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Welcome to the AQ Connect Community Library -- reference articles about the publishing industry for and by its AQ Connect members.
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AAR Agent Membership

The Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR) was formed in 1991 through the merger of the Society of Authors' Representatives (founded in 1928) and the Independent Literary Agents Association (founded in 1977). To qualify for membership in the AAR, an agent must meet professional standards specified in AAR's bylaws and agree to subscribe to its Canon of Ethics. However, AAR cannot regulate the commissions, fees, services, or other competitive business practices of its members.

Their AAR website and searchable agent member database has recently been updated. Based on our current intelligence, it seems like AAR has stepped up to the plate and made an effort to keep their database regularly maintained and accurate. In our opinion, AAR membership is not a black & white litmus test for good versus bad. It simply offers one source for verifying potential credibility.

Back in the stone ages (2005-ish) before the explosion of agent blogs and Twitter and Facebook, and heck, even before AQ...

Back then, when it was still acceptable for agencies not to have websites and most agents balked at the idea of accepting queries via email, writers seeking an agent were advised by "those in the know" to only query agents who were AAR members.

AAR membership was supposedly some sort of prima donna five-star stamp of approval -- AAR agents were supposedly the best agents in the town; they supposedly were the most ethical; most honest; worked the hardest for their clients, and were 100% legit.

Well, a lot has changed since then. A LOT. AAR membership still has relevance -- sort of...

But scoring an AAR agent certainly isn't the Holy Grail it used to be. Especially now that legit agents don't absolutely HAVE to be based in New York City -- thanks to email and the internet.

That said, it's important to note that AAR's agent member database is filled with a ton of very senior, very established, very veteran, and some might even say... very old-school agents. There are a few younger, hungrier ones (mainly at the major agencies) sprinkled in, but for the most part, it's an old-boys club.

For this reason, we suggest to treat it like a complimentary research guide. Also, the beauty of the AAR database is that the agents are responsible for updating their own AAR profiles. So for many of these veteran agents who still don't have websites... (yeah, there are top-dog agencies who are THAT top-dog that they don't need a website) the AAR database is likely one of the only places they're maintaining a semi-current online presence.