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Thread: Favorite Agents-

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW
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    Favorite Agents-

    I've seen referenced here a number of times "favorite agents".

    If you don't mind, how are you (by you I mean you in the most general of terms) determining which agents you want to work with?

    Previous books they've published? Reputation? Cutest picture?

  2. #2
    Hopeful romantic/hopeless pedant ARoyce's Avatar
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    I can only speak for my own experience...but I researched agents online and began following some agent blogs long, long before I was ready to query.

    So my favorite agents tend to be ones who've been very informative and nice online, even if they don't represent the genre I'm writing. While I do also have great respect for agents I've read about in the industry, I've grown fond of agents who share a lot of their knowledge through blogs and online newsletters and online forums---AND have a demonstrated sales history. For instance, I've been a longtime fan of Kristin Nelson, Janet Reid, BookEnds, and Nathan Bransford, just toname a few--all of them offer great online resources to writers and all of them have great sales and reputations. And all strike me as very nice, down-to-earth people/agencies.

    There are more I follow and admire, but I think these are the ones I've been following the longest.
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  3. #3
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  4. #4
    Writing Anarchist DeleyanLee's Avatar
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    First thing I did when thinking about agents is figuring out what I want out of the relationship. Some authors want someone who will brainstorm with them. Some want cheerleaders. Some just want someone who will stay out of everything and just sell the book when it's done. Some want some mix of that or something completely different. Until you have a clue what you might need for that relationship, you've no idea what it is you're looking for in an agent.

    When I look at agents, I look at how they work with their clients (which means I talk to as many of their clients as I can). Then I look at agents who give to their clients the kind of things that I want in that relationship. That's my list.

    With that list, go through and verify that they do take what I write. What kinds of sales records they have, etc., etc.

    Working with an agent is a partnership. It can get personal or it can be strictly professional. Someone can be one of the best agents in the world, but if how they deal with clients doesn't mesh with the client's needs, they're not going to be a great agent for that person.

    I've had many friends who have been signed by some of the biggest names in the agenting business. But because they didn't mesh, my friends were either dropped by those agents, were agent-shopping again within a year or so or trapped into contracts that killed either their career or their ability to write. But I've also seen friends who got the right agent and their careers soared.
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  5. #5
    Sword-wielding cyborg elindsen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Parkinsonsd View Post
    I've seen referenced here a number of times "favorite agents".

    If you don't mind, how are you (by you I mean you in the most general of terms) determining which agents you want to work with?

    Previous books they've published? Reputation? Cutest picture?
    I hope the agent hasn't published anything

    Books they've sold is key. Next, I'd say if they have a good record, probably personaility. I couldn't work so closely with someone that I didn't gel with on a level.

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  6. #6
    My New Cat Is Too Big for Shoulders Corinne Duyvis's Avatar
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    It's a mix of brains and heart.

    Brains: Do they represent my genre? Do they seem interested in the particular kind of novel I write? Are they with legitimate agencies? Do their clients seem happy with their representation? And, of course--how are their sales?

    Sales can mean a lot of things: number of sales, the money involved, the publishers sold to, etc.

    Then there's heart: When you read their interviews, Twitter accounts, or blog posts, do they seem like someone you'd want to work with? Can you envision yourself discussing contracts with them? Edits? Brainstorming ideas? Would you feel comfortable having them as your back-up in negotiations? Would you feel at ease with them, or constantly be worried about taking up their time, or constantly on the defensive?

    This, of course, depends on the kind of relationship you're after. Are you happy with a completely business-like one, or do you also want someone you can joke around with?

    If all those things collide, you've got yourselves a favorite agent. I'd caution against putting too much stock in that, though. Tons of agents who I thought would be a great fit for me and my work form R-ed every book I've sent them; clearly, we're not as good of a fit as I thought. Similarly, I think a lot of authors are a little too lenient with their 'dream agent' requirements--I actually blogged about that once: http://www.corinneduyvis.net/2012/02...-dream-agents/

    Plus, not all great agents have an online presence. Your best bet is to query those agents who are a good fit on the 'brain' front and leave the rest until later. Having favorite agents won't do you a lick of good if they don't want to work with you.
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  7. #7
    practical experience, FTW MrsBrommers's Avatar
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    When I was querying, I sought out agents who repped clients who similarly to my style or genre without repping something that was exactly the same. A few names started cropping up very frequently among the authors, and then I researched those agents online by looking at the agency's website, blog postings, interviews, and also checking out things like Query Tracker and the Bewares section here to see what their reputation was like. I was very lucky in that I wrote a solid query letter and had done enough research that all of my "favorite" agents requested my work and I signed with one of them. Researching agents to find who might be the best match takes a lot of time, but it can work out wonderfully, too.

