing she regrets leaving behind.
When Amelia discovers a locket hidden in the farmhouse, containing the picture of a mysterious World War Two soldier, she starts to uncover the secrets of her great-aunt’s past.
With Adam on hand to help restore the farmhouse, she’s shocked by his generosity after so many years apart. As her feelings for her first love reignite, Amelia is suddenly confused as to where she truly belongs.
Can Amelia finally find where her heart truly calls home?
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