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Avoid the 'cleverly' named

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Sassenach

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After months of reading this section, I've developed Sassenach's Law: the more unusual the name, the less [established/dependable/professional] the publisher/agency is.
 

Julie Worth

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I’m not so sure.


So as not to start an argument as to what constitutes “unusual”, let’s say anything they invented is unusual, i.e., it's not the agent’s name.


Looking at just the A and B listings at P&E, it seems to make little difference—57% of the recommended used something other than the agent’s name, compared to 44% of the not recommended.


A better measure might be to look for the word “Literary”—just 15% of the recommended used the word, compared to 58% of the not recommended, and roughly 25% for everyone else. (You may call this Julie’s Rule.)



Listed as Recommended by P&E (A-B only)

Albert Zuckerman (Writer's House, Inc)
Amy Rennert Agency
Artists and Artisans Inc.
Big Apple Tuttle-Mori Agency Inc.:
Bob Diforio (D4EO Literary Partners LLC)
Bukowski Agency, The
Burnes & Clegg, Inc

Non agent name (i.e., unusual): 57%
Contains the word “Literary”: 15%



Listed as Not Recommended by P&E (A-B only)

A.E.I.
Aaland Agency
Aardvark Literary Agency
Abacus Group Literary Agency
Abbott-Peterson Literary Agency
About Words Agency
Adele Leone (Monaco, Leone & Trotta)
Adrian Streather
Alex Kamaroff Associates
Alexander Hamilton Literary Agency
Alexandra Nye, Writers and Agents
Alice Hilton Literary Agency
All-In-One Literary Agency
Allred and Allred
Amaranth Literary Agency
Amber Literary Agency
American Literary Agency
American Literary Agents of Washington, Inc.
Antoinette Brown Literary Agency
Arcadia Agency
Arthur Fleming, Literary Agent
Ashcroft Associates
Austin Wahl Agency
Author Author Literary Agency
Author's Adventure Assistance Literary Agency
Author's Agency, The
AUTHOR'S MARKETING SERVICES LTD
Authorlink
Authors' Clearing House
Authors' Services Literary Agency
Authur Fleming Agency
Avatar Literary Agency
B A Literary Agency
B. Bailey Literary Agency
B.K. Nelson, Inc
Barbara Bauer Literary Agency
Barbara J. Zitwer Literary Agency
Barbara's (Cocores) Literary Agency
Bawn Publishers and Literary Agents
Benedict & Associates
Beverly Hills Literary Consulting
Bonnie R. Crown International Literature & Arts
BookAgency, Inc
Bookmark Literary Agency
BookPotato
Books Unlimited Literary Agency
Books-to-Screen Management
Brenda Bailey Literary Agency
Brinke Literary Agency, The
Brock Gannon Literary Agency
Brontë Literary Agency
Brown & Knight Literary Agents

Non agent name (i.e., unusual): 44%
Contains the word “Literary”: 58%
 
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Inkblot

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So I guess both your theories would rule out Upstart Crow Literary, right?

Sorry, but there are no shortcuts to finding the right agent -- neither of these theories works for me.
 

mscelina

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*shrug* and Jabberwocky too, which would be silly AND Donald Maass as well, which would be suicidally stupid.

Best way to eliminate agencies is to research them thoroughly on AW or P&E or Writer Beware BEFORE you query them. Works like a charm. Forget about this name silliness and do your homework first. It'll work a lot better. Trust me.
 

DreamWeaver

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I understand Sassenach's basic point, though--it's like avoiding those companies in the Yellow Pages that go way overboard to start their name in the As so they'll be first. AA-Aardvark's Plumbing, A Absolutely AAA Best Electrician, A Achieving Award Lawn Service. I know there are some agency names that put up my radar right away--particularly those that have Author in them. There are also some that have put my radar up that turn out to be perfectly respectable or even highly reputable. So, keeping an open mind and doing research does seem the best course.
 
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honeysock

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Someone on the Sterling Lord agency thread ridiculed the use of the word "literistic" for the same reason, Sassenach. That agency was founded almost 60 years ago, and some of their clients are/were literary legends. They're so sought after, most of their agents don't even accept queries from nobodies (like me).
 

Shadow_Ferret

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*shrug* and Jabberwocky too, which would be silly AND Donald Maass as well, which would be suicidally stupid.

Best way to eliminate agencies is to research them thoroughly on AW or P&E or Writer Beware BEFORE you query them. Works like a charm. Forget about this name silliness and do your homework first. It'll work a lot better. Trust me.

I'd say its the ONLY way.

Eliminating agencies because you think the name is weird is just shooting yourself in the foot.
 

BenPanced

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If people ignored "funny names" in other areas of life, they'd stop buying Froot Loops, Sham-WOW, Snuggies, Huggies...shall I continue?
 

