Literary agents – there isn’t a specific mold of one personality or business approach. Each agent brings a distinct set of work and life experiences, as well as personality, to the table. For writers, this may be difficult to handle when deciding on which agents to query, as it’s true – every agent is different.
Here’s my perspective, much like the joy of selecting from sometimes 15 different types of cupcakes at my favorite bakery, choosing an agent can be a very positive experience. Choices are a GOOD thing.
Some things to consider during the agent query process:
1. Never discount the new, fresh literary agent. I remember my early days as an agent; if that over-the-top energy could be boxed and saved for the future, I would have happily done it. Remember that the new literary agent is starting with a clean slate. The new literary agent is ready to represent new ideas and is waiting for the opportunity to get an aspiring writer published. Us “old-timers” love their enthusiasm, which means writers should too. 🙂
2. Never discount the need for a good personality match. If the potential literary agent doesn’t have a similar communication style and/or doesn’t interact well with YOU the writer, it’s probably a good idea to consider working with a different person.
3. Never discount the location of the literary agent. In this day of telecommunications, living outside of New York is okay. It’s more about the agent(s) keeping in touch with the editors and publishing houses on a regular basis. This can be accomplished through Social Media, special trips to Manhattan, and the old method of phone calls.
4. Never discount the work/life experiences. Some agents were editors. Others started in bookstores (much like myself). Many agents have various college degrees and academic backgrounds. Even some agents are published writers themselves. Having one (or all) of these experiences = already providing a valuable perspective on the publishing industry.
I hope this helps! And always remember to follow the specific agency guidelines too, as that’ll make an even bigger impact on success of one’s queries.