I know you’ve done blogs on pitching and querying, but I haven’t seen anything about your first meeting with a new client. Do you ever meet with authors whose projects interest you but who you, in the end, decline to represent? Or do you only meet with authors you have already signed?
Well, to be honest, we don’t talk a lot about our first meeting with a new client because we have clients we’ve never met. I’m afraid, though, that there’s no rule as to who we’ll meet with and who we won’t. If I’m attending a conference I’m certainly open to meeting with authors I’ve rejected or those I still have under consideration. I’ll be honest, though: I’m less likely to do that during normal business hours. If I were to meet with every potential client, or all of those I receive submissions from, I would certainly have no time for anything else. Traditionally I will only take time out of my day to meet with clients who have already signed or those I have offered representation to and who want to meet face-to-face before making anything official.
Either way, what are some tips you could give to new authors meeting their agent/potential agent for the first time? What kinds of things should the author be sure to cover in that first meeting (i.e., would you consider it an opportunity for a longer pitch on their current novel, a discussion of works in progress, or more of a social venture to ensure that you’re “clicking”)?
Tips on meeting agents really depend on what stage you’re at. I’m going to avoid giving advice right now on meeting agents for a pitch since I think I’ve covered that fairly well in other posts. Instead I’m going to talk about meeting your agent for the first time and also give tips on interviewing agents in person if they have already offered representation.
If you have an agent already and are gearing up to meet her for the first time, I have two bits of advice. The first is to enjoy yourself. Get to know this person and have a good time. I love having the opportunity to sit with my clients over a drink or a meal and just talk about life and, of course, career. I think it’s good for both of us to have the time to get to know each other better. The second bit of advice is don’t be afraid to take notes. Face-to-face conversation can be so much better than phone or email, so take the time to really ask career questions and tell your agent your hopes, dreams, goals, and concerns. This is a terrific time to share your business plan with your agent and ensure that the two of you are on the same page.
As for those of you who might be meeting with a number of agents before choosing the one you want to make your own, I can only say trust your gut. I would suspect that if you’ve already gotten to this stage you’ve done your research and asked each agent the important questions—what is their commission percentage, do they work with a contract, etc.—so meeting in person is really your way of evaluating who you think you mesh best with and would like working with. To make that possible I think you have to ask additional career questions, but also just get a feel for how the two of you communicate and whether or not you click. In this particular instance you are no longer pitching; instead the agent is, and you should definitely enjoy the driver’s seat.