Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 21, 2013

10 Questions to Ask an Agent

lpe-headshotAgent Linda P Epstein at Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency over at her “the Blabbermouth” blog had a nice post with some thoughtful questions she received from her client Lesley Cheah last year, plus some from herself.

I thought I would share them with you, so you would be prepared when you get a call from an agent you have queried, instead of dropping the phone, screaming, and dancing around. Hope it helps – maybe print them out and put them by the phone.

Here is Linda and Lesley: 

GUEST POST: 10 Questions To Ask An Agent When You Get The Call

  1. Do you work on a book-by-book basis or do you sign a client for the duration of their career?
  2. How editorial of an agent are you? What revision suggestions do you have for this manuscript?
  3. The manuscript you’re signing me with is a YA contemporary. What if my next manuscript is a post-apocalyptic picture book featuring killer robots?
  4. What do you think your strengths are as an agent?
  5. What are some of the titles you sold last year? Which publishers did you sell them to?
  6. What is your submission strategy for this manuscript and how much information will you share during the submission process?
  7. What is your usual response time when I have a question or when I submit new material?
  8. What are some of your standard agency terms e.g. commission, policy on termination, fees charged, etc?
  9. What happens if you leave your current agency or if you quit agenting altogether?
  10. May I contact some of your clients?

Here is some information about Linda:

Linda Epstein, Associate Agent

Before joining JDLA as an Associate Agent in 2011, Linda read manuscripts, book proposals, and queries at Folio Literary Management; was Submissions Manager at the McVeigh Agency; and interned at the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency and also Meryl Zegarek Public Relations.  Prior to that she was Community Relations Manager at Barnes and Noble, where she set up author readings and signings and organized book groups and book fairs.  Currently, Linda co-edits The New York Bookwoman, the newsletter of the New York chapter of the Women’s National Book Association, and manages their blog.  She also leads workshops about publishing at Hofstra University.  Linda graduated from Buffalo University with a BA in English and Environmental Studies and went on for graduate work in Creative Writing at Temple University.  She also holds a BSN from New York University.  Linda is an avid reader, a fiction writer, the mother of three children, and a native New Yorker whose breath is taken away every single time she sees the NYC skyline.

Adult Fiction

Linda is very interested in accessible literary fiction and quality upscale commercial fiction as well as unique science fiction and fantasy. I love things offbeat and unusual, but not gratuitously weird. When I read a manuscript I want to be so immersed in its world that I can’t put it down and a distinctive voice is imperative. I’m looking for character driven stories with a well-polished story arc (i.e. don’t skimp on the plot!). I’m usually the wrong person for romance, horror, thrillers and mysteries, and I won’t read anything with dead, maimed, or kidnapped children.

For Children’s Fiction

She loves both middle-grade and YA fiction. I’m not currently looking for picture books. I appreciate the same things in books for kids as I do for adult fiction. For middle-grade, it should be particularly character driven and quirky, with excellent pacing and rhythm.  For YA the same, plus stories that touch upon questions of identity and social issues.

I am particularly committed to representing books that include, are about, or are geared toward people in the LBGTQ community, for both adult and children’s literature.

To Submit   

Please Note that Linda is closed to unsolicited submissions until October 1, 2013. Email a query to and put “Query” in the subject line of your email after that date.

For queries regarding children’s and adult fiction, please send the first twenty pages in the body of your email, along with a one-paragraph bio and a one-paragraph synopsis.

For queries regarding a non-fiction book, please attach the entire proposal as a Word document (the proposal should include a sample chapter), along with a one-paragraph bio and a one-paragraph synopsis of your book in the body of your email.

Thanks to Linda and Leslie for sharing this list with us.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. These are great! I’m going to make some up for ARTISTS to ask too – for my blog! wonderful…. but all should pick the 5 or 6 that are most important maybe so you don’t look like a ‘trouble maker’ right off the bat!! LOL (but seriously….) I like a person who has a plan, and wants to know mine, but….


    • Chris,

      Thanks for giving you your important perspective on this subject. I really adds to the conversation.

      Hot here today.



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