The querying journey that I have gone on with my novel is unusual compared to most querying writers. I submitted this manuscript to Pitch Wars last summer, and I ended up being chosen as part of the 2018 class of mentees. Pitch Wars is a revision marathon that culminates in an agent showcase, where agents sign up to browse the participants’ entries and comment on the ones they would like to receive more materials from.
Shortly after the showcase ended and the materials were submitted, I received an email from an agent who wanted to set up a call with me. It was two in the morning on a Saturday – my now-agent, Zabé Ellor, sent a quick email to me to say that he’d stayed up late reading my book, it devastated him, and he wanted to know my availability in the coming days for a call. Needless to say, I was beyond thrilled! And then I was terrified.
Luckily, there are a ton of great resources out there for writers who are prepping for The Call. My go-to website for any writing resource is Jane Friedman’s, and there are many great articles there about the questions you should ask during the call. I would also recommend getting a subscription to Publishers Marketplace, so you can track agent sales. It can take some time to sift through everything and decide which questions are important for you to know the answers to, so be sure to allow yourself that time. You don’t need to ask every single question that’s out there. Think about what you want most out of an agent and/or agency – are sales numbers most important to you? Their years of experience? Would you prefer to have an editorial agent? I gathered the questions that I felt were most important into one document prior to having the call.
Zabé opened our conversation by talking about what he loved about the MS, and from the very beginning, I knew that he got my novel and my main character. He understood my vision, and what I had been trying to accomplish with this story, which was incredibly reassuring. He then gave me a brief overview of the changes that he would like to see should I choose to sign with him. I had already decided what my one line in the sand would be, the one change that would be make-or-break if he asked me to do it. Thankfully, this was not one of the changes that Zabé mentioned! But it’s important to know ahead of time which revisions you would be willing to make to your novel, and which revisions (should they ask for them) would be make-or-break for you.
Once Zabé finished with his overview and I agreed that the revisions were doable for me, I jumped right into my questions. He was incredibly knowledgeable and was able to answer all of my questions about himself, his agency, and what it would look like to sign on with them. Zabé also provided me with an example of the agency agreement, so that I could look it over while I made my decision. He was available to answer questions after the call, too – I had a couple of points that I wanted clarified that came up after the call, and so I quickly emailed them off to him. His responsiveness was another one of the many reasons I had a good feeling about him! He also provided contact information for some of his other clients, so that I could reach out to them and hear about their experiences.
After the call, I had two weeks to make a decision. I nudged the other agents who had my materials right away, to see if any of them also wanted to offer. Once those two weeks were up, I decided to go with Zabé! We are now in the edit letter stage, and I couldn’t be happier. Working with an agent who understands your characters, their motivations, and the story as well as you do is an incredibly fulfilling and rewarding experience, and I look forward to seeing where the rest of this journey takes me!
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About the Series:
Now What? is a series dedicated to navigating post-query life and the agent-author relationship. Authors from every stage of their writing career have come together to tell their stories. They understand the struggles of querying and moving forward with an agent and are here to help.
New posts go live every Friday!
Previous Posts in this Series:
Parting Ways with an Agent
Writing the Post-Query Book
How To Come Up with a Marketing Plan for Your Book