What are your thoughts on agents who make "the call" but only to gauge the writer's interest in revising, as opposed to offering representation?
Note: This has happened to me twice. I'm beyond frustrated and, quite frankly, a tad insulted that (proverbially speaking) an agent won't put a ring on my finger until they see how I perform in bed. Sounds crude, but it's true :/
My thoughts are, would you like it more if we called with form rejections?
I'm not sure how "the call" came to be the expectation for how agents offered representation, or that the only time an agent calls is to offer representation.
I've called several people at that query stage, and it wasn't to offer representation, it was to straighten out something like missing pages, or screwy manuscript format, or some other lesser matter. I'm really sorry if they were disappointed about the subject of the call, but it's a whole lot easier to do some of this stuff by phone rather than email.
You've set yourself up here. If an agent calls you to discuss revision, it's a whole lot better than a form rejection.
And trust me, finding out if an author is open to revision is one of the key things I'd want to know before offering to take them on as a client.
"The call" is like "happy book birthday"--something invented within the last couple years that has taken on an importance that is not warranted. It's a shorthand used by authors to talk amongst themselves, but it's not a shorthand used here. I can't think of a time when I've said "time to make The Call" when I was considering taking on a client. In fact, by the time we get to that point, we've had SEVERAL phone calls.
Try not to see it as an insult. It's an expression of interest. In other words, it's a good thing.