Author Topic: How to know which agent is the right for me?  (Read 867 times)

Offline Chiky

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 5
  • Karma: 0
  • I'll be changing my picture with some random stuff
How to know which agent is the right for me?
« on: July 10, 2020, 11:12:17 PM »
Hi, I'm chiky, and I'm new here and new in all of this traditional publishing world.
One thing that keeps me wondering is how do I know which is the right agent for me. It's mostly just curiosity, as due to the nature of my novel and where I am from I'm 99% sure I'll swlf publish, yet there is this 1% which makes me really curious about the traditional process.
I'm currently working on a sci-fi novel, so, all I know is that I have to search for an agent that works with sci-fi, but besides that, what else should I be looking for? Yesterday as I was checking the site, I remember seeing around 217 (something like that) agents for sci-fi. From among them, how many of those should I try to reach? What should I have in mind at the time of choosing someone? Because I'm almost sure the practice is not to send all those ~217 a querry, that doesn't sound like a good practice, yet I know nothing about this so probably it is...
Anyone can help me with some guidance?
Again, this is 99% curiosity :P

Offline Tabris

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4996
  • Karma: 998
  • I rock!
Re: How to know which agent is the right for me?
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2020, 06:21:20 AM »
How many to reach out to...?

"It depends" is always the answer. If you send ten queries and every one of them is a rejection, do not query the other 207 agents. Reassess your query letter to make sure it's doing its job. Reassess your first five pages to see if they're working well. Get feedback. Look at your title. Then try ten more.

If you're sure the query and the pages are doing well but you're not getting requests--stop querying.
If you are getting requests here and there, but rejections with no feedback--you probably don't want to go through all 217 agents.

If you're getting lots of requests and then rejections with suggestions or revise/resubmits--I'd say then keep going.

---

What should you have in mind when you're choosing...?

"It depends." Look at who represents authors that are writing what you iike to write. Look at the agents' sales history. If they say they rep SF but they've only ever sold one SF title and 500 romance titles--find someone else. Check their QT stats and see what genres they've been requesting lately. Look at their agency website and see the kinds of things they're asking for. Check out MSWL and hunt for agents who like the same qurky things you do.

Offline klclou

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 50
  • Karma: 10
Re: How to know which agent is the right for me?
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2020, 11:08:10 AM »
It's a difficult question. Vexed even.

I generally search to ensure they represent my genre(s) and age group. I also check sales and make sure the agency is legit. I don't really go for the agents that do a lot of online publishing stuff with Amazon etc and ask authors to do all their own promotion because I can do that myself if I want to - I can't see the point of the agent at that stage. Agents, to my mind, are valuable because of their contacts with publishers and the things they can do for you, the people they know, their knowledge of what will sell to...and this is an important distinction for me...the publisher. I don't trust an agent's personal taste. An agent saying they like quirky cozy mysteries or only like books that fit into their moral compass isn't really very interesting except in so far as you can get a good idea of how narrow the neck of their net is. A lot of them are willing to let a big fish slip away because it has a swear word in the first 5 pages or something. So be aware of that when choosing who to query - agents are inundated with pitches all day and they are actually actively looking for reasons to exclude submissions. I've read reasons like 'I only like positive stories', 'I prefer my MC's to be this way or that way'. It's all I, my, me - almost never about what you'd think it would be, which is 'wow, lots of OTHER people might love to read this'. The audience they have in their head seems to be many times smaller than the audience you have in your head, and a lot less diverse (though diversity is a big focus of most agents). So watch for that.
But, having said that, don't self reject either. They are generally trying to narrow the field but that doesn't mean they absolutely won't take work that seems to go against everything they state. Just read the books they represent to see how completely far some of them are from what they actually say they like.

Offline JeanneG

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2101
  • Karma: 505
    • Jeanne Lyet Gassman
Re: How to know which agent is the right for me?
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2020, 11:17:36 AM »
You really need to do some research on the agents who rep SF. Start by looking at their websites and see who they represent. There are different kinds of SF, and you should look for agents who have an interest in your subgenre. Also, look for agents who represent books similar to your own. You can find this info on Amazon. Look up the books that are similar to your book and see what other books people buy when they bought this one. Then Google the authors. If they are traditionally published, they will usually mention their agent in either the acknowledgment pages in their books or on their websites.

