What kind of questions do you ask authors before signing? If you've read a full manuscript and think, "Hey, this is a shark-worthy story", what questions are you going to ask the author before offering to sign her, to see if she's got what it takes to swim with a shark?
1. How offended are you by an agent who says fuck every third word? More than "some?" --ding!
2. How offended are you by revision suggestions? More than "any?" --ding!
3. How mad at me are you going to be if I can't sell this? Totally?? --DING.
Ok, I'm pulling your leg on this.
My first question is always:
(1)what's your long term goal?
Publishing is a long game and it's essential we both know where you want to end up before we start strategizing about how to get there.
(2)What else do you want to write?
I've learned by experience to ask this sooner rather than later. A novelist who really wants to write screenplays, or non-fiction, needs a different playbook than a novelist who wants to write a series, or stand alones.
(3)Have you talked to my other clients?
Do you know what you're in for? I want to make sure prospective clients have talked (or at least emailed) with current clients.
(4) What questions do you have?
(5) What are you worried or nervous about?
(6) What haven't I asked about that I should have?
(7) Are you ok with my active social media presence**
This has to be asked with more subtley in that writers will say "oh it's no problem" cause that's the expected answer. I've learned to listen for the questions they ask that indicate they are NOT ok with it.
This isn't some kind of industry standard in that if an agent doesn't ask, there's a red flag. This is my list. Other agents might ask different things.