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RunWrite
11-27-2011, 04:26 AM
So I started my agent search with Herman's but trying to do as much research as possible on individual agents before I send a query. I've been surprised to find agents in Herman's who have close to no web presence. They don't have websites, they don't appear on query tracker and there aren't threads here about them. All I get for them are general listings. Should I read anything into this? If you don't appear on the internet, do you exist?

Bubastes
11-27-2011, 04:51 AM
Some of the biggest of the big shot agents don't have much of a web presence.

EMaree
11-27-2011, 05:23 AM
A lot of UK agents have next to no web presence - I can think of a few that Tweet, but only one that blogs and she's part of a US/UK team (the Greenhouse Literary ladies). The same applies for a lot of big-name agents across the world.

If you're ever unsure about whether an agent is legit, you can check Writer Beware, Preditors & Editors, Publisher's Marketplace (this is especially good for checking up on the books US agents have sold and the authors they represent, not much use for international agents), these forums, Querytracker and your local library for a book with a directory of agents -- in the UK these can be found in The Writer's & Artist's Yearbook, but I'm not sure what the US equivalent of this is, sorry.

rainsmom
11-27-2011, 05:52 AM
I wouldn't read anything at all into it. Established agents have no need for a Web presence. Their reputation gets them clients (if their lists aren't already full) and their contacts lead to sales.

Tromboli
11-27-2011, 06:18 AM
I would have answered differently than has been posted above... but I wouldn't know a lot about this.

I would suspect that if an agency (American, if were talking international I can under stand that things would be different) has a good reputation they would be talked about in some fashion on the web.

I don't know what Herman's is but I've heard that a lot of agent listings aren't strictly filled with reliable agencies. Anyone with a business they call a literary agency can get a listing if they're willing to pay. There is no telling if they have any experience in the industry. I could be wrong about this but that was my impression.

I'm sure there are agents that are good and worth sending work to that don't have any web presence at all. Having no web presence doesn't automatically mean they are not a great agency. It's just I'd be worried if I couldn't find more information to make sure they were on the up-and-up. I'd want to see them somewhere, or at least hear from someone who has worked with them, see some evidence of sales before I trusted them-- but that's just me.

RunWrite
11-27-2011, 07:37 AM
I think Tromboli is making sense here, though as I said, I'm new so I'm still learning. I get that a well established agent doesn't need to have a website. If they don't want queries it could just get in the way. But no entry on Querytacker? And no other coverage, like interviews or whatever? Also, no thread here on AW.

Jeff Herman's guide is, I believe, totally above boards. I don't think anyone could just pay to get an entry.

Tromboli
11-27-2011, 08:02 AM
Not all agents will be on Querytracker because not all agents accept queries. There are reasons for agencies not to be on sites like that-- its just only seeing an agency on one site doesn't do much to assure me they are a trustworthy, reliable, agency.

They could still be a great agency and be NO where on the web. But If I don't see evidence of them being a good agency somewhere there is no way for me to know and therefore I wouldn't trust it.

IceCreamEmpress
11-27-2011, 10:13 PM
Jeff Herman's guide is not at all a pay-to-play guide, but he and his staff also don't do a comprehensive vetting of each entry (nor does he claim that they do so).

The thing is this: why not start with the agents you know to be solid and legitimate, with an established track record of sales in the particular market(s) you think would be right for your book?

MandyHubbard
11-28-2011, 08:29 PM
II don't know what Herman's is but I've heard that a lot of agent listings aren't strictly filled with reliable agencies. Anyone with a business they call a literary agency can get a listing if they're willing to pay.

I'm actually not aware of any listings which require payment, and I'm in Herman's guide, as well as querytracker and agentquery.

Publisher's Marketplace does require a subscription but that's for the whole site, and even writers pay that to see deals and such.

FWIW, our agency (D43O) did not have a big web presence when I joined. Bob had run the agency for 23 years, had nealry 1,000 sales to every major publisher (he topped 1,000 in the last year), and did not have a website. He had a single page at Publisher's Marketplace.

But every time I talked to him, he'd just finished golfing with a vice president at one publisher and an editorial director from another. He has serious connections. He's just beenin the business so long, he really didn't need a web presence.

That said, we launched our website a couple of months ago. D43O has four newer/"young" agents who ARE building lists and actively searching through the query pile, so we wanted that presence.

But Bob does just fine without it. :-)

IceCreamEmpress
11-29-2011, 12:53 AM
FWIW, our agency (D43O) did not have a big web presence when I joined. Bob had run the agency for 23 years [....]He's just been in the business so long, he really didn't need a web presence.

This is a good point; folks who have been in the business for decades and have an established client list may not have invested time and energy in building their own websites, etc.

But there are certainly lots of third-party discussions of many of these well-established agencies and agents out there, even when they don't have a strong individual web presence as a business. Mr. Diforio is a fine example of someone who has had individuals and media outlets talking about him and his agency on the web for years, even without his having built his own presence until recently.

I would be more concerned about the folks who, in addition to not having their own websites, also don't have threads here or at QueryTracker or in other writers' forums, mentions on their authors' blogs, etc. Being too busy with in-person agent work to build a website is one thing; flying completely under everyone's radar is qute another.

Tromboli
11-29-2011, 08:49 PM
"I don't recommend Writer's Market,which contains a lot of marginal and amateur agents," FromVictoria Strauss.

This is more of less what I was talking about (I read something in passing a while back that implied the same thing, only it mentioned something about paid ads-- and as I said it was my impression)

She also says "Unfortunately, there's not a market guide in existence that doesn't contain at least some questionable agents" and goes on to explain the steps you should take to double check agents you find during your search. "I suggest you use more than one guide,because all have a different mix of information (and some can be out of date)." (this answers the question right here. You should be able to find them somewhere else too)

Seems like a pretty good article for the current topic
http://www.right-writing.com/published-safest.html

She recommends you get a roster of the AAR and put a question mark next to all agents who aren't on it and do some extra searches. I don't personally put so much stock in the AAR, I have found too many agents not a member that are very reputable, awesome agents (Victoria does admit there are reputable agents who choose not to join). But I'm sure all her advice is still very useful.

MandyHubbard
11-29-2011, 09:46 PM
But there are certainly lots of third-party discussions of many of these well-established agencies and agents out there, even when they don't have a strong individual web presence as a business.

I would be more concerned about the folks who, in addition to not having their own websites, also don't have threads here or at QueryTracker or in other writers' forums, mentions on their authors' blogs, etc.

You're 100% right in this-- a big distinction. I was thinking of agents themselves who didn't have a web presence, and not agents for whom you could not find information online. With the way google and such works, you can usually get hits for books with their name in the ackwnoledgements! And if they're making sales and posting on PM, that's available too. Not to mention conferences will put their information up if they've given a talk, an agency's authors would probably put their contact information in their webpage (or their agent's name on their twitter bio), etc, etc.

So I guess if I found a random agent I'd neve heard of in a market book, and could not find any information whatsoever online, I'd skip them.