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Don’t Sign With a Literary Agent - Part 3

These are the last questions that you should be asking a prospective agent before you sign up.

If You Move To A Different Agency, Do I Go With You?

This is an important question to ask if you are dealing with a large agency. Agents move all the time but, when they started work for their current agency, they may have a contract that states, if they move, their clients stay put. Knowing what will happen in the event of your agent leaving could be a deciding factor in whether you sign up for them or not.

Will You Be Representing All My Books?

Signing up with an agent doesn’t automatically guarantee that they will represent you for everything that you write. You were signed up on the basis of what you wrote but, unless your writing continues in the same vein, they may not want to represent you in the future. An agent should be upfront about what they think of your work – it is their reputation, after all. It isn’t easy to gain the trust of an editor and an agent won’t submit everything and anything for fear of damaging that trust.

You need to ask how books will be handled in the future; while an agent may not form a connection with your work, they might offer you suggestions on how it could be made better. Others will just pass on the book and ask you to send the next one along when you have finished it.  Make sure you know what to expect.

How Much Am I Likely To be Paid?

This isn’t a question that many writers will ask and that is no bad thing. Some non-fiction writers will need to know this, however, because they don’t need to provide the entire manuscript up front and will want to know if their work is worth the effort.  Aside from that, agents can’t really answer this question, not for a first book. Aside from that, there is no way to know if your book will be accepted by a publisher and you may not get what you expect.

Asking questions of a prospective agent is not an easy thing and you may feel as though you are being intrusive. You are not. Ask any question you feel is appropriate; after all, this is your career on the line and no agent worth their salt will mind answering questions. In fact, many may even proffer information before you ask for it.  You may even gain some respect from the agent for asking.

However, keep in mind that agents don’t like being pushed hard and fast; they feel as though they are being asked to prove themselves and, really, they don’t have to. Ask your questions politely but don’t make it look as though you are interrogating them. Be friendly, be polite, be amenable and don’t forget to answer the questions they may ask of you. In theory, you should already have done your homework and you should already have a good understanding of who you are dealing with.

Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Anne-Marie Reynolds