Friday, February 8, 2013

The One Piece of Advice I Give Writers with Offers of Representation

I've said this, like, twenty times in the last couple of months, so I thought I'd say it here and get it out once and for all:) There's only one thing I tell writers with offers of representation (besides congratulations, of course), and it's this:

Before you make your decision, you MUST correspond with at least one of their clients.

You can read interviews, follow blogs, stalk Twitter feeds, and even comb the deal listings on Publishers Marketplace, but the only way to find out what agents are really like is to talk to the people who work with them day in and day out. Here are some questions you might think about asking:

--What are some of the agent's greatest strengths?
--What is the agent's greatest weakness?
--Is the agent more or less editorial? (For more commentary on this question, check out this post.)
--How often do you generally correspond? Does the agent prefer to talk via phone or e-mail?
--On average, how quickly does the agent respond to your e-mails/calls? (Anything longer than forty-eight hours should worry you; most agents I know respond to their clients' correspondence in less than twenty-four.)
--If you knew then what you know now, would you sign with this agent again?

Last but not least, if you can work up the courage, I'd ask to talk to TWO clients, one published and one not. Most published authors are going to give their agents glowing reports, but you'll probably glean more information from their unpublished clients. And information is precisely what you need to go into an agent-author relationship with your eyes wide open.

24 comments:

Jess said...

Great advice~ thanks for sharing the list of questions!

Aurora Smith said...

Excellent advice!

Amy Jarecki said...

Fantastic advice. I'm going to tweet about this...And I've got a query critique contest going on my blog if anyone is interested in having their query critiqued before they land that "dream" agent!

Janet Johnson said...

Awesome advice! I agree 100% :)

Kayeleen Hamblin said...

Good advice, as always.

BTW, I saw your blog listed on BookShelf Muses as one of the great blogs for writers. Good work, I say. Good work!

Tracey Joseph said...

Great advice. Very well said!

Rachel said...

Thank you for this advice. I can imagine with all the excitement of getting an offer, some writers may overlook this crucial part of the process. It's good to be reminded. :)

Myrna Foster said...

Definitely talk to an agent's unpublished client. If that client gives a glowing report, the agent is golden.

Great advice!

Anna Ingwersen said...

Great advice. Wish I knew this before signing and leaving my first agent!

Michael G-G said...

I love your agent insights, Krista. Spot on. (And yes, I also noticed your blog's pride of place on The Bookshelf Muse list. You rock!)

Jenilyn Collings said...

This is excellent advice! Thanks!!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great advice. Thanks so much. I'm going to be querying later this year and will definitely keep this in mind.

Delia Moran said...

Excellent information, Krista. Thank you!

chasingthecrazies said...

Krista:

Thank you for writing this. I always wondered if it was ok to talk to the other clients.

As always, thanks for providing your fellow writers with great info!

HeatherCRaglin said...

I'd never thought of that and haven't heard anyone else suggest it. Great advice. Thanks!

Alison Bliss said...

I agree it'd be a good idea to talk with the agent's clients, but there's a flip side of that coin. People in general are different. Their client may give a glowing review because they are okay with the more laid back approach, while you are hoping to find an agent who is more hands-on. It comes down to asking the RIGHT questions. Make a list of traits you want in an agent and then use the list to ask questions to their clients. If you don't know what you want, you won't know which questions to ask.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Thanks for all your comments! I'm glad you found the post helpful.

Kayeleen and Michael, thanks for letting me know about that shout-out on The Bookshelf Muse!

And Alison, you make a great point. Not every agent is right for every writer, so you need to make sure you know what YOU want so you can ask the right questions.

Stephanie Garber said...

Thanks for this post, Krista! I think this is great advice.

Leslie S. Rose said...

Super advice and a kickin' list of questions. There are a few on there I didn't have on my list. I'm adding them immediately.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Glad you found it helpful, Stephanie and Leslie!

Ben Spendlove said...

I hope I can put this particular bit of advice to use sometime.

(BTW, I'm rewriting the climax and ending, and I think you'll like it. A lot. :)

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Ooh, exciting, Ben! I'd love to hear more about these changes (when you have a chance, of course). And I sincerely hope you get to put this bit of advice to use sometime, too:)

MTS said...

Great advice, Krista. Thanks!

Krista Van Dolzer said...

No problem, MTS!