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Thread: Best agents?

  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Best agents?

    I noticed above, and had come across before, the list of the 20 worst agents/agencies. I wondered, has there ever been a list of the (20) best agents?

  2. #2
    figuring it all out
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    I think this is a rare case where a "20 worst" is actually less problematic than a "20 best". It would be easy to slight someone by leaving him or her off the "best" list. Whereas it doesn't matter a bit if one of the 20 worst is slighted by being on the "worst".

  3. #3
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Here's why Writer Beware (which created the 20 Worst List) doesn't create a 20 Best List.

    - Victoria

  4. #4
    practical experience, FTW
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    Victoria has posted her thoughts on this on her blog, but the reason is really pretty simple:

    A really good agent may not be 'best' for any given author...
    but a really bad agent is a bad agent for anyone.

    ----------------------

    A lot of great agents and agencies aren't even on the general radar screen, as they are low-profile operations without websites. Ever hear of Donadio & Olsen, for example? Aaron Priest? Joy Harris? Ralph Vicinanza? Janklow & Nesbit? Nary a website between them. This will probably change...someday; plenty of great agencies now have websites. But, as stressed many times, good agents don't need to advertise.
    Last edited by UrsusMinor; 07-13-2006 at 06:03 AM.

  5. #5
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Nicely encapsulated, Ursus.

    - Victoria

  6. #6
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Top Ten Lit Agencies Thread?

    Hi there,
    I have researched the boards and come up with zilch, so if someone can point me in the right direction I will sod off to the right thread!

    But I was wondering if there is a Top Ten NYC lit agencies, North American lit agencies or Top Ten US lit agents list floating around on Absolute Write? I know of the Writers Beware 20 Worst Agents list so is there a list of the best of the best? I have created my own personal little list comprising of ICM, WME, Curtis Brown -- and done so by cross-checking here, agency websites, querytracker and agentquery etc etc --but was wondering if one of the moderators, or an AW veteran, had created a definitive Top Ten Best List.

    Ok, ciao!

  7. #7
    Rewriting My Destiny Cyia's Avatar
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    No such thing. Agents are specialized, so you can't compare one to the other to find a "best" for all writers.



  8. #8
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    ... Writers House would have to be up there. What Cyia says is true, though. Even the big agencies don't handle all genres, and are rather selective in what they represent. Purchase a copy of Writer's Market, if you haven't already. Good place to look.

  9. #9
    Purveyor of sacrilege davidhburton's Avatar
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    A Top 10 List of agencies is entirely subjective. I write fantasy, so what might be in your Top 10 would not necessarily be in mine. Also, it depends on your rapport with the agent/agency. There are folks that have left an agent to go elsewhere (despite that agent being considered in the "top") and there are others that have followed an agent who has gone out on their own (ex. left Writer's House to start their own smaller agency).

    I would suggest doing a LOT of research on the genre of the material you are submitting. Querytracker and agentquery are good places to start to find agents that potentially represent your genre and then start whittling down your list from there based on further research of those agents to create your own Top 10 list. It will be worth the effort, I assure you.
    Last edited by davidhburton; 10-28-2009 at 05:16 PM.
    David H. Burton - http://davidhburton.com


  10. #10
    That door could be a time portal... Deb Kinnard's Avatar
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    The previous posters are spot on. A "top ten" selling agent in my genre (Christian fic) might not be an agent anyone else has even heard of. In mainstream fic it's somewhat different. If I wrote in mainstream, the first names that would pop into my head would be Donald Maas, Nathan Bransford, Natasha Kern, and the like. My top-ten list would never be the same as yours, and I suspect that's a good thing.
    WIP: "Seasons of Hope," 1356, Cornwall

    Three-part time travel romance. Part One, SEASONS IN THE MIST now available, Desert Breeze
    Part Two, SEASONS OF RECKONING, releasing in April, Desert Breeze

    An inspiration... ...I have a serious case of Grobanosis

  11. #11
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Lucy Dashwood's Avatar
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    The best agent is someone who submits your project in a timely fashion, keeps on top of the publisher for you and returns your phone calls.
    Nothing is inevitable.

  12. #12
    Noob Writers United Eddyz Aquila's Avatar
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    What about a Top 10 for every section? Like Top 10 Fantasy, Top 10 Science Fiction...

  13. #13
    Feeling lucky, Query? jclarkdawe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lucy Dashwood View Post
    The best agent is someone who submits your project in a timely fashion, keeps on top of the publisher for you and returns your phone calls.
    Because not every writer want the same thing from an agentcy. And Ken gives a perfect example.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken View Post
    ... Writers House would have to be up there. What Cyia says is true, though. Even the big agencies don't handle all genres, and are rather selective in what they represent. Purchase a copy of Writer's Market, if you haven't already. Good place to look.
    Now Ken is right that Writers House is a good agency. But for me? No thanks. They do my genre, and have done it in the past very well. And I have sent queries to them.

    But they are not in my top ten, or even top twenty. The reason? They seem to run by committee and they're large. It appears that an agent's decision there is in part, at least, ruled by a committee of all of the agents in the firm. There's absolutely nothing wrong with this, but I don't want it. Personally I'd prefer a small agency with one, maybe two agents. For me, it's easier to work with that type of setup.

    So how, in setting up a list of the top whatever, do you factor in the fact that Ken's and my needs from an agency are different? Ignoring all of Victoria's reasons, that's why a list of the top agencies would be entirely meaningless. What works for you might not be the best for anyone else.

    Best of luck,

    Jim Clark-Dawe
    EQUINE LIABILITY: WHAT EVERY HORSEOWNER NEEDS TO KNOW Published 2002 sold through

    GEORGE'S STORY MORTON'S FORK Let's see how many agents I can catch with the query

    THE NEXT STEP ASHES TO ASHES INTO THE VALLEY (48,00079,000 words) Need to up my game.

    THE PICTURE Might be my next project.

  14. #14
    Sailed away years ago ORION's Avatar
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    I think Dorian Karchmar from William Morris Endeavor Entertainment ROCKS...I really love her shoes.
    Oh and she's a great agent, too.
    Patricia Wood
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    Patricia Wood's debut novel LOTTERY is available for sale at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Borders and your local independent book store.
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  15. #15
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Thank you for all your responses. And yes, QT, AQ and AW have become my best friends!
    It is obvious to me though that the best agency for me is not necessarily going to be the best agency for someone else - of course my dream agent for SF is not going to be the dream agent of someone writing Christian ficiton, so I suppose the original question needed to be framed much more clearly: Top Ten agencies in the US (based on overall sales/best-seller lists). And I really liked Eddyz Aquila's suggestion of Top Ten for Genres... Anyhow, I will head over to PW and PM and check out overall sales info.

    I would like to say there are many international writers on this website and all we can do is rely on the internet for information - we don't have MFA programs, creative writing courses, university professors, or all the brilliant writer workshops/query pitch weekends/festivals you have in the States - heck, not even bookstores down the road (not one in my hood - closest one is 65kms away). All we have is the great forums at Absolute Write to cross-check agents and agencies, which is why I asked if there was a definitive list.
    Thanks for all your advice.
    Tea Rose.
    Last edited by tea rose; 11-10-2009 at 01:00 AM.

  16. #16
    Learning to read more, post less
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    The very best agents are usually ones you've never heard of because they don't have websites, don't advertise, and only handle top writers.

    The next step down is what most have to settle for, and you know these, too, by the list of clients they handle.

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