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Thread: A Ratings List of Agents?

  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Question A Ratings List of Agents?

    Have I missed this while perusing this site?

    Namely, isn't there any list of agents here or anywhere that writers have submitted....and the agents are rated and/or given comments concerning what the writer experienced with the particular agent?? We certainly have a list of the 20 WORST agencies. Where's the list of the best??

    Janie

  2. #2
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Just as every writer has his or her own particular subject, genre, style, and tone, every literary agent has his or her own particular skills, specialties, interests, and ways of doing business. For the best results, there needs to be a good match between what the writer brings to the table and what the agent has to offer. The best agent for one writer may be the worst agent for another.

    The way to identify the "best" agents for you is to look for agents who are actively selling books in your subject or genre to the kinds of publishers you'd like to be published by. There are many ways to do this, from research in popular market guides to identifying writers whose books are similar to yours and trying to find out who agents them.

    - Victoria

  3. #3
    practical experience, FTW jkorzenko's Avatar
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    Also, Janie -- if you take a moment to familiarize yourself with this site you'll find that all agent-specific threads have been indexed and linked in an easy-to-follow format. Rather than jump to conclusions, explore the site -- I guarantee you'll be amazed by the mass of information available.

    J.

  4. #4
    Summer time Blues Pamster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by victoriastrauss
    Just as every writer has his or her own particular subject, genre, style, and tone, every literary agent has his or her own particular skills, specialties, interests, and ways of doing business. For the best results, there needs to be a good match between what the writer brings to the table and what the agent has to offer. The best agent for one writer may be the worst agent for another.

    The way to identify the "best" agents for you is to look for agents who are actively selling books in your subject or genre to the kinds of publishers you'd like to be published by. There are many ways to do this, from research in popular market guides to identifying writers whose books are similar to yours and trying to find out who agents them.

    - Victoria
    Can you list some of these popular market guides? I mean I know the Writer's Market for Literary Agents is a good market guide but what else beyond going to their websites and looking can we be looking at to get market insights from? Thanks in advance for the help and all the advice, it's so encouraging to post with published authors who are trying to mentor younger less experienced writers like myself.

    Hi Janie, welcome to the Cooler!

  5. #5
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    My article on researching an agent's track record offers some suggestions.

    - Victoria

  6. #6
    Summer time Blues Pamster's Avatar
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    Thanks Victoria! Off to read it now.

  7. #7
    keeping my head peevy's Avatar
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    Hi, Janie. You can also try the Preditors and Editors site. They list agents as well and sometimes having ratings/comments.

  8. #8
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by victoriastrauss
    My article on researching an agent's track record offers some suggestions.

    - Victoria
    Great article, Victoria!

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  10. #10
    Lost in the Fog rugcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald


    "1. If you're writing fiction, the True Secret Answer is "get an
    offer." If you've got an offer, you can get an agent. If you don't
    have an offer, you don't want the kind of agent you're likely to get."
    --
    Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

    I'm sorry, but as much as I respect Teresa Nielsen Hayden and her extensive knowledge of publishing, this is simply not true. Since most of the larger publishers are closed to unagented submissions, if it were true there would then be almost no debut novels. Plenty of top rate agents look at material from unpublished writers and if it's good enough, they offer representation.

    I realize I'm opening myself up to ridicule by disagreeing with a revered maven of publishing, but I think it's important not to let that statement stand without question. If you accept it as gospel, there would be no point in the entire agent query and submission process - it would be a waste of time.

  11. #11
    Summer time Blues Pamster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rugcat

    "1. If you're writing fiction, the True Secret Answer is "get an
    offer." If you've got an offer, you can get an agent. If you don't
    have an offer, you don't want the kind of agent you're likely to get."
    --Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

    I'm sorry, but as much as I respect Teresa Nielsen Hayden and her extensive knowledge of publishing, this is simply not true. Since most of the larger publishers are closed to unagented submissions, if it were true there would then be almost no debut novels. Plenty of top rate agents look at material from unpublished writers and if it's good enough, they offer representation.

    I realize I'm opening myself up to ridicule by disagreeing with a revered maven of publishing, but I think it's important not to let that statement stand without question. If you accept it as gospel, there would be no point in the entire agent query and submission process - it would be a waste of time.
    I have to agree even though I am sitting here in the agent querying stage still and haven't found one to take on my work yet, I still think that there is someone out there who will take on my writing and sell it for me because like rugcat says, I think that if the writing is good enough the offers will happen.

    But you only get that by sending out the queries to the right agents. I know subjective thing trying to say the 'right agents', but the point remains that the right one is probably the one that will say yes, or so we can hope.

