I don’t know about you, but lit Agents terrify me.
We have so many things to terrify us along the road to grabbing the coveted title Published Author—submitting, re-writing, shrinking markets, Dean Koontz—but, out of everything, it’s The Agent that I fear the most.
Agents are supposed to be your best friend. They’re supposed to love and support you, and bring you your advances on golden platters, pet your head as the fever dreams of critics gnawing your bones keep you shivering awake at night. Agents are supposed to make everything okay.
So, not only do we deal with the horror of trying to convince a fancy professional sitting high up in that New York office that they want to love us like a pet mutant chained up in the basement—we also have to avoid those agents that will take advantage of our writerly vulnerabilities. They may suck our life-force out of our wallets. They may sell our children to the circus and drop our manuscripts on the muddy street corner. They may not try hard to sell our books.
One possible weapon we can use to arm ourselves against a Bad Agent infiltration is the American Association of Author’s Representatives. The AAR is a non-for-profit professional organization for agents, and they have this nifty Canon of Ethics that helps ensure its members are not writer-preying con artists. (Of course, that’s not to say crappy agents never find their way into AAR, but crappy agents won’t necessarily ruin your life the way a scammy agent might.)
Plus, AAR’s got a search engine! A nifty little search engine so you can find the two whole agents that might be interested in our Historical Slashpunk Steamthriller Murder Mystery novel. (If you want a better range of results, better write romance. The horror!) This search engine links to agents’ websites and submission guidelines, and also gets you to where you can check out what books they’ve already sold.
Because, from what I hear, we’re supposed to make sure an agent has actually sold books before submitting to them. There’s still a few of those around, thankfully.
I’m currently hunting down the agent that’s somehow sold a bazillion Koontz books, cuz, whoever they are, they’re so good they must have sold their soul to the Devil. Same thriller crap under different titles published twice a year with massive advances? Aws, yeah. I want in on some that action. And I wasn’t using my soul, anyway.