Okay, so you’ve sent out your queries and it’s likely you’ve received some passes. But then you get a response asking if you’re available to chat. This is the call!

To be honest, the call doesn’t always end in an offer, but at the very least it does mean serious interest and potentially a revision request.

During the call, you’re both interviewing each other. When I call with the possibility of offering, I generally:

  • Talk about what I loved about the manuscripts, and what I would want to see revised.
  • Ask what sort of career the author would like for themselves. I’m trying to get a sense of their expectations, and make sure that we’re a good fit in that way. (E.g, if they say “This book is middle grade, but my passion is writing adult literary fiction,” then that would not be a good fit for me.) Be honest with what you want – you’re only doing yourself a disservice otherwise.
  • Explain how I work as an agent. How often you can expect to hear from me, how I handle my submissions, what my editorial process is like, etc.
  • Talk about what I see as the next steps for them should they sign.
  • Go over the author-agency agreement in broad strokes.
  • Ask any questions I might have about their previous publications, representation, etc. if applicable.

Once we’ve talked about the above, it’s time for the author to ask me questions. Once you get off the phone, you should have a sense of:

  • How that agent sees your book and whether you agree or disagree with that revision or submission direction.
  • What they can do to make your career goals possible. (E.g., Do they work with foreign and film sub-agents? Are they an editorial agent or not – and which would you prefer to work with? Etc.)
  • Does it sound like your communication styles match?
  • Does their agency sign you for one book or for your whole career?
  • What happens if the relationship isn’t working out?
  • The financial terms of their agency agreement.
  • What is the make-up of their client/sales list. (This can be researched beforehand, so if you have any particular questions you can ask.)

If you get off the phone and you have additional questions once you’re going through everything, you should always feel like you can email with follow up questions. It’s also much more common now to ask to speak to some of that agent’s other clients, to get a sense of what it’s like to work with them from a fellow author or illustrator’s perspective.

Tomorrow, I’m going to talk about what to do if that call did result in an offer.

Chicken Wants a Nap by Tracy Marchini

"A surprising gem." -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Chicken Wants a Nap is available at Amazon, Barnes & NobleTarget and your favorite independent bookstore!

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