Finding an agent with a sense of humor

Submission protocol, query etiquette, and strategies that work
amyashley
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Finding an agent with a sense of humor

Post by amyashley » September 5th, 2010, 8:42 pm

How do you do it? HELP!

I'm serious. This agent search thing stinks like my husband's gym shorts. Everything says you should be very careful in your agent search, but I don't know if there is a private resource to agent information I don't know about.

Knowing the genres they look for, book deals they are making, and where they work doesn't tell me a whole lot. It's like speed dating or something.

So how do I find someone who isn't as dry as my houseplants? I need someone who laughs a lot.

Margo
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Re: Finding an agent with a sense of humor

Post by Margo » September 5th, 2010, 11:21 pm

Hmmm, interesting criteria. I'd suggest picking out the agents whose specialties and work philosophy fit what you want, then see if they have a blog and read their posts. Also, I'd look for interviews.
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TigerGray
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Re: Finding an agent with a sense of humor

Post by TigerGray » September 6th, 2010, 4:53 am

Honestly I've never encountered an agent that made me think they were humorless. In fact I think a good sense of the absurd is required for the job.


Furthermore I have no idea why you're worrying about an agent's personality when you don't have offers yet. Get an offer of representation, then worry about whether you and your agent click.
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amyashley
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Re: Finding an agent with a sense of humor

Post by amyashley » September 6th, 2010, 10:03 am

Tiger Gray, the humor isn't for me. My book is a heavily comical urban fantasy. Since the genre is NOT typically filled with super funny books, I want someone who loves fantasy, but will take a book well that makes fun of itself and some of the genre too. It doesn't do any of those things in a bad way.

I've been trying to look for blogs.

Down the well
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Re: Finding an agent with a sense of humor

Post by Down the well » September 6th, 2010, 10:11 am

If possible, it helps to go to conferences too. Meeting an agent in person is obviously the best way to get to know their personality. I know everyone has their "nice face" on at conferences, but I really have been impressed with how friendly and funny most agents are. Of course, maybe all the sour-head agents just stay home and don't go to conferences. :P


**Edit
I saw you posted this as I was writing my response:


"My book is a heavily comical urban fantasy. Since the genre is NOT typically filled with super funny books, I want someone who loves fantasy, but will take a book well that makes fun of itself and some of the genre too. It doesn't do any of those things in a bad way."

In this case, you probably just need to find similar books to yours - there must be some - and research who represents the authors.

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AMSchilling
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Re: Finding an agent with a sense of humor

Post by AMSchilling » September 6th, 2010, 11:35 am

As someone who writes and reads urban fantasy, I have to say I disagree with the thought that humor is not typical. For high fantasy? Sure. But urban fantasy is a different creature. Look at writers like Terry Prachet and Robert Aspirin. Jim Butcher in his Harry Dresden novels. The author who writes the Kitty (werewolf) series - sorry, her name escapes me right now. Christopher Moore. MaryJanice Davidson. There's a lot of humor in those books. What I've found in my own search is that some agents, in their bios on their agency's website, will specifically say they're looking for quirky or off-beat. Those are the ones to shoot for, in addition to the agents that rep the authors, above. If you use Publisher's Marketplace, the agents that rep them will pop right out at you - they've got big clients and believe me, they tell you they rep them if you look at their client list.

That being said, I understand wanting an agent with a sense of humor. I'm definitely high on the sarcasm scale, and I do tend to say what pops into my head if I find it humorous. But as TigerGray pointed out, worry more about finding someone who's interested in working with you before you worry about humor too much. The phone call after they read your MS will help you figure out if they've got the right personality for the gig. Just getting to that phone call is astronomically difficult as is--why add stress that you don't need right now, and eliminate someone who might do a great job repping your book, because it wasn't immediately clear they "got it?"
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Re: Finding an agent with a sense of humor

Post by cheekychook » September 6th, 2010, 1:04 pm

I agree with a lot of the advice you've already received here, but I'll reiterate....

Research the agents, particularly their blogs (that's where their sense of humor is most likely to come out)---many agents have blogs, but several of them don't link directly to them, so it may take some digging to find their actual semi-secret sites. If agent personality is that important to you, it's worth it to dig for the info.

If you feel your story is genre-crossing or atypical, definitely seek out agents who specify that they like genre-crossing storylines or who enjoy/rep quirky/offbeat pieces. Quirky/offbeat is actually a category listed on many agents' "what I'm looking for" list.

