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Let's say you've finally completed a manuscript for review and you don't want to self-publish, and
you receive a nibble from an agent who wants to discuss your work and asks you if you have any questions. What will your top two questions be?
Who has she or he represented in the past? What is his fee? How long will it take for her to get it to the hands of the editor? Is he or she familiar with the genre you wrote for? Can she edit your work to make it more attractive? How often do you have to meet to discuss your work?
What publishers do you intend to try first? How much are they likely to pay?
I wouldn't ask any question i couldn't look up for myself (first order of business, well before I call) My two big questions would be... 1.) How do you see us marketing my work and overall image as an author? and 2.) What contacts do you have in editing, graphics, distribution, and publication, etc. that can help us to bring my projects into the best possible light?
First question would be - "Why are you interested in me and my writing?"
Second question would be - "Why do you feel my manuscript can sell?"
One...Do you charge a fee before you sell my book to a publisher? If the answer is yes, forget it. All reputable author representitives don't charge a dime until they sell your book. Then, they take 15% and no more...
Two...Ask them what the publishers are currently looking for. Books are like any other commodity. They publishers are only interested in what is currently selling which can change from month to month. If you have a book about Christmas, you might want to hold off trying to sell it until July or so...
Your two biggest priorities are whether or not they charge a fee prior to selling the book. If they do, they are a bad agent. Good agents get you published, then take a 15% cut of they money you make. If they ask for anything up front, politely decline their help. The second priority is knowing their catalog. Make sure they publish the kind of books you write. If you wrote a non-fiction political book and they only publish fictional romance, it is a bad fit. You want someone who has connections to publishers, editors and everyone else that is familiar with your genre and knows how to handle it properly.
What will you require from me? As others will tell you do not accept an agent that wants to charge you. What publishers have you succesfully dealt with in the past? I ask this because if my genre is not something the agent usually deals with they may not have connections to a publisher that will be interested in me. Something to think about.
How would you define our respective roles as writer and agent?
How many - and what percenatge - of your clients became published authors under your watch?
Would the agent also be my lawyer?
If not, who will be responsible for my eventual options contract?
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