I'm a huge fan of the blog (have been reading it since the first time I started querying, which was more than six years ago). 3 books later, I've received several offers of representation, and am thrilled! I've asked these agents questions from your blog post highlighting what to ask in this situation, including requesting to speak to the agents' clients. My question is, (1) what should I be asking the agents' clients, and how do I even approach this? (2) Do I ask my questions via email? (3)What would the subject line be?
Let's take these questions in reverse order:
(3) What would the subject line be:
You want your subject line to be clear and informative, thus "been offered rep by Janet Reid"
would be a good way to start.
You want to leave out anything like "checking references" or "is she loony tunes" here.
Do NOT NOT NOT expect to call a client on the phone.
Do NOT do this on Facebook even in a private message. Do not do this on Twitter via Direct Message.
And if you do this in a public forum, you will find the offer of representation (at least from me) withdrawn VERY quickly. Doing that indicates you're too much of a novice on social media and will probably be tone deaf.
The best way to avoid any mistake here is ask the agent how to contact her clients.
(1) What to ask.
The first thing you want to know is what she's like to work with. How long does it take her to answer your emails. How fast does she turn around manuscripts? Does she read your work at all? Is she responsive when problems surface? Is she proactive (bringing ideas or projects to the table)
Would the client recommend her?
Would the client have any tips on building a good relationship with the agent?
I'm stunned sometimes to hear writers talk about what their agents don't do. The most startling one for me is offer any kind of editorial feedback on manuscripts. Almost nothing goes to an editor unless I've read it first, even manuscripts that are second or third books in a series. I look at myself as the second set of eyes and the nit picky fact checker. I've caught lots of things that needed to be revised out of a manuscript. And I've heard from editors that they appreciate that what they get from me is a pretty clean draft.