PDA

View Full Version : How does one find a reputable agent?



Wood Devil
07-04-2005, 09:04 PM
Hello! I am new to the board, as well as writing. I have, however, already finished my first novel, and am 50,000 pages into my second.

The reason I'm writing is in hopes that someone can provide me with information on finding a reputable agent that's into the horror genre, respectable horror, nothing outlandish and sickening--more along the like of King and Koontz.

Already having gone through the starving artist thing, and only recently have delved in to the nippy waters of writing, I'd rather find someone willing to take a chance on a bum and not empty his pockets before anything gets rolling.

What advice can you give me? Do agents read manuscripts at no charge to determine if they might be interested, or is it always a pay as you go thing?

Cathy C
07-04-2005, 09:27 PM
Do agents read manuscripts at no charge to determine if they might be interested, or is it always a pay as you go thing?

Yes, good agents read at no charge. It shouldn't be a "pay as you go thing" EVER! That's the first golden rule: Gold flows TO the author, not away FROM the author.

Next, there's an excellent organization of agents that polices its own members to make sure that they play fair. Here are two links to the Association of Artists' Representatives ("AAR" -- formerly known as the Association of Authors' Representatives. They've recently started to accept song and script agents.)

http://www.aar-online.org/mc/directory/viewsimplesearch.do?orgId=aar

Enter the term "horror" in the search box and click Search. There are about a half-dozen agent members to query to begin with. These are all well-known literary agents with good connections to major publishers.

Now, once you have an interested agent, you should interview him/her. A good agent EXPECTS to be interviewed about their qualifications to sell your book.

The second golden rule: Seek out the BEST agents first. You can work your way DOWN the list. Going UP is much harder.

The third golden rule: YOU are hiring the AGENT as much as the agent is accepting your book. It's a meeting of equals, not a master/servant relationship where you're the servant.

Click on this link to get to the FAQ page of AAR for a list of questions to ask a prospective agent:

http://www.aar-online.org/mc/page.do?sitePageId=10336

If you get rejections from the ones at AAR, try Writer's Market, which is a publication of Writer's Digest magazine. It's available in print at pretty much any bookstore, or also available on-line for a little higher price.

Good luck!

(There are golden rules about publishers too, but they're pretty much the same. THEY pay YOU, pick the BEST ones first, and ASK questions.)

aadams73
07-04-2005, 09:53 PM
Cathy C has given you some excellent advice. You may also consider a membership to publishersmarketplace.com. For just a few dollars a month you are able to search and see who represents which writers. Just FYI, Mr. Koontz is represented by Robert Gottleib at Trident Media Group.

Andrew Zack
07-05-2005, 05:42 AM
Cathy C has given you some excellent advice. You may also consider a membership to publishersmarketplace.com. For just a few dollars a month you are able to search and see who represents which writers. Just FYI, Mr. Koontz is represented by Robert Gottleib at Trident Media Group.While Cathy C. does provide some good advice, I'd like to offer a bit more. Not all good agents have chosen to become members of the AAR. And not all members of the AAR may be good agents, or good for you. Membership there is not a validation of any kind.

You are no more "hiring" the agent than the agent is "hiring" you. It's a partnership. I've written extensively about this in my entry in Jeff Herman's book:


The agent-author relationship is a business partnership. Agents have their role and authors have their role. Neither is an employee of the other. Interestingly enough, I never hear about agents or authors hiring each other, but I hear about them firing one another all the time. Agents, obviously, are businesspeople. Authors need to be businesspeople, too. Authors should do their best to be as informed as possible about the nature of the publishing business. They should subscribe to Publishers Weekly or at least read it in the library every week. They should talk to their local independent bookseller (and if they really want to learn a few things, they should get a part-time job working in a bookstore). My best client is an educated client. I find that the hardest thing about the agent-author relationship is communication. E-mail has become an important mode of communication for me. Itís quick and easy and almost instantaneous as a form of communication. Authors should be able to ask their agents all the questions they want, and if an authorís agent disagrees with that, itís time to find another agent. But authors also need to recognize that every minute spent on the phone with them is a minute that could be spent selling their projects. As long as authors understand the job they have and the job agents have in the author-agent relationship, the business partnership will flourish and be profitable.

