Agent Barbara Poelle On: Three Things Debut Authors Should Know When Signing With an Agent

Barbara Poelle is an agent with the Irene Goodman Literary Agency. Barbara’s co-agent, Irene Goodman, offers manuscript critiques on eBay every month, starting on the first day of each month, with all proceeds going to charity. Go to for more details on these critiques and charity auctions.


Three things debut authors should know
when signing with an agent:

1. Write down questions to ask the agent.
Some debut authors are nervous about taking up an agent’s time so they will not communicate concerns or questions upon an offer on representation. After the initial rush and excitement of the offer, there will most definitely be questions, but oftentimes, the mind will go blank when you are actually on the phone. Make sure you take some time to mull over any questions you may have at this step in the process, so that you are prepared when the offer comes in!

2. Make sure the agent has all your info. Make sure, after signing, that the agent has all of your contact information, and also ask what promotional materials they might need for their website (a jpeg of an author photo, the link to your website, etc). And please communicate when you will be traveling, whether professionally or personally, and how to reach you, as you never know when that fabulous offer may come in!

3. Ask and ye shall be informed! Unfortunately, it’s not called the Publishing Are-Everyone’s-Feelings-Okay?, it’s called the Publishing Industry. When one goes from a creative endeavor into the actual publishing process, it’s a bit daunting and disorienting. Where once you were quietly tapping away on your laptop, now you have a lot of cooks in your kitchen needing you to play the most bizarre game of red-light/green-light in the world. With that in mind, make sure that you feel comfortable asking at each new stage of your career, “What comes next?” for we, as agents, are involved in the belly of the beast daily and will oftentimes forget that new experiences can be unsettling. There is never a worse feeling than when a client is under informed and becomes upset! As a debut author you don’t even know what you don’t know, so make sure you’re comfortable asking.

And remember: If you’re looking to bid on an awesome manuscript critique with proceeds going to charity, go to for more details.

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