Updated: Dec 19, 2021
I probably should have waited until Halloween to do this tip, but oh well...aptness be damned! June's tip is about how to not freak out an agent (by avoiding some key red flags).
You keep asking questions about our performance and what we will do for you. It is important to outline the parameters of a potential relationship with an agent and get a sense of their approach/style, but pushing on an issue (like which Big Five publisher we think will sell your book or how much money we think we can get for your project) raises a flag. This makes many of us think you are going to be unrealistic and demanding and not view the relationship as a working partnership.
You complete your R&R in like 2.5 seconds or say that you JUST finished the manuscript you're querying me about now. I know some authors take pride in the fact that they can speed through revisions quickly, but as an agent, that makes me groan inside. Number 1: that means you're going to expect me to read and respond at a similar time rate, which is just not happening. Number 2: it makes me wonder how thoughtfully you are approaching the changes I am asking you to make. Taking your time with revisions is not a bad thing and you should be sure to revise, revise, revise all your drafts before sending a story out into the world!
You ask for me to give you examples of very basic things, e.g. asking me to point out specific instances in your story where you show instead of tell. Part of being an agent is helping your clients grow as authors, but there is a certain level of crafting skill that we expect you to have locked down before you query us. If you need more fundamental assistance with your writing, then you should first consider working with CPs or freelance editors.
You say you were recommended to me by someone I don't know. You don't need to work a random connection in order to query someone and we would rather authors be upfront with us about recommendations.
So keep your cool and don't be afraid to take your time with revisions or doing what needs to be done to get yourself and your manuscript to the right level. You can also read one of my previous tips about how to interact with agents to carbo-load on advice and be the best, shiniest version of yourself when querying!