Agent Hunting – Part 4

Part 1: Sharpen Your Tools
Part 2: Learn About Your Prey So You Don’t Become Prey Yourself
Part 3: And Now you Wait

Part 4: Size Up Your Opportunities

I’d read quite a bit about “getting the call” on the Querytracker forum, and about what kinds of questions one should ask an agent who offers representation, but facing having to actually talk on the phone with an agent was both thrilling and terrifying. The email came in around 9am my time and though I was available to take that call immediately, I put it off until noon. I needed time to dig up those websites were I’d found those important questions one was supposed to ask, but mostly I needed time to calm down and pull myself together so I didn’t sound like a babbling idiot on the phone. I also needed time to call my husband at work and leave him a near-frantic phone message to call me so I could share the exciting news. I also emailed my faithful crit group–who’d endured three drafts of this novel–and promised a full report after the call. I’ve heard stories of agents cold-calling to offer representation and I’m grateful Andrea didn’t, for I would have been hyperventilating and completely unprepared.

So, with a 12 o’clock appointment for a phone conversation, I spent the three hours pulling my professionalism back together and compiling a list of questions to ask. At noon, we talked for an hour and though I’m not normally comfortable on the phone with strangers, within the first five minutes of talking to her, I’d forgotten to be nervous and knew we’d be a good fit, particularly when she mentioned books by one of my crit mates (at which point I actually did start babbling, I was so excited that she was familiar with Aliette’s books, which I love). We discussed her submission plan and she thought the draft I’d turned into her was very clean and nothing major needed fixing (she later reread it again, for a second pass and we ended up going on submission with the one I turned in.). She thought my title was weak though, that it lacked tension, something I agreed with (titles are my bane), and she talked a bit about what she liked about the manuscript and characters. I then rolled out my set of questions (most of them lifted from this very helpful blog post by Rachelle Gardner and this post at Literary Rambles). A lot of the stuff on my list she addressed in the normal course of conversation. She was very forthcoming with information, and I was thrilled to see that many of our philosophies about writing and publishing meshed. She also sent me a sample of the contract to look at and ask questions about if I had them.

I totally wanted to jump on this offer, but….

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