Oh most hallowed Snark,
Earlier this year, one of my writing pals signed with an agent we both believed was the cat's meow (down, KY). Since then, my friend has discovered that while her agent may have an excellent track record, she's not on the same wavelength as my friend when it comes to communication. In corresponding with some of the agent's other clients recently, my friend has learned the agent is known for being a little unresponsive and scattered. *(maybe cause she's selling stuff instead of yapping on the phone?--just a thought)
I'm hoping to avoid the same situation, but I'm not sure when it's appropriate to start asking questions. I've had several requests for fulls recently, and two of my top choice agents have emailed me some specific questions about my career goals, what I'm looking for in an agent relationship, and which other agents are considering the work.
I've done plenty of google searches on both agents and have read everything I can find, but I'm craving specifics about what it's like to work with each of them. I'd love to send a polite inquiry to a couple clients on each agent's list, but I don't know if that's appropriate at this stage.
Is it best to wait until I've got an offer on the table before I start "checking references"? What's the best way to determine, in advance, which agent might be the better fit? I know it's entirely possible neither one will offer representation, but I'm just trying to be prepared.
A devoted Snarkling
It's fine to ask now. No reputable agent is going to care much if you ask clients what it's like to work with them. Reputable agents don't need to worry what anyone will say.
That said, if you're emailing people you don't know, remember that their experience may not translate to yours. I have had clients who were total pains in the ass. I'm sure they thought I was unresponsive cause I was an idiot. My perspective was I was unresponsive cause I hated talking to them. I have a client now who probably wouldn't use the word unresponsive, but he would say he never reaches me on the phone. That's cause he always calls after 7pm or on weekends when I don't answer the phone unless I've made an appointment to speak to someone.