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Thread: How to Find An Agent

  1. #1
    christinedg
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    How to Find An Agent

    As a first-time, unpublished author with no contacts, this is how I am researching agents to solicit.

    1. Research Jeff Herman's guide
    2. Research WritersMarket.com
    3. Google the particular agent/agency I'm interested in.
    4. Check the bewares thread and preditors and editors.
    5. Study the agent's/agency's website.

    If everything seems to check out, I'll send precisely what the agent is asking for. Am I missing any steps?

    Thanks in advance for your help!

  2. #2
    SimonSays
    Guest

    Re: Am I doing this right?

    Sounds pretty good Chris.

    One suggestion though, you should really target your search - so you query agents who rep your type of book. Check the acknowledgements in books that you like in your genre to see if the agent is thanked. Also when you check out the websites, see which agent in the agency handles what kind of stuff. A lot of agencies don't have websites. In those cases you should call the agency to see what their submission guidelines are.

    You should also check to see if the agents are AAR members.

    Stay away from:

    Agent who charge fees.

    Agents who will not give you their client list and/or tell you their recent sales.

    Agents who are actively soliciting clients through classified ads, or internet advertising links - most legit agencies are so swamped by queries that they have no need or time to advertise for clients.

    Agents who want more than the standard commission - 10-15% for U.S. publishing - 20% for subsidiary rights sales.

    Be prepared for a lot of rejections and make sure your query is really, really good. Most agents look at the query as a writing sample and not just as a cover letter.

  3. #3
    DaveKuzminski
    Guest

    Re: Am I doing this right?

    AAR membership is a plus, but there are a number of legitimate, reputable agencies that do not belong to it.

  4. #4
    christinedg
    Guest

    Re: Am I doing this right?

    I'm savvy re AAR and look for the agencies who are members, but I have heard, too, that there are good people who have chosen not to join.

    And, yes, I really have learned to pick the agents who might be interested in my genre. It's a waste of time and money to do otherwise!

    Well, good! I guess I'm doing this right. I just get worried when I see names of agents on this thread who are in reference books, etc. No guarantees, I guess.

    Thanks again for your insight!

  5. #5
    Tish Davidson
    Guest

    Re: Am I doing this right?

    When I was looking for an agent, after they met the criteria already mentioned, I looked gave preference to agencies that had 3 or more people in them. My thinking was that this eliminated any part time agents and that if it could support 3 people, it was probably a going concern. I am sure there are good one person agencies, but looking for larger although not huge agencies seemed to eliminate very new businesses.

  6. #6
    vstrauss
    Guest

    Re: Am I doing this right?

    You can also contact Writer Beware (beware@sfwa.org) to ask about any agent you aren't sure about. We'll search our files and let you know if we've received any complaints.

    - Victoria

  7. #7
    christinedg
    Guest

    Re: Am I doing this right?

    Tish, that's a good idea. And, Victoria, I will put Writers Beware in my favorites list!

    Thank you for the insight!

  8. #8
    HapiSofi
    Guest

    Re: Am I doing this right?

    Christinedg said:
    I just get worried when I see names of agents on this thread who are in reference books, etc. No guarantees, I guess.
    Indeed not. I've worked on reference books. They're put together by fallible human beings.

  9. #9
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    NEW AUTHORS NEED AGENTS

    Can you recommend some literary agents who are not crooks and who are a good bet for a new author? Or at least one who regrets signing with PA and wants to move on? HA HA!

    www.dahcstudios.com
    There are two kinds of people in the world...the righteous one who believes himself to be a sinner...and the sinner who believes himself to be righteous.

  10. #10
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Snag a copy of Jeff Herman's Guide, then cross-reference here:
    http://www.anotherealm.com/prededitors/
    ICAO
    ---------
    Achievers strive for excellence. Perfectionists drive themselves to extinction. -- A Grapple A Day
    I've never known any trouble that an hour's reading didn't assuage. -- Charles DeSecondat

    II 2016: 2017:

  11. #11
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    finding the right agent

    When you're looking for an agent lots of things come into play, including the chemistry between you. In some ways this is a business partnership, in some ways its a marriage.

    Please remember:
    • A bad agent is worse than no agent.
    • A useful agent has sold books that you've heard of.


    Everything You Wanted To Know About Literary Agents.

  12. #12
    practical experience, FTW Dhewco's Avatar
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    Jim, I kind of disagree with this statement, the last part of it anyway. Maybe it should say books that you can find on a shelf and by a reputable publisher. Several of the agents on www.agentquery.com have sold books to St. Martin's, Doubleday, and etc...but I have never heard of their books. Does that make them bad?

