Ask the Agent: Things to ask before you sign…

Question Mark, Question, Response, Search EngineWhen I read blog posts and articles about what to discuss with an agent before you sign on the dotted line, I frequently find myself shaking my head.  Wouldn’t you want to know that before you contacted the agent?  I think this when I read questions like:

Are you an editorial agent?  I want an editorial agent.  So I look for agents who state this outright.

Who do you represent?  I look for agents/agencies that list this right on their site.  If they don’t post this information, I get suspicious.  I understand that a new agency won’t have a long list of sales but I want to see what types of clients they represent.

How many clients do you represent?  Again, if there is a list on the site, I should be able to come up with a rough estimate. Given the fact that I can’t decide if a low number or a high numer is best, I’m not sure how much help the exact number would be.

If these are questions you should answer before contact the agent, what should you ask?  Here are a few suggestions.

What publishers are you considering for my project?  Yes, I can look at their clients and see who publishes their work, and I do.  But who among all of these publishers are you considering for my manuscript.  A specific answer tells me that they are truly enthusiastic and ready to run with it.

How frequently do you update authors on the status of their work?  Some agents get in touch with their clients every time there is a rejection or a “send us more.”  Other agents update the author once a month.  There isn’t really a right answer but it does help if you know what to expect.

How do you prefer that your authors communicate with you?  If this agent is e-mail phobic, you may not want to sign with her if you have a day job.  You also need to know if they only/never want phone calls.  You aren’t trying to find a new BFF, but you want to know how best to make contact.

What questions are on your list?