Even If She Doesn’t Want To Be Found
You cringe every time you see some newbie bop onto a forum and say, “I’m thinking of becoming a writer. Where can I find a cheap agent who handles gonzo confessions and flash fiction?”
And maybe refrain from telling them they could have used Google quicker than typing into the forum.
But agent search is a legitimate question and like many such things it’s not secret or esoteric, but takes a bit of work to scour around and find good resources. So once again I do all the work around here while you chill in your BarfaLounger eating cheetos and joysticking.
ONE THING — These aren’t exactly fragile resources but every nitwit that clogs them up with frivolous queries is just strengthening the industry barricades that make it harder for everybody to land on a desk. Before you approach agents have a solid query letter and a handle on the etiquette for submitting it. Have something ready to show and a 50 page sample (adaptable to what they ask for on their website) with no formatting so you can paste it into your email. Please?
COMMON SENSE, LOW TECH
This is the easiest, most “duh” way to search for agents. But it also can be the most effective. Find out who represents the writers whose work is most like yours or appeals to your target audience. This also allows your query to say, I am approaching you for representation of my new novel, “The Man Who Killed Agents Who Rejected Him”, because of your association with Charles Manson, whose work appeals to my target audience.
Instead of, I found your name on some database recommended in some knucklehead’s blog.
Search Google intelligently to try to find the agent who represented the book or author. Also, cruise those books in the bookstore or library. Often writers, especially in their first book, will have dedications to their wonderful agents in front or back of the book.
AGENT DATA BASES
(Click red titles for links)’
This is my favorite, and it’s a beautiful searchable site with a very comprehensive coverage of agents. States what their memberships and status is. Mostly full, solid profiles on the agents and agencies. Search by category of book and keyword.’
This sort of “slices the agent pool different”. And is thus an excellent adjunct to Agent Query.
This database is HUGE. Which is part of the problem: it’s so vast it dredges dregs and you have to sort it out. But it’s got a LOT of names in it.
The Association of Authors’ Representatives is as official as it sounds. Not all agents (including some very good ones) are members, but it should be in your top 3 sites to search and is a good checkup to see if people are really members. Anybody who claims to be but isn’t should get your quick dismissal.
A specialized list for kids’ books.
There are many such special lists. Google is ever a friend to those of narrow interests.
WRITERS FREE REFERENCE
This guy is a resource/gadfly/crackup/godsend/nuisance of the first water. It’s a howl to read his approach to the agent market, but there’s a lot of good info here. Call it “Gonzo dBasing”
CHECK THEM OUT’ (Fer Crissakes)
It’s just astounding how many forum questions run like, “Has anybody heard of WritersLitAgency? I signed a life contract with them in blood but now they’re demanding money and my children and I’m wondering if….”
CHECK THEM OUT–on forums BEFORE THE FACT and on these sites.
Has a whole thread on agents to beware that is often more up to date than the classic checkup sites, has more in-depth reporting form the inflicted. Sign up for the newsletter and get a free list of agents.’
EDITORS AND PREDITORS
This is the “most referred” to watchdog site, and it’s very cool. But also very incomplete and they have to walk a pretty tight rope. Click on “Warnings”.’
SFWA’s WRITER BEWARE
These guys don’t dance. You have to know that in contemporary litigation-happy America anything they say had better be bulletproof or they’ll have platoons of winged monkeys with briefcases all over them like a cheap suit. So you can take this stuff to the bank. Unfortunately that also makes it impossible to cover every sleazebag in the sewer. But check here first. The last “Did I screw up?” newbie post I saw was asking about an agency that’s on their TOP TWENTY THUMBS DOWN list.
GET IT TOGETHER FIRST
This is beyond the scope of this post, but DO check yourself BEFORE you wreck yourself. Many of the sites above, and the agency sites (which are more important to you, needless to say) have guidelines for querying them.
A POSITIVE ROLE MODEL
This little guide to writing agent queries has been praised by many from both sides of the fence.
Download a free, illustrated, high quality pdf document of this post with all links and resources, right here.