    I browse a bookstore often, but still there are books (in my genres mind you) by good companies that I don't know. It doesn't make their agents not useful.

    It's just the way I read your last bullitt(sp?) point.

    David

  13. #13
    Preditors & Editors Requiescat In Pace DaveKuzminski's Avatar
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    Dhewco, it's not meant to be written in stone, but is a general guideline as I view it. Jim's advice about a useful agent having sold something you've heard of means to me that it would be likely for me to be familiar with books in my area of writing and therefore it would be reasonable for me to recognize those books beside the names of agents who would be useful to me. I surely wouldn't want to send my work to the agent who sold a successful series of cookbooks even if I heard of those if he doesn't handle science fiction and what I have to offer is science fiction.
    When it comes to PA, the royalty check and the reality check arrive in the same envelope.

    Remember to be kind to writers who step in PA. They really don't know how bad it smells.

    The difference between PA and WLA? None. Both have the stench of dead and dying books emanating from their doorways.


  14. #14
    practical experience, FTW Dhewco's Avatar
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    Dave, that's what I said.

    There are agents who've sold books I've never heard of, to reputable publishers and in the genres I've written in.

    Should they be avoided because I haven't read those books, or saw them on my local shelf? I wouldn't think so.

    I have a library with 3000 or so paper- and hard-backs in it. But there's a lot of books published every year in the genres I read, I'm bound to miss some. I shouldn't avoid the agents who represented the titles I missed.

    Maybe I'm reading too much into it.


    David

  15. #15
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    You're reading too much into it.

  16. #16
    Hagiographically Advantaged AW Moderator HapiSofi's Avatar
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    Jim, thanks for mentioning the article in Neil Gaiman's weblog. If I had to pick the single most important piece of advice from that compendium, it'd be this one:
    You can't research this subject just by getting online and looking.
    You have to stick to good sources.
    Getting an agent is a tremendously muddled subject.

  17. #17
    Preditors & Editors Requiescat In Pace DaveKuzminski's Avatar
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    Dhewco, I misunderstood what you meant. You have an equally valid point there.
    When it comes to PA, the royalty check and the reality check arrive in the same envelope.

    Remember to be kind to writers who step in PA. They really don't know how bad it smells.

    The difference between PA and WLA? None. Both have the stench of dead and dying books emanating from their doorways.


  18. #18
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    If, for example, Leigh Feldman at DV&F, told you that she'd sold Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier and Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, but you'd never heard of either book ... those would still count as "books you'd heard of" because, well, you should have heard of them.

  19. #19
    Hagiographically Advantaged AW Moderator HapiSofi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
    If, for example, Leigh Feldman at DV&F, told you that she'd sold Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier and Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, but you'd never heard of either book ... those would still count as "books you'd heard of" because, well, you should have heard of them.
    Just so. If you didn't hear of them, someone in your office or your mom's bridge club has. Kirkus and the NYTimes (or Interzone and Locus) have reviewed them. In a pinch, the sales clerk in your local B&N has either heard of them or can find them on the shelf, or both.

    A book that comes out from a sufficiently large publisher is by definition a book you've heard of. Do I know the title of the latest Rosamund Pilcher novel? I do not. I nevertheless count it as a book I've heard of. And so should you.

  20. #20
    practical experience, FTW Dhewco's Avatar
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    All I was saying was, Jim phrased the point to where I could call a question.

    He didn't say I should have heard of them. He said books you have heard of. There's a difference.

    I don't know why I should have heard of the Geisha book. It combines two things I don't like...geishas and memoirs...in the title. You make it sound like I'm not intelligent for having no idea what you're talking about.

    I don't count books the way Hapi apparently does. I have heard of it, if I have heard of it. Not if I can quickly find it, or can research it, or if I know the author's name.

    If I haven't seen it on a local shelf during browsing, and if I haven't heard of it on the news when I do watch, and if my friend don't talk about it...I say I haven't heard of it.

    I apologize if I'm being too literal. I've got no idea who Pilcher is, either.

    David

  21. #21
    Preditors & Editors Requiescat In Pace DaveKuzminski's Avatar
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    Like Dhewco, I haven't heard of either of those two that were mentioned. I don't feel embarrassed, either, to admit that since there's only so much time in a day and I have my own tastes and preferences to follow. If I saw something by either already, then obviously neither made enough of an impression for me to want what they had to offer or to remember having seen them.
    When it comes to PA, the royalty check and the reality check arrive in the same envelope.

    Remember to be kind to writers who step in PA. They really don't know how bad it smells.

    The difference between PA and WLA? None. Both have the stench of dead and dying books emanating from their doorways.


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