The most important thing (in my opinion) is finding an agent who believe in YOUR work---thinks he/she can enthusiastically represent YOUR writing---so, in that regard, the sense of humor issue sort of takes care of itself. If your book is offbeat and humorous as you indicate, I imagine it will appeal to the good-humored agent. Honestly, even if the agent is typically a curmudgeonly stick-in-the-mud but falls hopelessly in love with your book in spite of him/herself, would that be a bad thing?
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Re: Finding an agent with a sense of humor

Post by Margo » September 6th, 2010, 1:07 pm

AMSchilling wrote:The author who writes the Kitty (werewolf) series - sorry, her name escapes me right now.

Carrie Vaughn.
cheekychook wrote:Honestly, even if the agent is typically a curmudgeonly stick-in-the-mud but falls hopelessly in love with your book in spite of him/herself, would that be a bad thing?
Yeah, my thinking, exactly.
Last edited by Margo on September 6th, 2010, 1:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Finding an agent with a sense of humor

Post by Margo » September 6th, 2010, 1:12 pm

To kind of play off what others have posted, it's not really going to help to find an agent who laughs a lot but sucks as an agent. If you find one who wants to make an offer, they obviously get your humor, so I'd screen for other criteria. Who do they already rep? What's their editorial approach? What publishing houses do they have contacts in? What kind of author-agent relationship are both of you looking for? How available will they be, or will an assistant be 'handling' you most of the time, and are you okay with that? How involved do they get in development of future projects? Etc etc etc...
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Re: Finding an agent with a sense of humor

Post by Jaime » September 7th, 2010, 9:01 am

Just to add to what other have said, perhaps your query itself may come in handy for weeding out those agents who might have your sense of humour. Most agents are looking for voice in the queries they receive. If your book is quirky/humourous, then it would be due to the voice in your writing. Try to convey that as much as you can in your query, and hopefully that will give them an idea of what they'll be in for with your novel.

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Re: Finding an agent with a sense of humor

Post by JuiceinLA » September 7th, 2010, 1:19 pm

Cheeky Cook - and the others have made excellent points here. I will add these points:

1. Learn the agent's sense of humor: I also search their blogs for their favorite books and what they like to read.

2. Find other authors that YOU think are hilarious and research their agents: Because I THINK my book is "allegedly" hilarious, but also profane and full of debauchery, I queried Kathy Griffin and David Sedaris' agents. I also looked for authors/agents who wrote about ultra provocative things, because I have some of that in my book. I sent an email to Stefanie Wild-Taylor asking who her agent was, and she wrote back and told me- She was very very cool!!!

3. It takes time to really research agents this way, so be patient, but also query agents who you might not be so sure about. It can never hurt. Just because an agent doesn't share your sensibility doesn't mean they don;t know a best seller when they see it. If an agent doesn't think you are a match, I have had agents reject by saying, this book isn't right for me, I personally don't feel strongly enough about it, but I do think it is publishable, you just have to find the right person to represent you.

Stay positive!!!!! Like I have said before, I have a friend who gave up after 10-15 queries, and when I saw who she'd query, I knew they were not right for her genre... If she had believed enough in her work and done a little more research to find the perfect agent, I am pretty darn sure she'd be published now.

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amyashley
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Re: Finding an agent with a sense of humor

Post by amyashley » September 8th, 2010, 2:58 pm

Thanks everyone! This was great advice. Juice, it had never occurred to me to email an author, but it couldn't hurt! I 'm spending more time compiling my agent list than I thought I would! I hope it pays off though. It helps to have the webs these days.

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Re: Finding an agent with a sense of humor

Post by JuiceinLA » September 8th, 2010, 4:14 pm

Hang in there Amy, You'll be fine. Its true what people say about piles of rejections- its equally true that you only need 1 agent to represent you. The 50-100 other rejections, par for the course! Do not worry or be discouraged.

I think its key to read between the lines of the rejections, and learn. It took me about 4 months of researching and querying to realize and learn that the length of my book was such a barrier to entry that I was getting rejected in the second paragraph of my query letter. No one even got to my synopsis because a 170,000 word memoir is absurd.

You'd be surprised how awesome most authors are- and with Ms. Taylor, I already liked her books, so I could gush as a fan too!

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Re: Finding an agent with a sense of humor

Post by djf881 » September 8th, 2010, 5:11 pm

How can writing be funny?
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Re: Finding an agent with a sense of humor

Post by oldhousejunkie » September 9th, 2010, 10:28 am

I agree with Juice....ask your favorite authors who write like you or search their blogs. I found the names of my two favorite authors' agents on their blogs. And since I'm in the same genre as those two authors, I thought it would be worth a try.

Otherwise, the blog idea is good, but also check their websites. I think someone suggested looking for agents who like quirky. I seen quite a few agents mention in their bios that they are looking for quirky or genre-bending books. Yeah, it takes a lot of time, but it's worth it in the end when you query the right agents.

Good luck!

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