An Agent Has Offered You Representation… Now What?

The query process is often a long, draining one. While you’re busy sending out letters, refining your pitch, and collecting rejections, it can sometimes seem like you’ll never get an offer of representation. But then, after weeks, months, even years in the trenches, it happens: you get “the call.”Question Marks

Well… now what? As much as you might want to jump on their offer with a resounding “YES!” it would behoove you to ask some questions to make sure the agent is a good fit for you and your writing career. We’ve all heard that saying, “A bad agent is worse than no agent.” This is your chance to figure out if this agent is the right choice for you. So, what should you ask them?

Recently, this same question came up in a small group of RWA-SD writers, and some of the suggestions were so good, they deserved to be shared with a wider audience. So here are some questions you can – and probably should – ask a potential agent during that exciting offer of rep call:

  • Do you consider yourself to be editorial, or are you more hands-off? In other words, do they want to help revise your projects before sending them out on submission, or are they planning to send them as-is? Both agenting styles have their pros and cons, so this is really a matter of what you’re more comfortable with, and what you want out of your relationship with your agent.
  • What is your communication style? Find out how the agent prefers to get in touch with you – by phone, over email, etc. – and how often they plan to touch base.
  • Can you tell me about some of your recent deals? Get an idea of who they rep, what kind of work they’re putting out there in the world, who they’re doing business with, and what kinds of contacts they already have. Many times, this information is available on Publishers Marketplace, but if you don’t have a subscription, now’s a good time to ask about it.
  • What is your policy on self-published work? If you plan to self-pub your projects in the future, or are interested in becoming a hybrid author, you should find out their stance on self-published work ahead of time. Will they be involved or supportive? And do they expect a financial cut of your self-published projects?
  • What happens if my book doesn’t sell? Most likely, you’re signing with an agent based off of a single book or series, but there’s always a chance it won’t sell. Now’s a good time to discuss other ideas for future projects, to see if you and the agent share a long-term vision for your future and your career.

What about you? What are some things you asked your agent before signing with him/her – or what are some things you wish you’d asked?

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2 thoughts on “An Agent Has Offered You Representation… Now What?

  1. Great questions, Kristin.
    I was surprised when I checked some agents, who requested my work in Publisher’s Marketplace, and they had one or two sales that year. I know everyone has to start out in their career, but authors have had problems with agents who’ve done much more.

    • This is an excellent point, Susan, and I’m glad you brought it up. Publishers Marketplace is a fully self-reported system, meaning just because an agent only has a couple of deals in there, it doesn’t mean that’s ALL their deals. It’s best to ask the agent when you’ve got them on the phone.

      Also: when I signed with my agent, she was brand new and hadn’t yet closed a deal. She wound up being the perfect fit for me, and sold my book six months after she offered my rep. So while a long list of deals on Publishers Marketplace can be great, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee anything.

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