I'm still searching for appropriate agents to submit to, as well as gathering information for the ones I choose. This process has never taken so long, but I've grown much pickier about which agents will go in the Magical Spreadsheet of Joy, and I also collect more information. I got a subscription to Publishers Marketplace, so in addition to all the other information I collect, I search for young adult deals in the past year by my agents of choice, then record the types of deals. Also, I note if they have authors I know (not personally, but have heard of). So the information I collect is as follows:
In the spreadsheet:
- Agent name
- Agency name
- AAR membership status*
- Sales verified by P&E (denoted by a $ next to their name)
- Recommended by P&E (this is different from verified sales, if you're not familiar with P&E's ratings)
- Represents Young Adult books
- Represents Fantasy books
- A list of authors the agent represents that I've read/heard of
- Deals listed in PM, coded by type (Nice, Very Nice, Good, etc.; also, I list the number of multi-book deals and deals for which no rating is given)
- Miscellaneous notes (Do they represent a book like mine? Does their personality, as conveyed by their website and/or internet interviews, seem like it might clash horribly with mine?)
Then I have a separate document in which I list the following information for each agent:
- Contact information
- Website address, if applicable
- Submission guidelines as posted in AgentQuery
- Submission guidelines as posted on website, if information is different or more specific than AgentQuery's**
To some, this may seem extreme or obsessive. To me, it seems smart. If I'm going to ask someone to represent my book, and me, I want to know as much about their professional life as I can. Considering that I'm gathering this information from only three or four websites (AgentQuery, P&E, AAR, and the agent's own site), I don't think I'm going too far. I promise, I won't ferret out their home addresses and stalk them to find out what they like to eat, what time they go to bed, and whether they wear men's or women's underwear.
If I'm going to target the right agent, I need to know what they already represent, what they've sold, etc. To me, it seems like common sense, and having that information close at hand and organized in a sensible way makes the ground under my feet seem more stable when I finally query them.
Those writers out there who have gone through the query process before should know the value of solid ground under your feet. So often, each time we make a trip to the mailbox, send an email or check our inboxes (and spam filters) obsessively, the earth seems shaky at best. To know, when I send out those queries and begin the long, long, long wait for a reply, that I've done my best to query the right people in the right way....
Well, you can't put a price on that.
*I used to count on AgentQuery for this information, but now I do a search on the AAR's website no matter what. AgentQuery is an invaluable resource, but I ran into a few discrepancies with agents' AAR status. Just a note.
**If I find that AgentQuery's information and the agent's own specifications on his/her website differ widely--and this doesn't happen very often--then naturally, I go with the info from the agent's website.