DreamWeaver

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If people ignored "funny names" in other areas of life, they'd stop buying Froot Loops, Sham-WOW, Snuggies, Huggies
Names are aimed at a certain audience/market. I don't know about anyone else, but I wouldn't find any of these to be confidence-inspiring names in a literary agency, no matter how effective they might be for their target demographic.
 

rebobinar

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I think the original poster wasn't making a hard and fast rule to shortcut agent research, just an observation. And I agree that often the wacky names are suspect. I know I always *like* the wacky names and am then disappointed when I research them. Of course there are notable exceptions.
 

AussieBilly

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Way back in 2005 Sassenach suggested something called Sassenach's Law. It had to do with funny names. Well, the rest of the replies shot holes in that idea but even so I have a corollary for the Law. I would add that any agency with a "cutesy" website, extra pages to click through to open, or has a photo of a dog on the staff page should be considered questionable. (If I had a photo of one of my chickens I'd put it right here)
Oh, and the color purple. All this came to me when I rec'd a note from Author's Clearing House Literary Agency saying they'd be glad to review my manuscript. Betty Wilson, the agency's editor, said "Your writing skills appear decent and the story sounds intriguing..." well, I swear. Writing skills decent? C'mon.
I guess I should have known better when I saw her agency's fancy purple website. Or maybe I should have done a better job of researching the agency. I suppose Ms Wilson won't hold her breath, waiting for me to send my ms in hard copy.
 

Drachen Jager

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Betty Wilson, the agency's editor, said "Your writing skills appear decent and the story sounds intriguing..." well, I swear. Writing skills decent? C'mon.

Yeah, you're right. Anybody who thinks you are a good writer can't be a good agent. :evil

Seriously though, as was said before, you just have to do your homework.
 

kaitie

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Well, if we rule out dogs that takes out Nelson Literary. They have enough bestsellers on the list (at one time) to make that seem like a bad idea.
 

Lovely Decadence

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Well, if we rule out dogs that takes out Nelson Literary. They have enough bestsellers on the list (at one time) to make that seem like a bad idea.
I was about to mention Ms. Nelson's cute terrier Chutney. It'd make my day to be repped by someone as reputable as her, so dogs as staff members are not a deal breaker for me.
 

shaldna

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If people ignored "funny names" in other areas of life, they'd stop buying Froot Loops, Sham-WOW, Snuggies, Huggies...shall I continue?

If I ignored funny names then I wouldn't have married my husband.

I wouldn't have signed with my latest publisher.

I wouldn't have chosen the University I did.

I wouldn't buy half the shoes that I do.
 

areteus

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It apparently works for law firms, at least in the UK. The better law firms are usually the ones that have 'names of partners in order of seniority' rather than a 'CrappyLawyers4U' type tag (this is based on the opinions of those I know who deal with law firms on a daily basis - insurance claims experts) so I can see the logic to it. But I can see how it may not work for agents...

However, if you change the definition of a 'silly name' to something that includes a really bad pun or, as stated above, seems designed to get you in to a particular listing, then that indicates something about the way the person thinks and you may not like the way that person thinks based on the name...

Company names give us our first impressions of an organisation. That is what they are for. To my mind, a persons name gives an air of respectability and personal service (i.e. you get the impression that you will be dealing personally with the person whose firm it is) regardless of the truth of the matter. 'StupidMoronAgentsRUs' not only implies an idiot running the place but also a larger firm that deals with all their clients via some vast workshop style call centre in some foreign country.

Both companies may well have the same working practises (they may both work personally with the clients or they may both have the call centre) however we as potential clients make our own impressions based on the name.
 

taylormillgirl

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Am I the only one who--for one brief second--thought the OP was referring to Claire from Outlander?
 

Winterturn

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It apparently works for law firms, at least in the UK. The better law firms are usually the ones that have 'names of partners in order of seniority'

There is a funeral home here in West London called Wake and Paine. Which I believe is the name of the partners.
 

kidcharlemagne

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There is a funeral home here in West London called Wake and Paine. Which I believe is the name of the partners.

In the 70s they had a UK TV show called 'That's Life' and they had a section on funny names. The one I remember is the name of a lawyer called 'Robin Bastard' :D
 

djf881

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You can't judge literary agents by their websites. The only people who look at literary agents' websites are authors seeking representation. Most agents are indifferent at best to the people who send them queries, and they all get plenty of unsolicited submissions without actively marketing to aspiring authors. If you're not impressed by their website, that just might be because they're too important to care about trying to impress people like you.

The best way to figure out if an agent is reputable is to find out what they have sold and who they represent.
 

Elizabeth George's book Write Away