There are lots of ways to find agents. In my case, stand on a street corner near Penn Station, pop open a bottle of Macallan 12 and you won't need to wait long.
In the case of other more sober and circumspect of my ilk, there are resources like AgentQuery.com, AbsoluteWrite.com and the annual published editions of Guide to Literary Agents and a myriad of other, lesser known sites as well.
Not all of them are created equal.
If you use any of those sites, check to see if there's a way agents can update their info, or give feedback to the site manager.
I've found a lot of sites that purport to list essential info about agents that have my details including sales and what I'm looking for, just plain wrong. I'd send them an email to fix it, but there's no way to do so.
And when I get a query that references one of those sites, I know I'm looking at a query from someone who didn't do much research.
Research can be over-rated. There's no way to make a list that won't have a bad fit or two or ten on it. The trick is to realize research means checking more than one site, starting with the ones that are most up to date, and most readily correctable.
My list of where to start: AgentQuery.com; QueryTracker.net, AbsoluteWrite.com, PublishersMarketplace.com
If you've got others, list them in the comment column, and I'll be glad to check them out.
Not an agent list, but its left hand, Preditors and Editors (pred-ed.com).
Believe it or not, but not everyone out there is nice. What a shock.
I'm a huge QueryTracker fan, so I'm happy to see that on your list. I love how easy they make it to cross-reference with other agent sites too (links listed on the "overview" tab).
Usually when I refer to a site in my query, I'm talking about how I came across that agent in the first place. It doesn't mean it's the only source I used.
Literary Rambles by Casey McCormick is a good resource:
Thanks for the post!
It's amazing and wonderful how much agents like each other.
I prefer to check out agent websites and blogs. They tend to follow other "favorite" agents, who follow other "favorite" agents. Follow? The information on agent blogs/websites has been invaluable.
I've also found Twitter (though it is the greatest pain in my arse) to be a fantastic tool for finding agents and their blogs, websites, etc.
I've used AgentQuery and found it pretty good, if not perfectly up-to-date. But I always check the agent's website too or, if they don't have one, at the very least do enough googling to rule out scammers and confirm gender.
(Sure, you think I sound paranoid, but I'm pretty sure there are agents out there who are still laughing over the boneheaded mistakes I made the first time I tried querying, back in Ye Olden Days. The best form of defense is sufficient information.)
Thank you, Janet Reid! So nice to have some guidance in this business.
Thank you. I'm one of the QueryTracker bloggers and appreciate the shout-out.
QueryTracker and AgentQuery are great to get ideas on which agents to query, but that's only the start; next the writer should cross-check with Publisher's Marketplace and the agency's website. The agency website should (we hope!) be the most updated of any information source. But the clearinghouse sites are amazing tools for narrowing down the search to the ones most likely to be a match.
Also, QueryTracker has excellent software for keeping track of which agents you've queried, links to interviews with many different agents. It also can generate reports telling writers how quickly an agent tends to respond, how often the agent requests partials or fulls, and so on. In many ways, that kind of information takes a lot of the worry out of the process.
Great resources, but I agree it's important to actually check the agent's/agency's site too, before firing off emails!
Thank you for posting this - I've been searching for agents recently, and a couple of the sites I've found that list them are a little... sketchy. Unreliable. But I've also used some of those you're listing, and I feel like they're generally more trustworthy.
You can't complete trust all those sites either. They list legitimate agents, but as with every profession, there are good and bad even among the legit.
I need to jump back into the finding another agent. I think I'd rather paint myself in peanut better and let my dog lick me to death.
You've listed my favorites, and I especially like Agent Query. I also look at Guide To Literary Agents. Standing on a corner in my neck of the woods doesn't yield good results.
I second what Tamara said--Casey McCormick's site is absolute gold for children's writers.
I check the wall at my local post office. There are usually five or six agents there. Bonus: you get a front view, a profile, and a list of scars and tattoos.
Pop open a bottle of 12 yo Macallan!!!
My dear Sharky, one does not ‘pop open’ a bottle of this venerable elixir.
One carefully peels off the lead foil, eases out the cork stopper, and then savours that initial, delicious heady aroma of the trapped whisky vapour, before pouring a hearty measure with a dash of water; and not that foul chlorinated, fluorinated stuff that comes out our taps over here in Blighty.
If I had known it was that easy to get an agent, I would have hung around the offices of agents, with a tumbler and open bottle of the good stuff, years ago.
Seriously, when doing research, make sure you have a huge pinch of salt.
It is a sad fact that regardless of your level and sources of research, it will be out of date before you have signed your query letter or hit the send button on your email app. As an example, many sources claim an agency is reading when, in reality, they are not.
Even more sadly, but it is a reflection of, well, Humanness, many of the agents’ websites and entries in the sources mentioned in this blog post are merely propaganda; marketing fluff, designed to entice with all forms of nice, cosy words, about how they read everything sent to them, and will comment on sample manuscripts, and nurture new talent, etc.
Hah, in your dreams, kid!
And if, on the rare occation, they do read your manuscript, you encounter what I term the Alice Newton factor.
Cynical or what? Unfortunately it pays to be so. As one agent aptly put it: It’s Bunny Eat Bunny.
Should I be saying this in an agent’s blog? Hmmmm.
Finally, back to my quest. Do you think that I could bag a passing agent if lurked outside Hodder and Stoughton with a bottle of the wonderful Edradour?
Thanks for the list of agents sites. I also keep a running list of agents I hear about through magazines, publications, and books I read. Then, I look for them online...try to subscribe to their blog, if possible. :)
I use the four you listed, then compare the information with the agents' websites.
A feature on Query Tracker that I really like is the way writers can list and track which agents they've queried. Sure beats my old Excel spreadsheets.
Another fan of Query Tracker, here. I frequent the others, as well. But, as Daisy said, it's important to check the agent's/agency's website, follow their blogs, tweet-stalk them, etc.
Also, I have Macallan 12 in my cabinet. How good is your nose?
Thank you for this. I am one to research many sources, no matter what I'm researching. :) So, it's good to see that you include Query Tracker on your list. I use this along with the agent's web presence, so I make sure I have the most up to date info of what they are looking for.
MacAllen 12? Hell, I'd bring you a bottle of Macallan 18 if you'd read my ms...
I use some of these sites, but generally send queries to those agents who have a company website or blog. With agents having such different interests, I find that getting a sense of them through a personal page or blog gives me a better sense of who they are and if they might like my novel.
Because of the subject matter, my story could fit into a mainstream fiction catagory, but also NA, a small amount of paranormal or sci fi, it really just depends. Knowing more about the agent and how they classify their interests helps with how I approach them. I have even written different queries for different agents, though that can get tiring. :-)
I made the mistake before of trusting a well known website for agents and sadly, the information was wrong. That agent did NOT want what the website listed, so I make sure now to check multiple sources and get it from the horse's mouth if I can! Lesson learned. :-)
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