Best,
Andy

Andrew Jameson
07-05-2005, 03:37 PM
One way of finding potential agents is to spend some time in the book store. Find authors whose work you enjoy and you think is similar to your own. Then read the dedication page in the front. Many authors will thank their agent in the dedication. Now you've got a list of names, each with, presumably, at least one happy client, to work from. With the names, you can hunt up addresses and do some additional research on their track record, should you so desire.

For further information (including additional tips, links, and research advice, and tips on avoiding scams) check out the agent links in this stickied thread: On queries and Agents: Information Sources (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=13531).

Euan H.
07-06-2005, 10:04 AM
I would start here:

http://www.agentquery.com/agentquery/default.aspx

And check those agents that interest you here:

http://www.anotherealm.com/prededitors/

aruna
07-06-2005, 10:25 AM
One way of finding potential agents is to spend some time in the book store. Find authors whose work you enjoy and you think is similar to your own. Then read the dedication page in the front. Many authors will thank their agent in the dedication. Now you've got a list of names, each with, presumably, at least one happy client, to work from. With the names, you can hunt up addresses and do some additional research on their track record, should you so desire.



What I do is to type in the author's name, plus "literary agent" or just "agent" in the search engine. I've come uip with many that way.

Andrew Zack
07-06-2005, 05:32 PM
I would start here:

http://www.agentquery.com/agentquery/default.aspx

And check those agents that interest you here:

http://www.anotherealm.com/prededitors/I have to say that I'm not the biggest fan of either of these sites. I learned that my information was posted on AgentQuery from an author. The folks who host the site had never contacted me, had never verified any of the information with me. I finally reviewed my own listing and sent them a fax updating it/correcting it. They did all that promptly, but it does make me worry about information they post about other agents.

Additionally, I am really not a fan of prededitors. Again, I found that the host there was listing my firm as "not recommended" which shocked me. He'd never contacted me, never asked a question, never verified any information wtih me. After a series of emails, I found that he disagreed with an OPTIONAL service that I offer authors and for that reason was listing me negatively. And I simply feel that's wrong. No website should be judge, jury and executioner of an individual agent.

I do feel that authors should do their due diligence about agents, but I think you need to ask yourself carefully what criteria are being used and also what efforts are being made to verify information. Let facts be your guide, not gossip.

Thanks.

Best,
Andy

aruna
07-06-2005, 09:01 PM
I would start here:

http://www.agentquery.com/agentquery/default.aspx

And check those agents that interest you here:

http://www.anotherealm.com/prededitors/

Agentquery says on its front page that its the internet's largest and most current database of agents.

This is simply not true; since it does not list British agents (I tried several) it should call itself the largest American database.

Jamesaritchie
07-07-2005, 02:07 AM
I'll disagree with AZ on one thing. I darned sure am hiring the agent. I'm hiring her to represent me in my dealings with publishers. We are not partners in any sense of the word. When it comes to what I write, I'm the boss. I give the agent permission to sell my work, but she always, without exception, comes to me to okay any deal before it's made. She can make recommendations, but if I say no, then it's no.

When an agent starts think he or she is your partner, fire that agent and find another.

It's true there are some good agents who aren't AAR, and some bad ones who are, but I would never, ever recommend an agent who isn't AAR unless they can show compelling reasons why they aren't. Most excuses I've heard are pretty lame.

The most important things about any agent are What Has She Sold, and Who Does She Represent.

If an agent isn't consistently selling books to major publishers, and does not represent at least a couple of writers with names you recognize, avoid that agent.

