Does anyone have some tips for how to obtain an agent?
Learn how to write a good query letter.
Meet agents in person at a writers conference near you.
I did pretty well by reading the acknowledgement sections of books I thought were similar to mine. Most authors credit their agents. That will help to pare the list, or you'll be querying forever.
One piece of advice you can take or leave, as I know some disagree with me: I never queried agents who said I'd only hear back if they were interested. My thinking is, this is to be a partnership, agent and author. One making the other jump through hoops, and I'll get back to you if i feel like it, is hardly the foundation of a successful or enjoyable partnership.
Great advice! And, I agree with you. I wouldn't want to deal with an agent who would only respond to me "if I feel like it." Talk about attitude!
Unfortunately, it's the norm. Many don't state it so candidly, but it's for real. They're a buyer's market, essentially: they don't have to care.
Query only members of AAR. There are unscrupulous people out there. As for the rest, I checked Writers Digest (God, that was a long time ago) for agents working in my genre. You may also get names from ackowledgments, of course.) and then wrote a very brief query letter, describing the book (s) I'd written and my credentials.
In the second stage, once someone requests a submission exclusive, be sure to give them a deadline, or you'll be at this forever.
I almost never grant anybody an exclusive look at anything.
It's not really their right to demand that. It real industries it would be illegal.
If somebody I really want is reading a book, maybe.
One thing to think about on this... they act like you'll be blacklisted forever if you don't go exclusive (and only be able to show a book or story to 3-4 people a year?????) but there really isn't a hooded tribunal of agents and publishers out there building lists.
Bottom line, what's the worst that could happen? Two of them want your book at the same time? Gosh, that would be awful.
One of the best resources is Agent Query. Their database is current, no scammer agents, and it's easily searchable by genre. They also have great examples of how to write a query letter, and tips on how to query.
There are other sites with similar information, but in my opinion, Agent Query is so good, there's no reason to go anywhere else -
Matter of fact... this blog post gets reprinted and linked to a lot.
The main resource there, which I urge on all seraching for agents and understanding the whole process is the AgentQuery database, and their forum in which there is ton's of advice specifically aimed at agent search.
Now that I see Karen's post, I'm obviously in agreement, but would add that other sites, maybe even AAR (which does not have all the good guys, nor exclude all the bad guys) be used to double=check anybody you're considering.
Also, just run their name with "literary" agent on Google. Maybe again with a tag like "scam" or "worthwhile"
Cold querying is tough. If you have a friend whose agent might be a good fit, a referral always helps. Otherwise, I agree that http://agentquery.com/ is a good place to start.
Thanks for all the helpful advice. I appreciate your taking the time to point me in the right direction.
Unfortunately, any book you buy is already out of date. An online hunt is better. Agent Query is helpful. The absolute write water cooler is a great resource - http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=22
Also check Writer Beware - http://www.sfwa.org/for-authors/writer-beware/