Also, the top agents belong to Association of Author Representatives (AAR). These are agents who have to ascribe to a code of ethics and who have to reach a certain level of sales before they can apply for membership. You can find out from Query Tracker's database or from their web pages if they belong to AAR.

Google the agents to look for interviews, profile stories, complaints, etc. This can help you narrow the list as well.

Your goal is to create three lists:

The A list is the list of your dream agents (Be aware this can change over time.)
The B list is the list of solid, hardworking agents that you would like to work with.
The C list is the list of agents that might be okay.

Make sure your novel is as polished as you can make it. If you haven't worked with a critique group or beta readers, you might want to do that before you start querying. Once you feel you book is ready, you need to refine and polish your query. That can be harder than writing the book! But do take the time to do this. Get feedback on your query here before you send it out. When you feel ready to query, start by testing the waters with mostly your B list and a few from your C list--no more than 10 total. If you get a lot of requests, then start firing off that query to the A list. If you get nothing but form rejections, take a break and go back to your revisions and/or your query. It could be one or both that's holding you back.

Finding a good agent is a long and arduous process, but it can be very rewarding if you connect with someone who looks after your work and your career. Good luck! Hope that was helpful.

JeanneG
Debut novel, BLOOD OF A STONE (Tuscany Press) released in March 2015; winner of IPPY in national category of religious fiction and currently a finalist for IAN Book of the Year. My work-in-progress: THE DOUBLE SUN.
FB: https://www.facebook.com/JeanneLyetGassman
Twitter: @JLyetGassman

Offline 217mom

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 45
  • Karma: 5
Re: How to know which agent is the right for me?
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2020, 05:37:24 PM »
You intrigued me with the ~217 agents   :emb2:  {and the added ~ for approximately  >:D}

If you are on Querytracker, it's fair to assume you will seek the traditional route even if for a limited time. SP doesn't involve querying, does it?
As to how do you know for sure you have a good fit, you don't. Not for certain. We take chances. But we try to make them informed chances. We internet search, network with others, learn about some general customs/principals/NO-NOs, and then we try to connect. When we get a YES we hope it's right.

Offline Chiky

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 5
  • Karma: 0
  • I'll be changing my picture with some random stuff
Re: How to know which agent is the right for me?
« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2020, 12:08:20 AM »
I generally search to ensure they represent my genre(s) and age group. I also check sales and make sure the agency is legit. I don't really go for the agents that do a lot of online publishing stuff with Amazon etc and ask authors to do all their own promotion because I can do that myself if I want to - I can't see the point of the agent at that stage. Agents, to my mind, are valuable because of their contacts with publishers and the things they can do for you, the people they know, their knowledge of what will sell to...and this is an important distinction for me...the publisher. I don't trust an agent's personal taste. An agent saying they like quirky cozy mysteries or only like books that fit into their moral compass isn't really very interesting except in so far as you can get a good idea of how narrow the neck of their net is. A lot of them are willing to let a big fish slip away because it has a swear word in the first 5 pages or something. So be aware of that when choosing who to query - agents are inundated with pitches all day and they are actually actively looking for reasons to exclude submissions. I've read reasons like 'I only like positive stories', 'I prefer my MC's to be this way or that way'. It's all I, my, me - almost never about what you'd think it would be, which is 'wow, lots of OTHER people might love to read this'. The audience they have in their head seems to be many times smaller than the audience you have in your head, and a lot less diverse (though diversity is a big focus of most agents). So watch for that.

ooffffff some of the things you say here are the reason why I don't like the idea of having an agent as a whole. Of course, I suppose thr more professional agents try to be as objective as possible, but i have no idea if that's the case

Your goal is to create three lists:

The A list is the list of your dream agents (Be aware this can change over time.)
The B list is the list of solid, hardworking agents that you would like to work with.
The C list is the list of agents that might be okay.


noted :)
Also, about the query being harder than the book, I can almost guarantee so ahhaha I haven't written one yet, bit i tried some blubs and i'm awful at them ...

@Tabris that sounds like a solid method. So, is receiving feedback and suggestiosn the best outcome from a rejection?

 @217mom Basically a lottery :P