I don't have a lot of advice to give about finding an agent, since all I did was follow the advice of countless other blogs and articles out there: I researched some agents, I wrote a query letter, and found an agent.* That makes it sound easy, and it's not. But (in my opinion) finding an agent is like doing pushups--it's not complicated, it's just hard.
But I was interested to see this post by Maya Reynolds on choosing the right agent, because I think she's dead on here. I queried a lot of agents during my search. A LOT. Many. And from their responses (both positive and negative) I learned that there are some agents out there who it is better if I don't work with. Not because they are bad agents, or are unprofessional,** but because our working styles would not mesh well.***
Let me explain: right from the beginning, before I even accepted an offer of representation (hell, before he even made an offer), Agent Ted explained that he was a hands-on agent. He had suggestions for The Book. He had ideas about the market. He wanted to hear my reactions to his suggestions and ideas. This does not bother me. In fact, this is part of the reason why I accepted his offer--because I felt that his honesty about his thoughts about The Book, and the value of his suggestions, and his manner of expressing those suggestions indicated that he and I would work well together. So far, that's been the case.****, *****
But I know that there are writers out there for whom Agent Ted's methods would be problematic. Just like I know from my interactions with certain agents that their methods would not work for me. That's what Maya's post is about--choosing someone who you feel like you can work with for the long term. Once you get out of the realm of scam artists and into the realm of legitimate agents, it's really all about fit. Do you and your work fit with this particular agent and agency? And that's a personal decision. To throw another analogy out there: finding an agent is like finding a good pair of jeans: a style or brand that works for me may not work for you. Gap jeans make my butt look awesome, but you may need Diesels, or Luckys, or Apple Bottoms, so you need to shop around a little before you buy. A good pair of jeans is priceless.
* Check the links on the side of this blog for agents and editors who blog. Those blogs are good place to get an idea what agents expect, and to get a feel for their individual personalities.
**Almost without exception, every agent I've had contact with has been very professional.
***I know this sounds like a contradiction from my earlier post where I said that I wouldn't expect an editor to like me or me to like her in order to work together, but it's not. I don't have to like my agent (although I do!), I have to be able to work well with him. Those things aren't the same.
****World Domination starts in 2009!
*****Agent Ted rules, by the way, and you should totally query him or his agency if you write their kind of stuff.