Tuesday, June 23, 2009

How to Handle "The Call"

Quote of the Day:
Get an agent. Make no excuses for the failure to do so. Get an agent. Otherwise you are a babe among wolves.
~Brendan Francis

I actually had the incredible opportunity to experience this recently, so I thought I'd share how I handled it. Basically....not well :D Just kidding. The days building up to the call were a conglomeration of nerves, excitement, terror, anticipation, more nerves, and huge amounts of chocolate.

But as people have told me time and time again, agents are just people. And if you are on the phone call, it is because they are interested in you and your book. It's sort of hard to remember that though when that request comes through :)

So, to help me prepare, I spent more time researching the agent (some of my questions, such as was she a member of AAR were answered on her website), talked to all of my agented friends and got some advice on what types of things I should ask the agent, read as many articles on "The Call" as I could find, and drew up a list of questions to ask during the course of our conversation. I even typed them up and printed them out with room left in for me to write the answers. :D In the end, most of the questions were answered without me having to ask, but it is good to be prepared.

I compiled my list from my kind friends' suggestions, and from the articles on Agent Query and the Querytracker Blog. This is what I ended up with:

1. Do you issue a written agent-author agreement or contract? What is the duration of the contract? What happens in the event of your death or disability? Do you make provisions for my continued representation?

2. What is your commission rate?

3. What happens if my book doesn’t sell?

4. What are your policies if we should part company for any reason?

5. How do you handle submissions? How many publishers do you submit to? Do you submit to the smaller publishers? Do you have specific editors in mind to sub to? Will you consult with me on any offers?

6. How available are you for phone calls and emails? How often will you be in touch when I’m on submission? Do you prefer email contact or by phone? Generally what is your response time?

7. Based on the sample chapters you’ve seen, do you foresee the need for a lot of revisions? Do you do line edits or just overall comments? What did you think of them? What did you like or dislike?

8. Do you have similar books to mine on your list?

9. How many clients do you represent?

10. How involved are you in working with your clients in developing ideas?

11. When you receive money for me, how quickly do you pay out my share? Will you issue a 1099 tax form at the end of the year?

12. Are you interested in just this project or are you interested in working on future projects with me?

13. What questions and expectations do you have for me?

Stay tuned tomorrow for details on how the phone call went :)


Kristal Shaff said...

Great list. :o)

Windy said...

Oh! How exciting for you!

Rebecca Knight said...

Hi, Michelle,

Thanks for the great post--this is so exciting! Congrats on getting The Call. We all knew it would happen sooner or later ;). Woot!

I have a similar list of questions on stand by for when the day comes, but I really like the way you grouped/phrased some of these. Thank you for the help and insight!

Hi, Sara,

Great post! It's so exciting to hear about your story being published and that you're getting ready to query--you ROCK!

I agree, that QueryTracker is one of the best writing forums, and best group of people, I've found so far online, and that's saying something. The support you get is unlike anywhere else.

Speaking of which, thanks for popping on my blog to keep me accountable ;). I'll have progress to report tomorrow!


Jody Hedlund said...

I didn't have a list when I got the call from Rachelle. Your's looks great! I guess I was so honored to actually get a call from her, I didn't feel like a little old beggar like me could really be too choosey!

B.J. Anderson said...

Congratulations!! And I know you'll do great on the call. Can't wait to hear how it goes.

Susan R. Mills said...

Good for you! Thanks for the list of questions. I hope to need them someday!

Tess said...

Great post! I had a list and I guess I incorporated a few of the questions into my 'call', but really he offered all the information and it was very casual and chatty - which is how I knew we were a great fit. The list did help me feel more comfortable, though -- like he was giving me the 'right' information and our conversation was fruitful.

Michelle McLean said...

exactly how I felt, Tess. I was at ease immediately and she gave me all the info I had been meaning to ask :)

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

Congratulations, Michelle! Can't wait to read more about it tomorrow!

Anonymous said...

Congrats again, Michelle. And I really like yur list...a lot *wink*!

Eric said...

Congrats Michelle. I may have said it before, but there it is again. This list is awesome, and if you don't mind, I'll steal it in the event I get my own Call. :)

eden tyler said...

I'm bookmarking this post!
Thanks for condensing all your research into one spot for the rest of us.
And--congratulations!! Good times :)
I'm hoping I'm as lucky one day...