  12. #12
    What? I have a title? Julie Worth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rugcat

    "1. If you're writing fiction, the True Secret Answer is "get an
    offer." If you've got an offer, you can get an agent. If you don't
    have an offer, you don't want the kind of agent you're likely to get."
    --Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

    Since most of the larger publishers are closed to unagented submissions, if it were true there would then be almost no debut novels.... If you accept it as gospel, there would be no point in the entire agent query and submission process - it would be a waste of time.
    I agree with Hayden. And I agree with you too--there aren't many decent publishers that accept queries, but there are a few. I'll give you an example from a book I finished early last year. Of approximately one hundred queries to agents, five showed some interest (ie, requested the full). Five lousy percent. And none bit. Several, in fact, said that publishers wouldn't be interested in such a book, and half didn't bother to respond at all. So I began querying the largest publishers that still accept them. Out of the five I queried, three requested the full, one didn't respond, and one sent me a personal letter saying they no longer published fiction. A remarkable difference!

  13. #13
    Accordion Dreams Susan B's Avatar
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    It's not impossible for unpublished writers...

    I was also puzzled to read that assertion that unpublished writers are better off querying publishers directly, since they'll never get a decent agent. It just doesn't fit with what I've read and heard--or with my own experience, though mine does relate more to nonfiction/memoir.

    Two of us in my nonfiction critique group, both unpublished, signed with reputable NY agents in the last year. (The other person went on to a deal with Random House, and his book comes out this year. My agent has just recently started sending mine out; no takers so far.) Certainly, it is an uphill climb, but it can happen.

    I followed an initial query strategy suggested by a writing mentor: send out few queries to agents, and a few directly to publishers (in my case, university presses.) The response can give you an idea of whether your book appears commercially viable enough to attract an agent. By keeping the numbers small, you can learn from the response, and make adjustments accordingly. (But you can read more about this elsewhere.)

    Good luck!

  14. #14
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    The "get an offer first" thing can work--if you get an offer. But given how unwilling the large publishers are these days to deal with unagented novelists (with the possible exception of romance, because the market for romance is so huge), it makes much more sense to me to expend your energy on trying to find an agent.

    Another reason that getting the offer first may not work...Suppose you do get an offer. Suppose you then write to your dream agent and she takes you on. How do you know what was uppermost in her mind--liking your ms. or making a quick 15%? If the latter, this may possibly become a source of problems with your next book.

    - Victoria

  15. #15
    Summer time Blues Pamster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Susan B
    I was also puzzled to read that assertion that unpublished writers are better off querying publishers directly, since they'll never get a decent agent. It just doesn't fit with what I've read and heard--or with my own experience, though mine does relate more to nonfiction/memoir.

    I am puzzled by that as well Susan, I too have a memoir I am trying to interest someone in. Though I might start querying publishers if I exhaust all the agents who handle memoirs. It seems that I will hit the bottom of that list soon, same problem as I have with my kids' stories. I am running out of agents to query.

    Two of us in my nonfiction critique group, both unpublished, signed with reputable NY agents in the last year. (The other person went on to a deal with Random House, and his book comes out this year. My agent has just recently started sending mine out; no takers so far.) Certainly, it is an uphill climb, but it can happen.

    I followed an initial query strategy suggested by a writing mentor: send out few queries to agents, and a few directly to publishers (in my case, university presses.) The response can give you an idea of whether your book appears commercially viable enough to attract an agent. By keeping the numbers small, you can learn from the response, and make adjustments accordingly. (But you can read more about this elsewhere.)

    Good luck!
    That is so good to know, thanks for sharing that Susan. Welcome to the Absolute Write Water Cooler, a pleasure to make your acquaintance.

  16. #16
    Accordion Dreams Susan B's Avatar
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    Thanks, Pamster, for the welcome! (I've been reading for awhile, but as you can see have only posted a couple of times.) Do you belong to a critique group of some kind, either face-to-face or online? Or take writing classes? That is one other important thing, to get ongoing feedback about our writing. I know that's been invaluable to me. Good luck! Susan B.

  17. #17
    What? I have a title? Julie Worth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by victoriastrauss
    Another reason that getting the offer first may not work...Suppose you do get an offer. Suppose you then write to your dream agent and she takes you on. How do you know what was uppermost in her mind--liking your ms. or making a quick 15%? If the latter, this may possibly become a source of problems with your next book.
    This also worried me, and I wonder if it might be better to do the first deal without an agent, and then shop for an agent on the second book, where you have the advantage of being a published (or soon to be published) author.

  18. #18
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    You can get some seriously lousy terms in that first contract. Having someone who can defuse the landmines helps. A lot.

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