What to Ask a Literary Agent Who Wants to Represent You

questions to ask a literary agent

This is the moment you’ve been dreaming of. A literary agent responds to your query with an offer of representation and asks to set up a phone call to discuss the details. You’re flooded with emotions from disbelief to elation, but then worry about this incredibly important, imminent conversation with a stranger sets in. What will the two of you talk about?

Even though you’ve been refreshing your inbox with bated breath for this news for months, you need to remain calm. While your prospective agent may be a rockstar in your eyes, you should try not to approach the conversation like a rabid Justin Bieber fan. “I can’t believe I’m talking to you right now!”

Instead, ground yourself by entering the conversation prepared. The purpose of this conversation is to make sure this agent is the correct agent for you. She or he will be the champion of your novel. You two will be working together in an incredibly important capacity and entering into a business partner relationship. 

How do you know if they are the right agent for you? These questions may help you find the answer.

Questions to Ask A Literary Agent

Questions about your working relationship:

  1. Is my manuscript ready for submission to publishers? If not, what changes would you like to see me make to get it ready?
  2. Will we be signing for just this one book? Or would you represent me for future projects as well?
  3. Will you be working with me in an editorial capacity? What is your process for that?
  4. Will we be working together directly? Or is there a liaison at your agency I’ll be primarily communicating with?
  5. Can you tell me about your submission strategy for my book?
  6. What publishers do you believe would be a good fit for this book?
  7. How will you position my book to publishers? Will you be pitching my book as (the genre stated in my query letter) or do you see it fitting better elsewhere?
  8. Will you give me any updates on the status of the submission (what publishers you send to and their responses)? 
  9. If I write another book in a new genre, would you be interested and able to represent that book?
  10. What happens if my book doesn’t sell in six months? a year?
  11. Once we sign the contract, what are our next steps?
  12. If a publisher sends us an offer, what are the next steps?
  13. While my book is on submission, is there anything I can do to help?
  14. What was it about my book that made you want to represent it?

Questions about the agent themselves:

  1. How many authors do you represent?
  2. How did you get started as an agent?
  3. How involved are you in an editing capacity?
  4. What is your preferred way of communicating? (email, text, phone)
  5. What qualities make your ideal client?
  6. Do you work with co-agent for international and film rights?
  7. What is your commission rate?

Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. Consider your goals for your book. Do you believe this agent can help you achieve them? 
  2. Did you click with the agent on the call? Do your personalities seem to mesh?
  3. Do you want to be a big-name agent’s smallest client? Or a less-seasoned agent’s most important one?
  4. Are you comfortable with the way the agent communicates?
  5. Are you satisfied with the terms of the contract?

Good Luck

This is a very exciting step on your publishing journey. I know it may feel like a lot of pressure to make the right decision regarding your agent, but don’t forget to celebrate this milestone achievement! Someone loves your book enough to fight for it to be published. That is a beautiful, amazing thing. Congratulations!

I hope this information was helpful. If you’d like to reach out to me, send a message on twitter @CandiceJarrett or leave me a comment below. Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter for writing, publishing, and book marketing tips!

More Reading

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10 Questions to Ask an Agent Before You Sign

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Advice for Writers: What to Ask a Literary Agent