Monday, October 5, 2009

Anatomy of an Agent Hunt: Researching Agents (Part One)

Over the next week or so, I’ll be doing this series entitled “Anatomy of an Agent Hunt.” I’m planning to pull together a (by no means exhaustive) list of internet resources that should be of some assistance at various stages of the query process. Today’s topic is researching agents.

Researching agents occurs in two steps: First, you have to actually dig up their names; and second, you have to make sure that they’re legitimate. I’ll consider each of these separately.

Step #1: Dig up agents’ names. There are several great online databases for doing this. Here are my thoughts on the ones I’ve found.

1) Agent Query has put together perhaps the best at-a-glance agent listings online. You can search by agent name or agency or by such broader classifications as genre and whether the agent is currently accepting new clients. I like Agent Query because you can skim their search results and get a feel for what agents you might be interested in querying without actually clicking into the listing itself.

2) QueryTracker also has an expansive collection of agent listings, but they’re less readable than Agent Query’s, and most of their information is only available to members, anyway. It’s not difficult to become a member (you only have to fill out a short form, and basic membership is free), and I have never had any problems with spam or any other invasions of privacy as a result of my membership. But if you’re not comfortable with signing up, then QueryTracker is probably not the best site for you.

The great thing about QueryTracker is all the additional information it provides to its members, like statistical reports about query and submission response times and whether the results of those queries and submissions were rejections or requests. There’s also a message board embedded within each agent listing in which members can share anecdotes about their experience. All of this data is generated by QueryTracker’s members, who self-report on every aspects of their querying exploits.

3) Lit Match is a rough combination of Agent Query and QueryTracker. Its agent listings are more readable (though still not as readable as Agent Query’s, in my opinion), but it also provides several statistical reports (though not as many as QueryTracker or with as much depth). The nice thing about Lit Match is that these statistical reports are available to anyone, but you can’t contribute data to the reports unless you’re a member.

The one thing Lit Match does better than QueryTracker is track queries (ironic, I know)--your own personal queries, that is. As I’ve already mentioned, QueryTracker’s reports are better, but Lit Match’s personal query tracking page is just more readable. Of course, Lit Match’s creator is currently in the process of revamping the site, which he’s planning to unveil at the end of the month, so maybe all of that will change in a few weeks, anyway.

Phew. That took a lot longer than I thought. I guess I’ll cover step two tomorrow. But if you know of any other great places to find agents, feel free to share them in the comments below.

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