A couple of different blogging agents have posted recently about the taboo of calling a prospective agent, and I’d like to chime in with my own endorsement of the “You probably shouldn’t call” policy. Clients should feel free to call their agents (really, I’m happy to talk, ohmigod did you see Lost the other night?? Do you think it’s purgatory or are they trying to trick us?), but most of the time prospective clients should not.
Here’s the thing about calling a prospective agent (and I get an average of five of these a day, sometimes more): it takes up time, and it seriously adds up. Most of the time people are inquiring about submission policies, and I respect that a lot of times submission policies are murky and not easy to research online. But here’s what you should do instead of calling when you don’t know an agency’s submission policies: Just guess.
Unless you see somewhere that an agent is definitely NOT taking submissions, you can assume that they are taking queries. You can assume that they want a query letter, you can assume that if you can’t specifically find that an agent takes e-queries you should send it in via the mail, and no one is going to kill you for sending a few sample pages. Just guess. No agent ever rejected a great manuscript because the author sent 15 pages when their submission guidelines calls for 10.
Oh, and if you’re calling up to pitch a project to me, you should know that I am a visual learner and when I hear a plot summary it goes in one ear, sails right through the tangled, dark miasma that is my brain, slaps high five with the portion of my brain devoted to sports, and goes right out the other ear. I need to read it if I’m going to make a decision, so no need to tell it to me over the phone.
Times when it’s ok to call: if you’re telling me I won the lottery and you work for the State Lotto Commission, if you are the general manager of the Sacramento Kings and you’d like to consult with me on a trade or draft pick, if you have appeared or will appear in an episode of The Hills and you are calling my homeboy phone, or if you’re a client or work in publishing.
Other than that, the post office and email are your friends!