Are you having trouble finding a good agent you like working with? If so, join the club. This is one of the most common complaints of writers, including long-time professional writers. Even writers who have an agent may be looking for another one, or have different types of writing projects better handled by another agent. This article will help you find and select an agent.
Some considerations to keep in mind when choosing the agent that’s best for you are:
– Types of books handled. Most agents handle multiple types of books, but some agents specialize. It can be useful to choose an agent who handles several types of books if you have different types of writing projects. Or you may prefer to divide up different types of books with different agents, if the agents agree. In some cases, agents will handle other types of projects for clients, but only when they are representing the client for their primary area of emphasis. (Most commonly this occurs when the agent represents you for non-fiction and additionally takes on fiction, children’s books, or scripts). Check on what types of manuscripts the agent handles to decide what’s best for you.
– Film and TV rights. Most agents handle film and TV rights for projects they represent – generally through a rep in L.A. or elsewhere on the West Coast, though some handle the rights themselves. If you want an agent who specializes in film and TV rights, look for one who is a member of the Writers Guild of America (WGA), since many producers, production companies, and studios will only deal with WGA agents. You can find these agents listed on the WGA Web site, and the Hollywood Creative Directory also has a directory which comes out twice a year which features agents and managers.
– Foreign reps and rights. Most agents handle foreign rights, generally through a subagent or group of subagents, although some handle these rights themselves. Should you want to know the foreign reps which different agents use, the listings for many agents are in the Literary Marketplace, which is available in a hard copy which comes out annually and online.
– Location. Decide if you prefer an agent who is near you or who is near the publishers, if you live out of the major publishing centers. These are in New York City (especially for mainstream commercial books), Los Angeles (especially for film and TV projects), and the San Francisco Bay Area (especially for more targeted smaller audience and independent books). Generally, it is best to get an agent in the major centers, especially in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C. on the East Coast or in California on the West Coast. Within these states, it is best to have an agent who is close to the major publishing centers. Still, many agents do extensive traveling and some have relocated from these centers, so they may still be well connected. Then, too, if you like having face-to-face contact with your agent, you may prefer one in your area.
– Size of Agency. While many agents are independent or work in small agencies, others are part of large agencies or affiliations of agents, such as William Morris, International Creative Management, and Writers House. While a big name affiliation can help new agents gain clout, many independent agents or agents in smaller agencies have excellent reputations and have sold big books. While you can initially query more than one agent in an agency, since not all agents will be interested in the same project, if more than one expresses interest, you have to decide which one to follow-up with additional material. To explain why you contacted more than one agent in the same agency, you can say that you weren’t sure who to contact. This multiple contact approach works better when you are sending e-mails, since this is a more informal type of initial contact. If you are sending a query by regular mail, it is better to pick one agent in an agency to query first. Then, if you have no response from that agent in a couple of weeks, try a second agent at that agency.
– Affiliations and Listings. An agent’s affiliations and listings in directories of agents can help you decide whom to contact, too. The agents who are listed in Literary Marketplace and/or are members of the Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR) generally have fairly solid credentials, although the AAR list provides little information other than whether an agent handles nonfiction, fiction, children’s books, or dramatic works. A number of popular directories include more bandar judi online detailed information on some of these agents. But many of the bigger and more established agents aren’t listed in these directories or don’t provide much information, since they get most of their new clients by referrals or through industry sources, like panel discussions of agents for writers groups. Still you can often break through to a big agent with a well-written query about a compelling project. The PublishersAndAgents Agent Assessment and Location Service also provides some detailed information on agent affiliations.
– Areas of Specialization. Besides the broad areas of specialization – Nonfiction (N), Fiction (F), Scripts/Screenplays (S), and Children’s Books (which range from juveniles to young adults) (C) – many agents and agencies describe their interests in various sources. Where these descriptions are available, you can find agents or agencies with particular interests (i.e. “business” if you have a business book; “self-help” or “relationships” if you have a personal improvement book). However, don’t overlook the agents who don’t provide such information, since many agents who haven’t listed the particular subject area of your book or haven’t listed any specialties may still be interested, especially if your book is a general trade or commercial nonfiction or fiction book.