Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Getting meta up in the hizzy

So Week One of the "Gearing Up To Get An Agent" blogfest is I just had to ask, wherein participants ask the publication-related questions and readers answer them.

Here's my problem: I'm no good at asking questions.

Seriously, I am that interviewer whose only trick when asked, "So, do you have any questions for us?" is to make my smile THAT MUCH BIGGER and hope no one notices I didn't say anything.  And a sweet, sweet three job offers later (out of 48 interviews), clearly my strategy is working.*

I really just don't have any questions when asked, "Is there anything I can answer for you?"

So instead I'm going to turn it around on you, friends, countrymen, and fellow bloggy peeps: What would you ask?

If you had five minutes with a literary agent or editor at a publishing company, what would you want to know? 

* AHEM.  For reals.  So here's my law school/lawyer tangent of the day - in law school, second year students (called 2Ls) participate in what is called "on campus interviewing," or OCIs.  (We abbreviate a lot.  It saves space, and that's necessary when you use words like "herein" and "wherewithal" conversationally.) 

My dad's lawyer buddy advised me to APPLY FOR EVERYTHING and so I did, and because I had relatively good grades and a nice resume, I got an unbelievable amount of interviews.  I was literally embarrassed about it and spent more time the fall of my 2L year in interviews than I did in class.

But because I am a terrible, terrible interviewer (no, seriously, accidental flashing terrible) this led to exactly two job offers.  That, combined with the offer I got to work at my current job, brings my post-law school success rate up to ... let's not even do that math.  


  1. Unless an agent can swear like Ari Gold for me, I'm not interested. So, ask to hear the favorite curse word, but do it in the style of James Lipton.

  2. I'd want to know their favorite book they've acquired (client's ms) and why.

  3. How about: I like you. Where do I sign?

    Haha. Jk. I honestly wish I had the answers to this one. I usually just try to charm my way through interviews, agent interviews included.

    Sorry. I'm no help.

  4. I'd like each of them to tell me a project they passed on for which they're still kicking themselves. Only because for some strange, sick reason, I'd feel vindication over my rejections.

    No, seriously- What sways them one way or the other when their on the fence about a project, and what warrants an insta-no.

  5. Oh GOD- I used the wrong THEY'RE and I'm mortified. Had to get that out there.

  6. Colt - solid choice

    Alleged author - good question, I'd want to know that, too. I really want to ask Jodi Reamer that (I don't *love* Twilight, but I enjoyed the books, and even I don't see who could read those first 30 pages before she even meets the vampires and think, "Yes, this is the project for me.") - how did she know Stephenie Meyer was a good bet, or was it just luck in the end?

    Julie - for the win!

    Gina - ha, I like both your questions. :) (And no worries about they're/their ... for some reason I think internet writing makes us dumber than we really are.)

  7. I want to know if they will take a look at my full right then and tell me what I can do to improve it. Yep, right there. That would be perfect!

  8. Will you represent me?

    Seriously, I'd ask them what they're looking for. And I'd ask them their philosophy about representation. Market trends.

    Then I'd ask them if they wanted to hear my pitch. Then I'd offer a query and pages.

  9. I love Alleged Author's question, I'm so using that, thanks. And I have no idea, I'm just hoping I can still speak after the stage fright and that my kids aren't fighting in the background :)

  10. I want a list of the best books they've read in the past year.

  11. LOL! Great post! I can't even begin to think what kind of questions I would ask if I were face to face with an agent. Man, imagine the horror. That poor person would wish they'd never met me, I'd make their ears bleed.

  12. Since this is hypothetical and all, I'd probably ask "Am I in, or am I out?" I'd say it just like Heidi Klum on Project Runway-- cool German accent, super high heels, red lipstick. You get the idea. And since this is hypothetical, the agent, of course, would sign me immediately.

    The End. :P

  13. That's a good question! See, you can do it :)

    I would ask 1) what they like most about my book 2) what publishers they have in mind for it 3) what edits they suggest 4) will we have a written contract 5) how often will I receive updates once we go on sub 6) how involved are they in guiding the marketing efforts of their authors.

    Of course, I have this all written down, because I will be hyperventilating and unable to think when this day comes :)

  14. Only five minutes?
    Yikes. I'd go with, "CAN I SEND YOU MY STUFF?"
    Then I would spend the rest of the time charming them into thinking I'm great.
    Hmm, I might need a better plan...

  15. What genres do you prefer to read when you read for fun?

  16. I'd want to know what they think of my writing. And I don't want a general answer, I want a specific play-by-play of my current whatever. Because I always believe I can do whatever it is I need to do, if I could just figure out what that is.

    Like your blog. I'm now following. I'm at

  17. Haha, you guys are all awesome. Lindy, you have a special place in my heart now for the Project Runway reference.

  18. Wanna know how many on-campus interviews I did? None. I admit it. You were a better law student than I was. (Of course, I had the perfect excuse: I started with a 4-month-old and graduated with two kids.)

    If I had an agent all to myself for five minutes, I'd probably chicken out about asking them about my WIP and would just invite them to be a guest on Authors' Advisory. :)

  19. I always feel like an idiot when they ask me if I have any questions and I say no, and then I start talking to somebody about the interview and they ask "So when would you start?" "I don't know." "How much would you get paid?" "No clue." "What would you be doing?" "Hard to say."
    But, advice-giving version of me always brings up the Curb Your Enthusiasm episode where Leon tells Larry to "Switch it on them," or something like that. Put the interviewer on the hot seat and they naturally start to submit to you. I believe that probably works. But I can't seem to build up the courage to actually do it myself.