getting back to The Call

There are a number of interesting topics generated in the comments to my post asking about how authors think The Call should go. That would be The Call for representation; not The Call for a sale, which is another thing entirely. I was really interested to hear all the opinions as I certainly have a great deal more insight to the agent side of that call but far less into what goes on across the phone line. And as I mentioned in my Friday post about finishing the darn book, I will likely respond in several blog entries.

The first thing that struck me, of couse, was the number of people who suggested they would faint, scream, dance, babble, or some combination thereof. To those of you who were concerned this might not be a professional enough response, I say, don’t worry about it. There’s plenty of time for being professional throughout your long and successful writing career. In my opinion, this doesn’t need to be one of those times. Besides, most people, even agents, like an enthusiastic response. Who wants to be on the sidelines and not see the team rejoice when it makes a goal? How compelling would that be? So, go ahead and be excited. We can both settle down and talk about serious topics afterwards.

Oh, wait. You thought the agent wasn’t going to be all atwitter? Not so. Sure, the agent should be prepared for the call. I usually have notes and marketing plans and so forth all waiting within reach. But first I want to celebrate. And I want them to want me. How do you think it feels as an agent? You’ve spent weeks, or maybe even months, looking and looking, reading and reading… until your eyes bleed… just trying to find projects that sing to you. I mean, here it is September, and I think I’ve only signed two new clients this year. In each case, I was absolutely thrilled. And it’s even worse if you’re in competition with another agent to secure that position. Should I not be admitting that out loud? Well, it’s true. If you want the project, you *WANT* it. None of this, “oh, sure…. I guess I’ll represent you… it’s not like I have anything better to do….”

Those first few minutes don’t deny yourself the response you and the agent both deserve. You’ve secured representation — an extremely helpful tool in getting published (and/or staying published) and a partner who will be enthusiastic and supportive. And the agent? The agent just got another great book to gush about. That’s what we’re all about! In my opinion, that’s the first thing an author should hear – how excited the agent is about the book. So, of course, the agent should hear how excited the author is to be going forward.

So, dance a little. Toast your success at finding each other. Then you can talk about all the rest.

17 responses to “getting back to The Call

  1. Being as detail-oriented as I am (comes with the job, taking computer support calls all day) the first thing I’d ask, after a brief gasp for air, was to ask what you meant specifically.
    Jumping up and down, whooping, comes after I’m off the phone. Though I might give a laugh or two in surprise.

  2. Nicely ‘splained.

  3. And it’s even worse if you’re in competition with another agent to secure that position.
    Your, “Did I *win*!?” while we were talking on the phone that first time was truly one of the highlights of my life, and I’d already been having an exceptionally good week that week. *big big happy grin*

    • That’s actually the one I was thinking of when I wrote that sentence today. *g*

      • Well, you were the agent I really, *really* wanted. The others were fallbacks. I figured if you weren’t interested, it behooved me to have a couple of other options open, since whether I had *you* or not, I *did* have a deal on the table, and I wasn’t about to try negotiating that myself. πŸ™‚
        Just in case it wasn’t clear, btw, I am very very *very* glad you won. πŸ™‚ I am living a dream come true, and you have helped me make that happen. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  4. Oh, good. If an agent ever calls to tell me they loff my stories forever, I will feels secure in my gibbering. *grin*

  5. nice to read
    Thanks for that post. It was nice to read. It’s kind of easy to forget the agent’s side of it. When I used to be an actor, one way I kept from getting nervous at auditions was to remember that the director/casting director really, really wanted me to be the one. If I was perfect for the role, then their job was done. I think it’s good to remember that when an agent is reading queries, they really, really want to find a match, so if they call, they feel like they have, and that’s exciting for them too.

  6. I think I would be so stunned I might not say anything for a second or two. I might ask who this was again, thinking someone was playing tricks on me or got a wrong number or something. Who knows? Especially if it were someone on my short list. But then I don’t think well on my feet.
    If I actually got the nerve to send anything out it might be different, I don’t know.

  7. This was a great–and very fun–perspective to read. It’s good to know that the inevitable gushing would be appreciated.

  8. sounds great — I’d love to be doing some celebrating! With three agents looking at three different mss right now…what are the chances that all three say no? (Probably too good…sigh). Don’t worry, I’ll wait until at least one of them gets back to me before requerying you (I was one of the people….)

    • Congratulations on having three agents considering your materials – that’s exciting! I hope one of them works out for you, but please do feel free to send me a query by some other route.
      You know… I still can’t send any emails to anything at They bounce. If you’re interested the error I get says: “You have been blocked from emailing the Comcast network because you are sending email from dynamic/residential IP space. Comcast does not allow residential / dynamic IP addresses to directly connect to our mail servers.” Unfortunately, this apparently applies to my service provider, and there’s nothing I can do about it. Comcast’s reason is that they think it reduces spam, which it may very well do. But it also blocks any legitimate replies from non-corporate customers. This is almost as annoying as the person who didn’t put me on their whitelist before they sent an e-query. Ergo, I couldn’t reply to them either.

  9. This was a great post to read. It was a reassurance, if I ever do get that call, that it’s ok if I scream. I’ll be keeping my eye on this blog to learn more about The Call.

  10. Hunh, my first thought is that of how I’ve responded in my life when offered positions I really, really wanted: dead silence, a long period of thought, and then acceptance. I’m just too private to react with anything other than a steady voice — but the way you phrase it here, it almost sounds like you expect a person to go batty for a few minutes in delight and surprise.
    Almost makes me feel uneasy about how an agent might react when dealing with someone too…hrm… reticent when it comes to high emotion? Would you think you’d made a mistake? Or that the author’s holding back in some way, or that the author isn’t really that excited and you’re all hyped up for nothing?
    (If that sounds odd, I apologize: it’s been one of those days.)

    • I was wondering the same thing, actually. I’d be quite delighted, yes, but I’m a very calm person under almost all circumstances. It would probably take a while before it really set in and I got excited. On the phone at first I imagine I’d be silent for a while, not screaming my head off in delight. Mine is a very quietly displayed happiness.

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