The rest of the news is once again I went from major delight to massive doubt. What if, when THE CALL finally comes, I experience a total mind melt? How will I remember even one of the questions I've been wanting to ask since the idea for GIFT first came to me?
So, in true Fayard fashion, I started making a list. And because I hope none of my pre-published friends puts herself thought what I do—although it does seem to come with the territory of being a writer—below are my 24 top topics. Not that I except there'll be time to ask all of these, but it's nice to have some options to choose among. :)
All of these questions are applicable for both agents and editors, with the exception of the Shopping my Manuscript with Editors section, which is just for agents. So here they are, not in any order of importance but sorted into mini categories:
- What made you decide to represent my work?
- To what extent are you an editorial agent?
- What revisions do you have in mind for this manuscript?
- Why do you want to represent me?
- How would you describe the ideal client?
- Will I be working solely with you, or will there be times I'll work with an associate or assistant?
- Does your agency handle the sale of subsidiary rights such as foreign, film, audio, translation and other subrights, or do you have a relationship with a sub-agent who handles the sale of these rights on your behalf?
- What questions do you have for me?
SHOPPING MY MANUSCRIPT WITH EDITORS
- Of the books you're currently representing/have recently repped, what percentage have been in my genre? Better yet, check Publisher's Marketplace to see how many deals the agent has made in the last year, overall, to whom and for how much and whether any of the recent deals were in your genre.
- Which publishing houses are you considering for my book?
- How many editors will you pitch to in the first wave? Six or more is average for most commercial and genre fiction. Fewer than three should give you pause. One at a time is a bad answer.
- Will you keep me updated as offers and rejections come in? When editors decline to buy your book, if your agent doesn't automatically forward copies of the declination letters, simply ask for them.
- Will you keep me abreast of where and when my work was submitted?
- How many houses do you plan to submit to overall if my manuscript doesn't sell as soon as hoped? After six months and definitely after a year without a sale, request a full submission list from your agent. This list should cite all the editors who have reviewed your manuscript, and it will give you confidence that your agent is submitting your work to the right editors and imprints. If it's been a year and your book still hasn't sold despite your agent getting it reviewed by many editors, then that's OK. Your agent isn't a bad agent, and you're not a bad writer. Your book just didn't sell.
- Will my manuscript come out as an eBook as well?
OUR FUTURE PARTNERSHIP
- If you can't sell this manuscript, will you look at my other work or help me develop a new project?
- Do you represent clients book by book or on a career basis?
- How involved do you like to be in working with your clients on developing new ideas?
- To what extent will you be working with me on career planning?
- Do you work with a publicist?
- What marketing will you do to complement my marketing plan?
- What can I do to increase my book's chances of selling?
- How many review copies will you provide?
- How frequently do you update authors? For submission status, once a month is standard.
- Do you have a preference for communication type?
- How quickly do you respond to client questions?
- Are there any situations where you'd make decisions on my behalf?
Online articles that were invaluable to me in preparing this list include:
- http://www.agentquery.com/writer_or.aspx; and
Ready for some more positive news? Anyone who can write tens of thousands of words, endure innumerable critiques and gracefully receive rejection letters has what it takes to professionally handle The Call. Then let the squee-ing begin!