PDA

View Full Version : When Researching Agents/Editors, How Deep Do You Go?



gothicangel
12-03-2011, 05:20 PM
Just because I'm doing this now, I began to wonder.

So, you've read Writer's Market/W&A and found an agent you really like. So then you do the obvious research: website, you know which authors they represent, books they've sold, and used B&BC on AW. So what would you do next, send off the submission? Or would you research deeper . . . search Google for interviews hoping for some insight for what the agent/editor is looking for? Scour The Bookseller for any information [i.e recent sales, financial info?] Google your targeted agent?

Personally, I go deeper. Exhaust all avenues. Does anyone else go further? Read some of the authors you are unfamiliar with etc? What if the agent seems perfect for your book, but you disliked some of his titles, would you still query?

Thoughts?

Puma
12-03-2011, 07:26 PM
I always check Preditors and Editors, even before B&BC here. I also don't think it hurts to Google to see if you can find some more insights. Puma

Jamesaritchie
12-03-2011, 07:38 PM
1. Check out her client list. Good agents represent good writers. 2. Read as many of her bestsellers as I can.

jjdebenedictis
12-03-2011, 09:41 PM
I really don't care that much; if they look like a decent fit, I query them. If I'm wrong, they'll blow me off with a form letter, and that's that.

Why would it matter whether I'm passionate about the agent's other clients' books? It only matters whether the agent is passionate about my book.

Filigree
12-04-2011, 08:06 AM
I researched deep enough to tell me if the agent was unlikely to rep my genres, if the agent and I had possible philosophical differences, if the agent had unresolved problems with other writers, and if the agent had represented a writer/book over which I had strong negative issues.
It didn't cut out as many agents as you might think, and it probably saved me some problems down the line.

Libbie
12-04-2011, 12:17 PM
I go as deep as I can. I want all the info I can find on them before I query. I always start with P&E, then Publishers Weekly to check for recent sales, then I take a long look at their list to see what I've already read. I try to target editors who already represent stuff that's similar to my work -- not necessarily in subject (i.e. if I wrote vampire fiction I wouldn't necessarily go after an agent with a lot of that on her list) but similar in tone, atmosphere, target audience, etc. I read any and all interviews I can find with them. I want to know everything I can about them before I add them to my list of agents to query, because I want to query as few agents as possible and maximize my chances of success.

Jamesaritchie
12-04-2011, 09:36 PM
I really don't care that much; if they look like a decent fit, I query them. If I'm wrong, they'll blow me off with a form letter, and that's that.

Why would it matter whether I'm passionate about the agent's other clients' books? It only matters whether the agent is passionate about my book.

It's not a matter of being passionate about other writer's books, it's a matter of fit. Just because an agent represents mystery fiction, for example, in no way means she will like the way you write mysteries.

You can save yourself a lot of time by finding agents who like mysteries written in your style. A LOT of time. This is the fastest, easiest way to tell whether an agent will be passionate about your book.

There's no way of telling whether an agent looks like a decent fit without knowing her client list, and without knowing her taste in fiction. "Hey, this agent represents mystery novels, and there isn't one bad word about her anywhere. She looks like a good fit" isn't likely to get you anywhere, unless you;re shot through with luck.

The danger is not that if you're wrong they'll blow you off, the danger is that you're wrong, but they take you on, anyway. This happens often, very often, and when it does, you're in trouble. It'll be a god while before you learn she wasn't the right agent for you, and you've probably signed a contract, and you'll likely lose a year, and probably have a book that will be incredibly hard to place with another agent.

And why go through more agent rejections that you have to? It can take years to find an agent, if you don't do the right research, and when you do find one, it's still likely she isn't right for you.

gothicangel
12-04-2011, 10:15 PM
I researched deep enough to tell me if the agent was unlikely to rep my genres, if the agent and I had possible philosophical differences, if the agent had unresolved problems with other writers, and if the agent had represented a writer/book over which I had strong negative issues.
It didn't cut out as many agents as you might think, and it probably saved me some problems down the line.



I go as deep as I can. I want all the info I can find on them before I query. I always start with P&E, then Publishers Weekly to check for recent sales, then I take a long look at their list to see what I've already read. I try to target editors who already represent stuff that's similar to my work -- not necessarily in subject (i.e. if I wrote vampire fiction I wouldn't necessarily go after an agent with a lot of that on her list) but similar in tone, atmosphere, target audience, etc. I read any and all interviews I can find with them. I want to know everything I can about them before I add them to my list of agents to query, because I want to query as few agents as possible and maximize my chances of success.

Two very good posts. Thanks. :)

I didn't even think of P&E. Luckily I checked now an the agents has a AAA rating.

Filigree
12-05-2011, 02:16 AM
Just remember: a bad agent is worse than no agent.

jjdebenedictis
12-05-2011, 05:12 AM
You can save yourself a lot of time by finding agents who like mysteries written in your style. A LOT of time. You don't save a lot of time querying. It doesn't take very long to write one personalized paragraph and paste it under your well-honed pitch.

I do spend some time ranking agents according to who is likely to be a good fit for my writing, but there's only so much second-guessing of internet minutiae that I think provides a return on investment. This just seems like another way for writers to make themselves neurotic.

Your next point, however, is a really good one:
The danger is not that if you're wrong they'll blow you off, the danger is that you're wrong, but they take you on, anyway. This happens often, very often, and when it does, you're in trouble. I absolutely agree a bad agent is worse than no agent. However, I'm of the opinion it would be things like personality and the way the agent prefers to work that would be more likely to cause conflict than a simple matter of whether they sign a lot of authors whose writing is similar to mine.

Does the agent prefer to workshop manuscripts, or does she just want the happy surprise in her mailbox once you're finished? Does the agent email you regularly with updates, or does she leave you alone until she has news? If she gets nowhere with the Big Six, will she keep submitting to smaller presses or give up on the book?

To me, this is the stuff that you have to get sorted out, and you can only do that over the phone with the agent. That means you can only do it after you've been offered representation--and you have to be willing to say no to that offer.

So for querying, I just don't worry too much about stalking the agent in-depth. To me, all you can be sure of is they are (currently) excited about the book if they offer you representation.

Jen Klein
12-05-2011, 06:13 AM
This is not the norm (and I am so grateful for the way it worked out for me), but I had offers from several agents and went to NYC for meetings with them. First, I did TONS of online research. I was obsessed. Interviews, websites, Publishers Marketplace, the whole thing. By the time I got there, I knew a lot about their clients and agencies and histories.

For me, however, nothing mattered as much as meeting in person. Almost without exception, they were all amazing, wonderful people. Before I arrived, they were names on a screen. After that week in NY, they were real, live people with passion for me and my work. Choosing was one of the hardest decisions of my life. I felt overwhelmed and excited and, oddly, GUILTY about having to pick between them.

But at the end of the day, I just fell in love with my now-agent, Lisa. I liked the way she talked about my work and my career path. I liked her honesty and her background. I liked her plans. And, hey, it didn't hurt that we met over wine.

So I wish you luck on your queries, and also with your agent research, but in my experience, nothing really matches that one-on-one connection.