Shopping for Agents Online

I’ve been purchasing a few needed items for my preschool.  In the process, I discovered the beauty of online shopping.  I know, everyone else has been doing it for years.  But I’m always a little late to the technological game.  Anyway…

Price check on website three, please.

It’s super easy to shop around for a great deal.  When DH and I purchased patio furniture three summers ago, we drove to seven different stores to compare product and price.  Gas+time=frustration.  Times SEVEN.

E-pinions and product reviews are dandy.  I love getting this feedback from other consumers.  Short of asking everyone in the store if they have bought a Tiny Tot Tinker Trike and what they think about it, I have no way of knowing how good the Tinker Trike might be.  Enter online reviews and you know instantly that seven out of ten people hated the Tinker Trike.  In which case, I would buy the five-star TuffStuff Trike-o-rama

The experience is instantly gratifying.  I like.  I click.  I pay.  Then I move on to the next item on my list.  Like painting.  If I were on the road, chasing down good deals, I wouldn’t be painting the inside of kitchen cupboards and sewing puppet theater curtains.  I would be wasting time and gas and gaining a new level of frustration.

Online shopping is easy–for playground equipment and agents.

While I have only really entered the online age about two years ago, I have learned a few things along the way. 

What did I learn?

  1. The internet is a great place to do comparison shopping.  By the time books on the writing biz come out, they are outdated.  Agents and editors have swapped companies, started their own business or dropped out of the game altogether.  Relying solely on printed info is a bit like traveling to seven different stores and can keep you one step behind the competition.  Websites and blogs are amazing places to glean info about your potential victims and their tastes. 
  2.  Be sure to check out the epinions of your future agent or editor.  This can safeguard you from inadvertently purchasing the Tinker Trike instead of the Trik-o-rama.  Preditors and Editors is a great resource, as are blogs and articles found during an engine search.  It’s a bit voyeuristic, but if done well, it can help you pinpoint agents and editors with similar literary tastes, ethics and personalities.
  3. Online querying is more instant than microwave oatmeal.  We write.  We click send.  I could no longer use the excuse of not having stamps or the fact that our post office was never open when I was ready.  Write and click.  This method forces us to find new excuses for our procrastination habit while freeing up oodles of time to actually write and edit our manuscripts.  Double bonus.

In a nutshell, we write in a time of relative ease.  Free information is at our fingertips and should make targeted queries the rule, rather than the exception.  E-querying is less time-consuming and should allow us more time to hone our craft.  Our quality and quantity of writing should increase. 

But there is a downside to shopping in our jammies with bed head.  The casualness of this process can become so comfortable we forget to put our best foot forward.  And that’s a mistake we can ill-afford to make.

How has online shopping changed your writing life?  Have you ever encountered an agent/editor you loved on paper, only to discover the blogosphere is not as pleased with him/her as you would like?  Do you feel that online information can help target an agent/editor with similar tastes or is the info still too broad to make a better match than a blanket submission approach?

 

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16 responses to “Shopping for Agents Online

  1. All good advice. I like to start with Writer’s Market or Guide to Literary Agents in print, and then go to the agent or publisher’s website to get updated information. That’s where we often see a note posted that the office is closed to submissions until further notice (or for the month of August or whatever). We can save a lot of time and paper and postage if we use our online resources.

    As for shopping for other things online, I especially love the option during the Christmas season when there’s so much to do and I’ve left so little time. 🙂

    • I’ll have to join you in the Christmas shopping quest. I think I’m in love with the ease.

      I always started with the Writer’s Market too. It helped me narrow down my ginormous list so it was more managable when I hit the internet.

  2. After exhausting the world of agents that require or accept on-line queries, I sprung for the $12 in postage required to snail mail all the dinosaurs – being very careful (of course) to include the SASE.

    I received exactly ONE SASE in return mail.

    If the #%#$*# agency is DEMANDING a SASE, the least it can do is be courteous enough to insure your return stamp is canceled.

    They prolly have some intern down in the basement steaming stamps off.

    • LOL! Remind me never to intern at an agency!

      I only ever snailed. At the start of my querying career, I got better responses. I think because it was the norm to have most, if not all, commication go through the mail. All my poetry, short stories and articles were 100% snailed. However, when the internet started to catch fire in the publishing industry, I found that fewer snails ever followed their slime trails home.

      Or maybe the economy was better and the stamps not so valuable?

  3. I’m getting closer to starting the querying process and I’m terrified. I’m doing a ton of agent reserach but still feel like I’m drowning half the time.

    Thank heavens for AQ & QT & Pred&Ed – these amazing sites make life so much easier!

    Peter – you crack me up!

    • Jemi,

      The online resources help make the search more manageable. There is so much info out there and less excuse for us to partner up with scam artists.

  4. I never send out a query without checking P&E, as well as looking on querytracker to see other people’s remarks about each agent. Very helpful.

    • I like looking up Query Trackers stats. Also the ones on the Verla Kay boards. It’s almost perverse to see how few requests for fulls and offers for representation agents make while still clicking the send button. : )

  5. I do tons of online research, especially when it comes to agents. The www makes everyone pretty transparent these days, so you can get the information you need. But it’s still exhausting and keeping on task on the internet is a challenge.

    P&E and QueryTracker are great resources for agent hunting.

    Come visit me at my new blog! I moved from WordPress to Blogger.com

    Are you Twittering too?

    • I do twitter, though my tweets are few and far between. You are right about keeping on task while “researching” online. It is easy to slip in a few extra minutes checking up on something else and then suddenly an hour has passed and we’re fifty clicks away from where we started.

  6. Excellent advice you offer Cate. I love online shopping, but find it way too easy to click “buy” sometimes. Great post. Thanks.

  7. Online research has changed my life – not so much stereotypical shopping. I once discovered te perfect agent – fit me to a T – until I found out he wasn’t interested in Asian settings. A personal piccadillo I can’t fault (we all have them), but one I found incredibly disappointing.

  8. Excellent article! Hope you don’t mind if we include it in our Friday round-up of best articles for writers!

    Martina

    • You are more than welcome to share any of my posts as long as you link it back! Thanks for the wonderful words of encouragment. Writers need every word they can get!

      Thanks for stopping by and I’ll check out your blog when I get back.

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