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  • I need help on what to ask

    Posted by sibongile.makuza on 4 April 2020 at 08:12

    If you could ask a literary agent one thing, what would you ask him/her? 

    I’ve registered for the “I’m an agent— Ask me anything!” live webinar, and I’ve written down a number of questions, but I’m struggling to put them in order of importance, in case I can only ask the one question.

    So, if you could ask a literary agent one thing, what would you ask him/her?

    sibongile.makuza replied 3 years, 11 months ago 4 Members · 6 Replies
  • 6 Replies
  • Rick Yagodich

    4 April 2020 at 08:56

    As the only question I would ask is the one about alignment of my style with their tastes, I can only give more general advice. It’s your question, so ask about what matters to you.

    As you say, picking an order is difficult. Write out all your possible questions on individual pieces of paper. (Maybe spend some time coming up with more questions, however absurd, until you really can’t think of anything else.) Then, pick two at a time and consider which of them is more important. (Don’t keep the winner of the last comparison to weigh against the next option, that will bias your selection.) Write down which would win. Keep this up, shuffling the questions. You want to have compared each option agasint at least three others; five or six if you have to time.

    Analyse your weighting preferences. There should be some obvious trends, at A always wins and B always loses. Maybe you’ll find clear indications of an order, maybe not. But removing some from the list should be easy at that point.

    Rinse and repeat.

    In the end, you should be making a choice between two or three questions. If, at that point, A beats B, B beats C, and C beats A… then just pick at random.

    • sibongile.makuza

      4 April 2020 at 14:08

      Hi, thank you so much Rick, I’ll definitely try this, thank you 

  • Unknown Member

    Deleted User
    4 April 2020 at 11:23

    I’d ask the question that retaliates, why do editor change things, and what do you have to do with it. Are you in my corner or theirs? With all those split infinitives, what really qualifies as good writing, is it all good grammar or not? The first step for editors, is etiquette. The first step for an agent, is power. What and with what can I swing, do I understand the premise. They need to be data mongers, my dog is bigger than your dog. Mostly, they are the buffer between the man and the mountain, so it’s David and Goliath, not the fall of Jericho. I have been down that avenue, and it’s better to get a ghost writer than an agent, if you want to get anywhere, and writing has more to do with politics than one might think, and it all leads to the Zionists and the plight of man. To go up that road with any merit, one needs to rally, have the lobbyists on their side, know the hit man, be able to dance with the devil. If in some futuristic state, mankind has turned into a hive mind, then one might have to fend off the pariahs, in order to make it as a paragon. A good look at a person however has its merits, what is a virtue, otherwise what makes a good agent, how do I discern it.

  • dannyambrose

    4 April 2020 at 11:51

    Hi Sibongile

    As much as I do enjoy reading Vincent’s (above) responses i feel he lives on a higher plane than the rest of us.

    I suppose the answer to your question depends on where you are on the writing journey. If you have a manuscript ready to go then perhaps asking him/her what their expectations are for your genre, or possibly what makes them open an email (Is it the genre/title that intrigues them or the elevator pitch).

    Bear in mind that agents are inundated with submissions from would-be writers and only open very few of the emails they receive.

    In the past I obtained agent representation by meeting them at a literary event, had a discussion over coffee, I sent them my submission which was personalized based on our meeting and that’s how I got an agent. It didn’t end well for me and she didn’t get me a deal but at least I crossed that first hurdle.

    In summary – make the question relevant to your own situation – generic questions such as how many submissions do you get, what genre do you represent etc are not going to help – so pick something personal to you.

    • sibongile.makuza

      4 April 2020 at 14:10

      Your first paragraph is as if you read my mind.

      Thank you so much, your response helped