I spent most of Friday and Saturday compiling information on agents that sell in my genre(s). What fun, what fun!
I still have all my info from the last time I did the query merry-go-round, but I decided to start fresh this time. After all, some agents change agencies or start their own shops, some stop accepting unsolicited queries, and some just stop agenting. I wanted to make sure that my information was fresh and up-to-date.
One of the things that bothered me the last time I did this was that I only had a nebulous idea of what “level” each agent stood at. Top-tier agent, middle-of-the-road agent, might-not-even-want-to-query them agent? So this time, I decided to create a ranking system. I used several factors for my ranking:
- Are they a member of the AAR?
- Do they have sales verified by Preditors and Editors?
- Do they have a “Recommended” or “Highly Recommended” rating from P&E?
- Do they sell YA?
- Do they sell fantasy?
I created a spreadsheet in which I documented the answer to each of these questions for each agent I researched. Then I gave one “point” for each “Yes”. E.g., an agent who is a member of the AAR, has verified sales, is recommended by P&E, and sells YA AND fantasy receives five points. An agent who is NOT a member of the AAR, does NOT sell fantasy, does NOT have an actual recommendation from P&E, but sells YA and has verified sales, receives two points.
I ranked 44 agents on these criteria. Results:
- 5-pointers: 6
- 4-pointers: 13
- 3-pointers: 14
- 2-pointers: 8
- 1-pointers: 2
I’m well aware that my criteria are not all equal–for instance, an agent who doesn’t have a membership with the AAR but has a recommendation from P&E might be just as good as an agent who has both. Hey, I didn’t say I was perfect, did I? The system just gives me a better idea of which agents I want to target.
My big concern right now is who to query, and when. I know most people say to start at the top and work your way down. I, however, think it might be more worthwhile to try a more scattershot approach, at least at first. I’m considering sending my first batch of queries to a mixture of agents: maybe two 4-pointers, one 3-pointer, and two 2-pointers. If I don’t receive any requests for partials from that batch, then I’ll know that my query needs some revision before I try any of the big guys.