When An Agent Calls

There will be a moment after hunting down, and submitting to agent after agent when they call you back. That’s right. They call you. You know why? Because you’ve piqued their interest and they want to sign you discuss signing you.

Rejections come in email form. Not so for the acceptance.

That alone is very exciting but there’s more. When the call comes you need to think about things. Things like staying calm and not sounding like a lunatic. That dandelion-335222_1280lunatic part is more for me than anyone. I make absolutely no sense when upset or excited. I always need a moment to gather my thoughts and enhance my calm.

So when they call, take a deep breath and know this. They just want to chat. It’s a more of a getting to know you moment than a marriage proposal. This is exciting for them too or at least I hope so. They may have found their next big money making client.

And that my friend would be you.

So after sharing how excited you are about them calling, and thanking them for their interest in your work, you are going to ask for some time to think things over. Explain you’d like to use the time to prepare some intelligent questions on what might happen next.

I know this will be hard. You can’t say yes no matter how much you want to.
Picture this. You see a possible spouse candidate on the bus. You smile. They approach you and one of you proposes… Gak.

What comes from this?

If one of you asks the other to go for coffee sometime or a drink, there is a slower stride that may lead somewhere. It’s comfortable. Bit by bit each of you will discover if you’re made for this partnership.

When you call your candidate or they call back, you’ll be more prepared for what happens next. Whether it works or not, you’ve lost nothing but a little time.

Anyone out there have an agent? Care to share (very generally) how it came to wolf-159979_1280pass after you got your call? Anything you’d’ve done differently? I’m sure we’re dying to know.

For the record. My call didn’t come. 😦



Gleaned from:


34 responses to “When An Agent Calls

  1. I’m unagented but that is because I haven’t submitted/queried to any yet. But I can imagine my reaction if I ever do get that call…screaming, jumping up and down, and running down the aisle giving high fives. Followed by extreme panic.

  2. It’s easier to say, “I need to think about this” after having two agent deals fall apart. I am less in awe of that call!

  3. It will Anna! Great post 😊

  4. I’m not agented because I’m not sure any major publisher would be interested in me. Also, to be completely honest, I still haven’t locked down my voice. The entire process frightens me a bit, to be honest. I don’t want to take an advance that I’m not able to pay back, and at least while I’m indie, I’m responsible for my own success or failure. If I’m ever approached, I plan to use this advice. Thank you.

    • The advance is easy–don’t spend any of it. As to the rest, follow your heart.

      In my case, I’m not much of a business woman and could use the help on that side of things. Hence a search for the right partner. 🙂

  5. A wonderful post! I’ve never had that call either. Yet if I do, I will take your advice even though I know I would want to say YES, YES, YES!! Hehehe.

  6. I’m sorry you haven’t gotten the “proposal” yet. Hang in there. I haven’t tried publishing much, so only a handful of rejections for me. I like how you tell us to take it slow. Not every proposal will be a great marriage.

  7. I just got an agent last December. I will say that all of the agents who offered sent me an email beforehand saying they wanted to call to discuss representation, so I had time to put together my questions BEFORE they called. (I had one agent cold call earlier, to talk about a possible R&R and that nearly gave me a heart attack to see the agency name on my phone unexpectedly). From conversations with friends, the email heads up is more common than the cold call, thank goodness!

    Also, for your friend Avery, if a publisher gives you an advance, you don’t have to pay back what you don’t earn (although of course you want to earn out!). There are some (very rare) cases where publishers have asked for a return on advance (for instance, when a planned series was cancelled before publication), but I don’t think that happens often. You just don’t get royalties until your book “earns out”, and if your book severely underperforms, it might be hard to sell to a publisher in the future. But don’t let the fear of an advance scare you away! (There are other reasons not to look for a big publisher, but I don’t think that should be one).

  8. I briefly tried the agent route but in the end I went indie. So although I’ve never had a call like that, I think I’d totally do the same as you and freak out.

    Keeping calm and taking this step by step is great advice for anything though. Rushing blindly into anything isn’t the best idea (although I’m definitely the kind of person to do that!)

    Here’s hoping you can report back on getting that call from firsthand experience soon! 🙂

  9. When I get really excited or upset I tend to talk really fast, so I have learned to use few words and bite the inside of my mouth first. Then after I calm down I can hold a conversation.

  10. Such great advice. If you’ve got your work in the hands of more than one person, this is easy, but for every other instance…

  11. I’ve never received a call from an agent. I’m still waiting for that day. I know my heart will be pounding so hard that I’d feel like I’ll pass out. Hopefully I don’t. lol

  12. jenniferbielman

    I would try not to but I would freak out!!! Hasn’t happened to me yet.

  13. I can only imagine how hard it would be not to blurt out a yes, but waiting in order to get to know each other first makes sense. And I’m sure that your call will come soon, as you’re very talented!

  14. Pingback: How to Prepare to Meet Your Agent | Elements of Writing

  15. I haven’t had a desire to “hire” an agent. But I think the writer who does should realize the person is working for her and she should interview them as much as vice versa. I know an agent can do great things for a writer or not. After reading your info on agents, maybe I should consider one. Why are you looking for an agent, Anna?

    • I’m not much of a business woman and wouldn’t mind someone with some skills helping me out.

      So yes I’m keeping my eyes open for the perfect partner, but I’m not in a hurry. 🙂

  16. In the end, I will probably go for an agent. At the moment it’s one more job that needs doing!

  17. Great advice, Anna. I’ve had the same agent for five years, so it’s hard for me to remember The Call. A mini-call or email exchange should always precede the conversation that ends in representation. If a mini-call doesn’t happened, consider it a warning. A reputable agent will always give a potential client time to check references and background thoroughly first. A potential agent will not only expect to be interviewed and their track record investigated, they will welcome the scrutiny.

    Two other sources for a background check: the member list of AAR (Association of Authors’ Representatives). Agent-member’s follow an established code of ethics. Also Preditors & Editors (pred-ed.com), which warns about possible unscrupulous agents, editors, publishers, etc.

    VR Barkowski

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