Bobbi wrote to say, "You've mentioned several times that an author should ask a prospective agent some questions in order to get to know him (or her). I'm going to a conference in a couple months -- what sort of questions should I ask?"
I've talked about his question a couple of times, Bobbi. Here are some thoughts to get you started...
-How long have you been doing this?
-How many contracts have you negotiated for authors?
-Who do you represent?
-What publishing houses have you worked with in the past year?
-Which editorial personnel have you done deals with?
-How many deals have you done in the past year?
-What sort of authors and projects do you represent?
-What do you like to read? (Ask for titles!)
-Can you give me a book title you sold that you loved?
-Can you give me a book idea you sold that you loved?
-Do you offer editorial input to authors?
-What would you say are your best skills?
-What's unique about your agency?
-What percentage do you earn on a book deal?
-Are there any hidden fees or charges? Any up-front costs?
-Do you charge back all your expenses?
-How do you handle legal or accounting issues?
-Have you ever worked in publishing or done any editing or writing?
-How do you approach career planning?
-Do you work by yourself?
-Are you full time?
-Are you a member of AAR?
-How long have you been in business?
-How many people work at your agency?
-Will you be handling my work, or will someone else?
That will get you started. Again, I think an author needs to consider what he or she needs from an agent before interviewing prospective agents. That way you've got some idea of whether or not this person would meet your needs, rather than simply asking yourself, "Do I like this guy?"