Thursday, September 17, 2009

On Getting the Call: Do as I Say Not as I Do

Be prepared. It's the Boy Scout motto and if you are querying it should be your motto too. The phone could ring any second, and you want to be ready for it if it does.

My first call from an agent came on a Thursday, morning. It came without any warning and it went something like this:

Look at caller ID. See agency name. THE agency name. That same agency name that I'd been visualizing on my caller ID ever since I sent the first query.

Try to remain calm. Let it ring 3 times and try not to let my voice crack as I answer the phone.

Me: (trying to sound nonchalant) Hello.

Her: Hi is this Natalie?

Me: Yes

Her: This is Amazing New Agent with Fantastic Agency. How are you?

Me: (trying to hold back a squeal) Good.

Her: Well, I'm calling because I just finished reading your rewrites for Underground. I loved them and I'd like to offer you representation.


Her: Yes.

Me: No way!

Her: Yes. Do you have any questions for me?

Me: (Silence)

It wasn't that I was completely unprepared. I had a file marked "Questions to Ask an Offering Agent" that I had been adding to as I read agent blogs and discovered all the things that author should know about an agent before they sign.

The thing was, I never actually thought I'd get to USE them. So instead of asking her anything important, I just sat there in silence while she told me all the things she liked about my book and I said "I'm so excited," and "I'm just so excited," over an over again.

Luckily she is a very kind and patient person and she didn't retract her offer then and there. She asked if I had any full manuscripts out still (I did), and told me I should probably let them all know I had an offer and give them a deadline to respond if they were interested too. Then she told me if I thought of any questions that I wanted to ask I could email or call anytime. (yes, I am now allowed to CALL the agency! I haven't done it yet... but I could if I wanted to.)

I emailed the questions just as soon as I got off the phone with friends and family members (5 hours later).

When the second agent called I was a little more prepared. She emailed first to say she wanted to talk. I had my list of questions out during our conversation and I managed to refrain from squealing--mostly. (I think I slipped when she mentioned she'd worked on my favorite YA book EVER!).

So I'm not sure what I'm trying to say here besides BE PREPARED! That phone call could come when you are least expecting it and you don't want to sound like a want to sound like a star-struck teenager (or like me).

Have any of you with agents handled the call with grace? If you are still in the query game are you prepared?


MeganRebekah said...

I think that most of the conversation would take place in a fog. My mouth would be moving, words would come out, but my brain would be jumping for joy and fighting hard to contain it and sound professional.

I'm sure you did an excellent job!!!

Marybeth Poppins said...

Too funny! I'd probably do the same thing! Or get so excited I'd miss the phone call. LOL

Congrats on getting an agent :) Love that you are a fellow 28 yr old mother of three!

Jennifer Shirk said...

LOL! Too funny.

I did the same thing when an editor called me to buy my book. I think I even asked, "Are you sure?" LOL!
My mind went completely blank. But she told me, "After we hang up you're going to have questions." And I did. :)

It helps to be prepared.

beth said...

Oh, WOW. That is such an amazing story!!! Congratulations!!

Lazy Writer said...

I would probably do the same thing. I also have a list of questions ready, but if there was no warning for the call, I wouldn't have them handy. I'll keep this in mind when I start querying again.

Dawn VanderMeer said...

I have a list-in-progress. I'll make sure it's handy when I start querying again.

What a fun post. And you're right--we have to be prepared. Thanks for the reminder. :)

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Love the way you wrote this post and the reminder to be prepared. Although sometimes excitement just wins.

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

I think I'd prob pass out. There would only be talking on their end. Way to stay conscious. :)