    ETA: I also didn't know exactly who my favorite agent would be until I spoke on the phone with a few, and I picked the one who I clicked with and understood my writing and career goals.
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  8. #8
    A few years (and a few books) back when I first started querying, I had a short list of dream agents, and I based that list on a combination of what one can glean from their online presence, reputation (sales, career longevity, etc.), and in a few cases, my impression of them after meeting face-to-face at cons.

    Eventually, my concept of "dream agent" changed to "the agent who's the right match for me." Someone enthusiastic about my books, about the kind of career I want to have, about diversity in SF/F.

  9. #9
    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    Some of the best agents I know have very little online presence. By all means decide you like agents because they're fun online: but don't discount agents because they only appear on the internet via their website.

  10. #10
    Hero, villain, angel, demon AW Moderator Sage's Avatar
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    My faves are ones I've interacted with, usually during the process of query/request/rejection, but occasionally in person or over the 'net
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  11. #11
    Hopeful romantic/hopeless pedant ARoyce's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Hack View Post
    Some of the best agents I know have very little online presence. By all means decide you like agents because they're fun online: but don't discount agents because they only appear on the internet via their website.
    Oh, yes, I agree. One thing I don't think I made clear in my previous post--my "favorite agents" weren't totally aligned with my agent query list. When I queried, there were lots of agents I wanted to work with, lots who do a fabulous job repping my genre, and I queried much more widely. In my case, I never had a "dream agent" targeted for queries.

    There are agents I think are phenomenal, and then there just happen to be a segment of that group who I appreciate for their online presence and therefore have a certain fondness for.

    So I guess what I'm saying is that this depends on how you define "favorite agents."
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  12. #12
    practical experience, FTW Ken's Avatar
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    _ _ _ an agent's interests are a large factor for me. Mine aren't entirely common. So when I happen upon an agent with similar ones I get enthused. It can even be something like books they've read and like and mention in bios on the sites.

  13. #13
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    Like Corinne said, it really is a mix of head and heart.

    An agent could be the sweetest, kindest person in the world, but if they have no experience in your genre it may not work. Likewise, if an agent ticks most boxes in the business sense but a conversation is like pulling teeth then problems may develop.

    Similar to any relationship, it's about weighing the pros and cons, establishing what you are willing to compromise on and what is a dealbreaker. Then making that leap of faith, really!
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  14. #14
    Benefactor Member Mom's Avatar
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    An agent that believes in my book as much as I do is the ideal agent.

    I do have a few "favorite agents" who earned my (unwanted) affection through either their web presence or my personal interactions with them. What all my favorite agents have in common is a good sense of humor, a respectable degree of objective success, and a passion for their work.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Hack View Post
    Some of the best agents I know have very little online presence. By all means decide you like agents because they're fun online: but don't discount agents because they only appear on the internet via their website.
    I would nominate my former agent, a Senior Vice President at Curtis Brown Ltd. who passed away almost two years ago, the best of the best in any contest for great agents. She had no online presence and detested emails. Some of the real gems can be found by looking beyond the obvious.

  16. #16
    Procrastinator idontknowwhatimdoing's Avatar
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    Man, I went super-obsessive when narrowing down my list of agents to query. I have about 50 notebook pages filled with notes on every single one who reps my genre. I made notes about the quality of their websites, personalities, clients, interests, sales. I may have OCD. Also, I've been collecting notes for months and months haven't begun querying yet... yikes

    I have a "Top 26 Agents" list now, though, so that's something, right?

  17. #17
    practical experience, FTW FCameron's Avatar
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    I have a favorite list for who I think meshes with my personality and genre and who is respected.

    I follow agents on Twitter, even if they've rejected my manuscript because I believe that there's always something I can learn.

    This is my first attempt at getting fiction published. All of my non-fiction work was pitched directly to editors and boy, is this a different world from magazine articles and web content!

  18. #18
    Moonshade lauralam's Avatar
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    I too followed agents for a long time.

    I love my agent, but I also adore ones who rejected me, haha. They're lovely people, they just weren't the right agent for me. But I'll still happily recommend them to my querying friends.


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  19. #19
    Benefactor Member WeaselFire's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Parkinsonsd View Post
    If you don't mind, how are you (by you I mean you in the most general of terms) determining which agents you want to work with?
    The easy way -- Talk with them.

    Two of my favorites don't rep my genre.

    Jeff

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