Friday, March 27, 2009

Thirty-One Flavors - Agent Week - End, and how to find literary agent info on your own

Song playing on brain (I'm too cheap to own an i-pod, yet): Lawrence Welk Show end song- "Good night, (ba-da, dada), sleep tight, (ba-da, dada), and may your dreams come true..."

So we've reached the end of Thirty-One Flavors- Agent Week, and hopefully, you found some of it interesting and useful. And if not, maybe you found it diversionary, giving you an excuse to read something "work-related" and as my best writer pal, A , says, "something to do besides organize my sock drawer".

Tips and resources for finding info on agents:

Read the agent's own agent blogs, websites, and agency websites. This should be obvious, but I figured my list would be incomplete if I did not start with it. And how to find those things if you do not already have a URL, agency name or web address? Do a little searching, but smarter, not harder. Save yourself the effort of using multiple search engines, or worse, only getting results from one search source-do a Metacrawler search. Metacrawler aggregates info from Google, Yahoo! Search, MSN Search, Ask Jeeves, About, MIVA, LookSmart and more, and is one of my faves- I've been using it since the mid-nineties when it was first created at the UW (Go Huskies!) and have not looked back. Use Metacrawler to find lots of hits on your agent name, and start reading. A free source that lists agents, their AAR (Association of Author's Representatives) membership status, what fiction and nonfiction genres they do, what their current submission status is and how to submit to them, any special interests- VERY KEY! - And if you are lucky, some facts and tidbits on them, as well clients lists, previous agencies they've worked at, and links to info about them- i.e., interviews posted on blogs, etc. There are also partial listings of new deals from Publisher's Marketplace (a paid database, see below) on the agent's profiles, but not as many or as recent as available from Publisher's Marketplace itself. Of course, the info is only as current as the agent keeps it, but it appeared that the agents I looked at were editing their profiles regularly. This site also has a nice lists of agent and other writing blogs. Agent Query is geared to help nonfiction and fiction authors of books as well as writers of short-story collections and children’s book authors. They don’t have much information that will help writers of poetry collections, screenwriters, playwrights, or freelance magazine writers.

Publisher's Although it is $20 a month, it does give very recent deals information and a contact database that provide "inside" information. As a member, there are other bennies, too. See the website for more info. Deals info shows you what works and agent has sold sell, who they sell it to (i.e., what editors are receptive to their offerings), and what sort of deals they cut. Sometimes you can find deals info. on the agency website for a larger agency, but that's hit and miss. This source makes that search easy. Another free source that lists agent info., but less than Agentquery. What this site has though, is submissions tracking tools and submission history from users, so you can see what other responses other writers get from the agents, and response times, etc. The submission info is only as good as the data entered by other writers, and how often the agents update their profiles, so again, it is hit and miss.

Check with other writers, editors, etc. Of course, ask your peers and critique group members what they know, and beyond that, some of the info. I liked the best about agents was found in interviews with agents posted on other writer's or writing-related people's blogs and websites. There are some great blogs/sites out there for initial source info. on agents. A few favorites specifically for that:

Cynthia Leitich Smith's blog
Verla Kay's agent workshop transcripts
Alma Fullerton's website
Alice Pope's CWIM blog
Alan Rinzler's blog

Guide to Literary Agents website and blog. Electronic (paid subscription) source. But, the blog contains some free info, as well.

Check forums, chat rooms, bulletin boards
and newsgroups for threads that relate to the agent of interest- like those on

And the resources that you should check when you come upon an agent you know nothing about- i.e., NOT from an SCBWI resource. Sad, but true, there are literary predators out there, you need to protect yourself and do your homework to make sure you don't become prey.

Last- when it comes to submitting to an agent, take your submission guidance from the source closest to the agent- the agent's own blog, agency website, etc. Do not take it from one of the free databases just in case the database has not been updated. In a couple of cases, I found conflicting submission process info., or info. that had not been updated in one place or another, so make sure you get it from the most authoritative source - the agent or his or her agency.

I may add more to each agent profile after the conference if I learn of any additional or different material. Keep your eyes out for it.

But wait, there's more! I did not serve-up thirty-one flavors. Yet.

I still have the Queen of England living in my house for the bulk of the day, and when she starts a full day of practicing her monarchical skills this fall, I will be free to post more frequently. In the meantime, I will be continually adding agent info and editor info as I come upon it, and I will post it in the thirty-one flavors format in the future, just not all back to back in one week.

In fact, I may go beyond thirty-one...check back regularly to see what's new!

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