Thursday, March 31, 2011

Agent Research

by Jemi Fraser

You’ve written your draft. You’ve rewritten it ... several times. You’ve edited, revised, tweaked, slashed & burned those adverbs, then polished your story so it gleams. You’ve read Calista’s Ready to Query post & Mindy’s BBC’s Query Tips. Now you’re ready to send out your query to those agents lucky enough to receive it. Right?


Willy-nilly querying doesn’t work. Agents are specialists. They each represent genres they feel passionately about. Do you want someone representing you who feels ‘meh’ about your genre? Do you want to annoy an agent by sending him or her a genre they don’t represent? Heck no!

Agent research is a necessary part of the querying process. Researching is time-consuming, but if you don’t do it, you’re wasting a lot of your time—and a lot of agents’ time as well. I use three sites in particular to help me research agents. There are more out there, but these are three I use the most.

Agent Query. AQ is the first site I stumbled upon when the thought of attempting to publish my work crossed my mind. It’s an awesome site. AQ has a searchable database of current agent information. Once you’ve clicked on the link, you’ll see a couple of pull down menus on the left. You can choose fiction or nonfiction then a whole slew of genres. Choose your genre and you’ll get a list of all the agents who represent it, along with more specifics about them & links to their sites. You can narrow the search by clicking on Full Search and selecting from the new choices. This is really helpful when looking for agents who represent more than one genre.

Query Tracker. QT has another searchable database of agents. A free membership will give you access to the database and will help you track your research. Once you’ve logged in, use the tool bar and hold your mouse over the Agents tab—click on Search Agents. Like AQ, you can narrow your choices by genre and other items. We’ll get into more details about more options at QT in another post!

Both AQ & QT will lead you straight to the agents’ websites and blogs (if they have them). These are invaluable resources—we’ll tackle this topic with more depth later on.

Preditors and Editors. AQ & QT are fabulous for checking the agents they list. If the agent is listed there, you know the person is legit. There are far too many scammers out there. The P&E website is another check. This site shows you if the name (agent, agency, publisher) you search is legit or not. Click on Agents & Attorneys or Book Publishers, then click on the first letter in the name (it’s an alphabetical listing). A $ indicates actual sales listed for the person or company. Warnings are usually written in red.

Obviously, researching agents and deciding which ones to query is a huge topic. Hopefully this will give you a good place to start. In other posts we’ll cover agent bios, websites, Publisher’s Marketplace and more!

Have you used any of these sites? Any others to suggest?

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