The only exception to this rule is when you find a new agent who previously worked at a larger agency and had these qualifications while there, or a new agent who was previously an acquisitions editor at a decent sized publishing company.

Never give an agent a dime that doesn't comes out of sales.

And you are hiring the agent. This is a business, and there's absolutely no difference between hiring an agent to represent you with publishers, and hiring a lawyer to represent you in court, or with contracts.

Andrew Zack
07-07-2005, 03:58 AM
Dear Mr. Ritchie:

I have to say, I'm taken aback by the tone of your post, but you are certainly entitled to your opinion. We can agree to disagree. But if you aren't paying your agent a salary or hourly fee, I'm not sure how you are "hiring" him or her. You pay your lawyer an hourly fee, after all, but not your agent.

Best,
Andy

Euan H.
07-07-2005, 05:23 AM
I learned that my information was posted on AgentQuery from an author. The folks who host the site had never contacted me, had never verified any of the information with me. I finally reviewed my own listing and sent them a fax updating it/correcting it. They did all that promptly, but it does make me worry about information they post about other agents.

Thanks for that. I will be more careful with them in future.


Additionally, I am really not a fan of prededitors. Again, I found that the host there was listing my firm as "not recommended" ...

I was actually thinking of adding something at the bottom of my first post, which I see now I should have. So, retroactively:

Take anything any web-site tells you with a pinch of salt (including this one, of course).

Also, let me say something here for anyone who might be wondering about Andy Zack's legimateness because of the 'not recommended' on P&E. James Ritchie is right--looking at track record is the best way to determine if an agent is legit or not* and Andy's track record speaks for itself. I am friends with one of his clients, and she speaks very highly of him.

*Of course, it's not the best way to find an agent, but that's another story.

Like James said, when you've found an agent, then you should check:

What She Has Sold, and Who She Represents.

Anyway, my 2c.

GPatten
07-07-2005, 11:28 AM
This is a business, and there's absolutely no difference between hiring an agent to represent you with publishers, and hiring a lawyer to represent you in court, or with contracts.

:roll:

Ah, Yep. They both can chit can ya and throw ya out on your ear. I've seen it happen and heard of it happening, too many times. No one need to deal with an arrogant nut.

Wood Devil
07-07-2005, 09:00 PM
Thanks for the replies, guys. :Thumbs:

macandal
09-23-2005, 07:57 PM
The second golden rule: Seek out the BEST agents first. You can work your way DOWN the list. Going UP is much harder. Cathy (or anyone else), how does one go about determining who the top agents are. This may be an easy question but I just don't how to do it. Thanks.

aruna
09-23-2005, 09:16 PM
Cathy (or anyone else), how does one go about determining who the top agents are. This may be an easy question but I just don't how to do it. Thanks.

Top agents have succesful authors on their lists; authors you have heard of. They negotiate good contracts for them. For instance, here in the UK if you are a writer you will hear certain agents' names over and over again: Carole Blake, Ali Gunn, Johhnie Geller, Darley Anderson, Clare Alexander, Andrew Wylie. If you read the trade magazines, you'll read for example that "Ali Gunn negotiated the 6-figure deal for xxx". Or they are Booker Prize winners. Whatever: they are known.
Doesn't automatically mean, however, that these agents are right for YOU. I personally have to actually like my agent; I have to know that he/she loves my work. Then it's kind of like a marriage!

The thing is, as an author it's really, really hard to know what they are like and what they are looking for and if they'll like your kind of work. You need to ask around. Read interviews with them. If you like the sound of an agent, google him/her and see if any interviews come up; then check out the agency he/she works for. You are lucky in the US; agents seem to be far more forthcoming about who they are and what they like that in the UK. I have been reduced to simply choosing names at random, working my way down lists, etc. I've started with agencies that are well known, such as AP Watt and Curtis Brown, chosen names from their lists and hoping that serendipity plays her part.
I've also looked at their client lists and see if their authors are ones I like, or who write anything like I do.