Note: I have generally categorized these questions so you can jump around the find the ones most relevant to you. Feel free to pick & choose from among these questions. I have bolded those that I consider "standard," but by no means feel obligated to ask any/all of these. There is a wide variety of questions included to cover a variety of scenarios. In many cases, the agent will cover a lot of this information without your having to ask them.
In your mind, what is an ideal client? What are your questions or expectations for me if I decide to take you on as my agent?
What if another client and I approached you with a similar idea, or if I wanted to write something similar to another client's book? How would you move forward in that situation?
What would happen if you were to leave the agency? Would I stay with the agency or go with you?
If the agent/agency isn't in New York: How often do you travel to New York to meet with editors?
What major book events/fairs/conferences do you attend, if any? (ie: BEA, Frankfurt, Bologna)
How much of my genre do you handle? What is your approximate success rate?
What questions do you have for me?*
*VERY IMPORTANT! Ask the agent this! In case you've missed something, they should ask you.
THIS BOOK/FUTURE BOOKS
Where do you see this book fitting in the market?
Where do you see this book landing? Big Five? Major publisher? Small?
What edits do you have in mind for the book before we would go on submission?
How close do you feel the book is, in terms of being ready to go out?
How would you approach future projects?/How involved are you in working with your clients on developing new ideas?
Are you an editorial agent?
How do you approach editorial/revision with your clients? Do you do developmental edits? Line editing? Copy editing?
If I were to write a book in a genre you don't represent, how would we approach that?
How closely involved do you expect to be after the book sells? Do you need to be copied on all emails with my editor/publicity, etc? Or, what specific things do you need to be copied on/involved in?
How would you manage a situation such as my not liking the cover, or the publisher wanting to change the title?
If I have an issue with my publisher, at what point do you step in?
How involved are you editorially with additional contracted books? At what point would you expect to see a draft? Before the editor? After?
Typically how long do you have your clients revise before they go out on submission?
Who makes the decision that the manuscript is ready to go on submission? You or the client?
Do you have a plan for submission in mind already? Which houses/editors do think will be a good fit for this project?
When we're on submission, will you share editor feedback with me, and if so how often?
Will I get to look at the submission list/list of editors that we go out to?
How do you like to approach submission? Do you submit in rounds? How large are your rounds?
How long do you typically wait before nudging editors? Do you ever set reading deadlines for editors?
At what point in the submission process do you consider shelving a project? Is there a hard number of editors?
How often will you communicate with me during submission?
Do you typically fight to retain foreign/sub-rights, or do you prefer to sell them to the publisher?
Are there any situations where you'd make decisions on my behalf? (ask about pre-empts, auctions, etc.)
Will I be working just with you, or are there times where I will be working with an associate, assistant, or intern?
What are your commission rates? Are they the standard 15% domestic and 20%/25% foreign/film?
What's your agenting communication style? Do you prefer email, phone? How quickly do you respond to emails? What is a typical email response time?
What happens if you can't sell this manuscript? What if you don't like my future projects and ideas?
Have you ever dropped a client and if so, for what reasons?
If for some reason we were to part ways, how would we handle that? Are there any stipulations I should be aware of, in this situation? For what reasons would you terminate a relationship with a client?
How do you handle foreign/sub-rights?
Would you say your agency is strong in sub-right sales? Do you see potential for my project in this regard?
Do you have ideas about marketing/branding/do you like to work with clients on those aspects?
How would you feel about my using a pen name?
Will you work with me on career planning/branding?
YOU ARE READING
#HowToAuthor: Agents & SubmissionNon-Fiction
Advice for writing book-shaped things and getting them traditionally published. This series will cover everything from querying to agent fit, to building a platform and marketing yourself.