Chip MacGregor

September 21, 2012

What should I ask an agent?


I’ve had several people write to say, “I don’t know what to ask an agent when I meet one. What should I say?”

I’ve answered this question a few times on this blog, so let me replay some thoughts…

How long have you been doing this?

-How many contracts have you negotiated for authors? 

-Who do you represent?

-May I check your references? Are you okay with me asking your authors about you?

-What publishing houses have you worked with in the past year?

-Which editorial personnel have you done deals with?

-How many deal have you done in the past year? 

-What sort of authors and projects do you represent?

-What do you like to read?

-Can you give me a book title you sold that you loved?

-Can you give me a book idea you sold that you loved?

How would you define success for an author?

-What would you say are your best skills?

-What’s unique about your agency?

-What percentage do you earn on a book deal?

-Are there any hidden fees or charges? Any up-front costs?

-Do you charge back all your expenses?

-Have you ever worked in publishing or done any editing or writing?

-How do you approach career planning?

-Do you work by yourself?

-Are you full time?

-Can you help me do my e-books? 

-Can you share any success stories with me? 

-What do you do best? 

-What do you expect from your authors?

That should at least get you started… 

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  • Peter DeHaan says:

    These are great questions, but I wonder what agents really think when we ask them. It seems responding to them would get tedious after a while. What if I ask too many and they decide I’m not worth their time?

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Well, I doubt you’re going to ask all of these back to back in one sitting, Peter. This was more to get you thinking. A conversation with an agent is exactly that — a “conversation.” There’s give and take, we tell stories, we bring up other things. We don’t just sit and do an inquisition.

  • thanks buddy…maybe I’ll need one before much longer.

  • What a great list of questions. I got an offer of representation on the first day of a writing conference I attended last October. It was the fairy tale dream. My prospective agent told me to think about it. Immediately after this, I was already slated to have pre-dinner drinks with a number of other authors, many of whom were published and agented already. They gave me a similar list of questions to ask her, which I typed into my iPhone. I asked said agent the questions later that evening. Her answers were so in tune with where I wanted to go that I signed. Within this amazing year, my manuscript has sold. The questions work!

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