Thursday, April 11, 2013

Baby Evil Writers 101: Finding a Reputable Agent #2

Baby Evil Writers 101: Finding a Reputable Agent #2
Julie Butcher

Last time we talked about finding an agent, we decided that being a member of AAR was a good place to start. You can read that post here. But, there are tons of ways to research literary agents. Although AAR is a great place to start, other wonderful agents are out there just waiting to partner with you and bring out the best in your work.

Jennifer Laughran, a lovely agent and twitter friend, pointed this fact out to me. (You should follow her on twitter and read her blog.) 

From her blog:  Jennifer began her career in agenting after working as a long-time children's bookseller and buyer. She is also the founder of the extremely popular YA event series "Not Your Mother's Book Club". She joined Andrea Brown Literary Agency in 2007. Always on the lookout for sparkling YA and middle grade fiction with unusual and unforgettable characters and vivid settings, she is drawn to all kinds of books, whether realistic comedies or richly imagined magical adventures. However, the common thread in her favorite stories is an offbeat world-view. Jennifer adores simplicity, but she is not interested in the conventional, predictable, mechanical, gimmicky or ordinary. Jennifer loves funny books, thrilling books, romantic books, books that make her cry, and all-around un-put-downable books... and her true favorites are all of the above.

Now, since I know that Jennifer is an extremely successful literary agent (and awesome to boot) but not a member of AAR, we’re using her as an example on how to research to see if she is reputable.

The first thing you do is to go to Predators and Editors. Click on the agent and publishers link, and pick the first letter of the literary agent’s name. When I scrolled down, I found this.

Jennifer Etherton Literary Services: Not recommended. A literary agency.
Jennifer Flannery: A literary agent with Flannery Literary.
Jennifer Gates: $ An agent with Zachary Shuster Harmsworth.
Jennifer Jackson: $ AAR A literary agent (Literary, Adult) with Donald Maass Literary Agency.
Jennifer Jaeger: A literary agent with Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
Jennifer Joel: $ A literary agent with ICM.
Jennifer Laughran: A literary agent with Andrea Brown Literary Agency. <-SEE THIS IS GOOD

Clearly, there isn’t a *not recommended* warning next to her name. Predators and Editors keep on top of the scoundrels of publishing but they aren’t the be-all and end-all of your search. Next, look up her agency, Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

Andrea Barzvi: $ A literary agent with ICM.

Andrea Brown Literary Agency, Inc.: $ Recommended. A literary agency. (Literary, Children's) Accepts queries through email only.  <-SEE THIS IS GREAT

A recommended agency would not have a shyster as an agent. In publishing, reputation is everything. So right now we’re saying, “Hey, she looks awesome!” Hey there are still more ways that we can check on her reputation.

Next we head over to Absolute Write and check out the forums. Read what other writers say about the agent you’re researching. Here we find that Jennifer was a guest agent at the water cooler. She’s looking better and better. After this, we check her out on Publisher’s Marketplace.

If you have a membership at Publisher’s Marketplace ($20 a month) You can see what every deal reported says. If you can’t afford the fee, google Jennifer Laughran + publishers marketplace+ dealmaker and you can see page after page of registered sales.

Then you go and read her blog and check her twitter stream. You find articles where she is mentioned and check all of the boxes. THEN YOU QUERY.

Since I’ve done all of the research for you, you can query Jennifer here.

You need to research every single agent you query with at least this many steps. Got it?


  1. Haha thanks for the shoutout. :)

    I should point out that my agency is, in fact, AAR. I don't have my own personal membership, but as an agency we're bound to abide by the AAR canon of ethics.

    Still, plenty of fine agents/agencies choose not to pay AAR dues, and that doesn't automatically make them shady.

  2. No it doesn't but we both know people who have gotten all excited at the first offer and whisked themselves into several years of nothing. These guys need to wise up and do their research :D

  3. You can never go wrong with doing your homework :)


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