What to Do When You Get THE CALL
Blogger: Mary Keeley
No, it isn’t Friday yet. Beginning this week, Rachel Kent and I are switching blog days because we think it’s going to work better for our schedules. That means from now on Rachel will be blogging on Fridays, and I’m moving to Wednesdays.
You just got THE CALL. An agent is interested in taking your proposal to the next level, a phone interview to discuss the possibility of representation. After your feet return to terra firma, what do you do next? Lasso your elation so you can think clearly. You have plenty to do before your phone interview, namely
Plenty of preparation will minimize your nervousness. Review the proposal you sent to the agent, update your social media numbers, and have them handy to refer to during the call. Anticipate questions the agent might ask you regarding your qualifications for writing the novel or nonfiction book, and have clear, comprehensive answers ready.
Remember, the author-agent relationship is a business partnership. Approach the conversation as a professional. If you will be conversing via a Skype video session, business casual is the dress code.
Be ready to describe your target audience and how you connect with them through your social media and other means.
I look for evidence of these personal characteristics in the prospective client to whom I’m speaking:
- Good people skills. Thank the agent for the call. Be pleasant and respectful. It shows you have the skills you will need to promote your book and interact with publishing professionals. You don’t have to be a super extrovert. I understand that many authors are introverted. Trying to project yourself as someone you are not doesn’t work for long. Be your best professional self.
- Sense of compatibility. Friendly, nice, upbeat, and forthright are qualities that give me the impression you would be pleasant to work with.
- Confident yet humble. Showing confidence is very important because it shows me you can interact successfully with publishing professionals and in interviews when your book is published. Balanced with a humble attitude, your confidence won’t sound aggressive or pushy.
- Teachable. You emphasize you are patient, teachable, and you appear to be a forthright communicator.
Obviously, I think you have potential and like what you’ve written or I wouldn’t be requesting the phone call. Here is what I’m looking for in this next level interview:
- You are informed about Books & Such and me. You don’t ask questions that are clearly addressed on the website.
- You have done your homework. You’ve learned a little about the publishing industry by attending writers conferences and following industry and author blogs. You belong to a critique group and have been willing to do the advance work to refine and polish your manuscript until it is the best it can be before submitting it.
- You are a go-getter about doing all you can to market your book. You understand that while it’s my job to guide and suggest marketing efforts, it’s your job to plan and implement them and follow through with enthusiasm. (If you currently have a polished manuscript to submit but don’t have a clear understanding of ways in which you, the author, will be expected to market and promote your book, wait to submit your proposal until you have educated yourself and are able to present a plan that shows you are savvy about what is involved and have grown a sizable audience for your work.)
- You are relaxed and comfortable when communicating about your proposal. Your proposal has shown me that you’ve read books and learned how to present yourself and your book on paper. You knew what to include and what to leave out. In our phone conversation, I want to see that you can verbally interact with professionalism and ease in a business setting.
- You have a sense of your personal brand, and your book and future book ideas fit the brand. This demonstrates to me that you are invested in the writing life for the long haul.
- You have investigated publishing house websites. You’re savvy about which publishing houses publish your type of books.
- You have a good sense of the author-agent relationship. You know the questions to ask about what the agency offers to clients, and you acknowledge your responsibility in the relationship.
Have you been preparing for THE CALL? It isn’t too early to begin. What makes you most nervous when you think about a phone interview with an agent? If you’ve had an author-agent phone interview, were you pleased with how it went? What would you do differently next time?
How to prepare for an author-agent phone interview. Click to Tweet.
What an agent looks for in an interview with a prospective client. Click to Tweet.
After submitting your proposal, it’s time to prepare for an agent call. Click to Tweet.