How to prepare for the call: A guest post from Ava Jae

I am so excited to have my CP and good friend, Ava Jae, on the blog today! I’ve read a lot of her work, and it was all fantastic, so when she told me she’d signed with an agent, I squeed loud enough for the satellites to hear.

Today, Ava’s going to share with us her experience with THE CALL. How to prepare for it, what to expect, etc. It’s that scary thing every writer has to do before they sign with an agent. So, without further ado, here’s the amazing Ava Jae! And if you like what she has to say here, you really should check out her blog for LOTS of amazing writing wisdom
So youve been hunkering down in the query trenches for some time, now. Youve sent out partial and full requests and youve bitten your nails down to stubs, and every e-mail notification gives you a mini-heart attack until you realize its just spam again.

Oh, the joys of the query trenches.

But then the day comesyour e-mail notification goes off and you race to your inbox and lo and behold, an agent of awesomeness wants to talk to you.

Yes, my friend, you are about to have The Call.

At this point, youre probably feeling a mixture of spit-out-your-coffee-and-scream-and-jump-and-run-everywhere excited and holy-shiznizz-is-this-happening-I-cant-breathe-wheres-my-paper-bag nervous. (Or maybe that was just me. But Im willing to bet it wasnt just me).

The first thing you need to do is breathe, and after that, follow these steps:

0. Research the agent. This is step zero because you should have been doing this looooong before you got the e-mail requesting a phone call. Ideally, you should research every agent you query, then if you get a full request, research even more. You should know who some of their clients are, what they represent, what their sales are like, and if theyve interviewed online, you should have read every interview ever. If you havent done this, then nows catch-up time: research the hell out of the agent. This is important because a) you may be working with them for the rest of your career (SQUEE) and b) it saves you from asking questions you could have answered yourself.

1. Write down questions. There are tons of posts online listing some great questions to ask an agent, so Im not going to rehash them here (though if youre interested, here and here and here are some of those aforementioned posts. And also, here and here are some questions they may ask you).

The important part of this step is you make sure you write down the questions. Because I promise you, when youre having The Call, youre going to be very excited and nervous and youre going to forget things.

2. Prepare a note sheet. I used Evernote for my Call notes, mostly because I can type way faster than I can handwrite. Notes are important, because after you have your Call, youre going to forget a lot of it. Yep.

Sure, youll remember highlights and things that really stuck out to you, but overall looking back, chances are likely itll all be one buzzy blur, which wont be helpful when youre trying to decide whether or not youre going to accept or which agents offer youre going to accept.

3. Prepare yourself. The Call isnt just about an offer of representationits the time when the potential agent will likely share editorial ideas and youll talk to see if its likely that youll work well together. If you go in with an open mind and consider what the agent says, youll be fine.

4. Take a deep breath and try to relax. Once youve done your research, written down questions that are important to you and prepared a note sheetall you can do is wait. Right before the call, I recommend drinking some tea or listening to calming music or something to help settle your nerves (if youre dealing with nerves).

5. Finally, dont accept right away. I know its tempting to jump up and scream I VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE the moment you hear the words Offering representation, but its in your best interest to resist that impulse. You need time to really consider everything the agent said, and you also need to give other agents who have your query, partial or full manuscript time to respond to Agent 1s offer. You never knowit might not be the last Call you have.