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What is your method for choosing an agent?

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#1 Thimblerig


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Posted 14 January 2014 - 08:04 PM

I've been querying now for a few days, and wonder how others choose who to query?  Obviously, if you are writing a MG book and the agent doesn't mention MG books in their bios, you wouldn't choose them.  But, what if they have three or four looking for the same general things?  What do you do?  Do you look at the picture to see which one looks the nicest?  Do you go with the one who has a name that you like?  Do you pick one at random and go for it?


Looking for a method to the madness.



#2 Licentia


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Posted 14 January 2014 - 08:30 PM

There are other factors you'll probably want to consider. One thing you haven't mentioned at all is whether the agent in question has actually sold any books in your genre, or any books at all. Most agencies have both newer agents and older agents. There are benefits with both a newer and a more experienced agent (one might be looking for more clients, while the other might have more publishing contacts), so you'll need to consider that. You can also find most agents on twitter, or on their blogs. If two agents seem otherwise equal, you can check them out a bit further and see which one you feel more likely to connect with. 

#3 SC_Author


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Posted 20 January 2014 - 02:13 AM

And almost always, you'll have a phone call with the agent before any offer of representation. These calls can last a long time, so ask all the questions you want and scope them out! From there, you can compare any agents that offer you representation. Many times, I've heard, it's the phone call's experience that leads to the ultimate decision.

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#4 ami


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Posted 22 January 2014 - 09:46 AM

You don't need to just choose one or a few. That's the best thing about an agent search. If they are looking for what you want, you connect with their interviews, are impressed by their experience, background, sales, agency affiliation, etc etc, go ahead and put them on your list. And once one chooses to offer rep and if others do as well, then you get to really choose. You'll do further research and base it on your conversation(s).


Good Luck. Wishing you the best!! : )


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#5 wendymarlowe


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Posted 03 February 2014 - 02:01 AM

I always search for the agent's name + "interview" on Google - most have done a ton of blog interviews over the years.  Then when I query, I can say "I saw on your interview with XYZ blog that you particularly love [something I have in my book], so I hope you'll be interested in representing my book, [title] . . ."


I use querytracker.net for a quick-and-dirty way to look up agents, but yeah, a lot of it comes down to legwork :-)  The biggest thing is that most agencies only want you to query one agent at a time (or pick one, period), so sometimes you do have to obsess over their agency bio and figure out who has the best shot at liking your book.  Other times you just send out as many queries as there are possible agents, and you can do a lot more research once someone requests a full.

#6 loreleilouise


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Posted 23 April 2014 - 03:06 PM



I find all the suggestions really good.  And will keep them in mind when I start "interviewing" agents.  But, I have an even more basic question. 


How do you even start getting names of agents?  I have done several searched online, and all I get are companies that will send a list of agent names, once you have paid a membership fee.  Is that the only option?

#7 Guest_AWExley_*

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 03:49 PM

There are databases of agents and publishers here, at AQC or you can use the one at QueryTracker, which also allows you to track searches of agents to research, queries sent and responses.

#8 loreleilouise


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Posted 24 April 2014 - 07:30 AM

Thanks so much for the info!  I was able to do a bit more research yesterday and began finding names.  I especially like the ability to compare agents.



#9 Andrea Lambert

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Posted 10 February 2016 - 07:30 AM

I found the last agent I queried, the first one for this memoir, on the Agent Query database. I looked up memoir and Gay and Lesbian and picked the first one. He worked for an agency in New York that I had queried before with a different manuscript, so I figured he was legit.


Next up, once I trim 20,000 words from my novel and get the tightest possible iteration of my query letter back from all of you helpful souls on the Query Critique board, I am going to track down two agents I have interacted with before. One was receptive to my first book and requested a full, even returned it with helpful critiques. The other I queried before with a different manuscript and he works out of Los Angeles, which is just so much more convenient for me than New York. 


If I get rejected by those two it's back to the drawing board again and the ever-helpful Agent Query database.

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#10 Thrash


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Posted 13 February 2016 - 05:51 PM

There's no right way to do this, but here's my method for what it's worth:

(I'm hoping to start querying when my novel is fully polished, probably about a week from now, so I'm compiling names now.)

1. I use query tracker and I pay the $25/year for the pro. It's not much and you get extra data and can save multiple projects at time, but the actual list is free.  (Side note--recently had a run in with their costumer service after I made a mistake and double paid. They fixed it within 24 hours and were super nice about it.)  

2. I follow and periodically go through #MSWL (with the MSWL blog in one tab, QT in the other)  and save agents who fit my genre to my to query list.

3. When I've gathered a good batch of names, I google them and look them up on Preditors and Editors  and Absolute Write and delete them if there's any red flags.

4. I make notes on each agent about the vibe I get from them on social media and with interviews, and use those notes to loosely rank them.

5. Query in batches of five.


I have yet to get an offer, much less competing offers, but I have a list of questions ready to ask in case of the CALL to help me choose when/if. 

#11 ltlibrarian


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Posted 24 March 2016 - 10:15 AM

I made a giant list of agents that were accepting queries for books in my genre (YA fantasy) and then I visited each of their websites and looked through the books they represented to see if 1) they looked like a professional agency that was selling good titles and 2) to see if they were selling titles similar to what I was writing


Then I read all their bios, chose 1 agent from each company (as you can only query one anyway) and made a list of my favorites with a rank of 1-3. 1 = top choice, 2 = second choice, 3 = would consider working with. I organized these mostly based on if the agent had made a specific #MSWL that sounded like my novel. For example, agents that asked for diverse books/diverse authors, or high concept fantasy, etc.


Finally I organized these into rounds. So the first time I send out a query it will be to half my #2 choices and a couple #3 choices. So if I get rejected I can change my query to be better. But if I get lots of requests then I know the query is good and I can start sending out to my top choices. Vs. sending out to all my top choices first and risking rejection.


Honestly just read the agent bios, check their twitter, creep their blogs. The ones that specifically talk about books that sound like yours will probably more likely to enjoy what you send them.

Looking for feedback on my query, will return the favour!


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#12 flippedbit0010


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Posted 25 August 2017 - 12:22 PM

I'm a newbie to all this as well, but in between bashing my head against the keyboard with writing my Query Letter and Synopsis, I used the database on this site with the advanced search. I checked the boxes for the genre that fits my current manuscript, and it showed up with about 90 agents - and then, I looked at each bio individually, then rated how well I "felt" their compatibility would be for my title and compiled it all into a spreadsheet. I used hyperlinks in my spreadsheet with each agents' name so I can easily click on a name and it takes me straight to their page on AQ. Granted, this is somewhat subjective, but the ones I rated as "most compatible" are the ones I'm beginning to research more aggressively now, such as Google searches or cross-referencing through other websites as others have suggested. Out of those 90 agents, about 30 that made it to my list, and of that 30 only about 10 I ranked higher than an 8 for my subjective compatibility scale. It may or may not actually work out as I have yet to send Queries, but it's my plan and strategy as soon as I am ready to proceed to that step.   

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