I plan to start my search by narrowing down my list to agents who accept email queries, not because I'm lazy and don't want to spend the money for postage, but because I suspect that tech-savvy agents will have the 21st century tools to promote I, Driven: memoir of a teen's involuntary commitment.
Obviously, I want someone who will work hard for my book and advocate for its sale.
Also, I will consider only AAR agents, not because I think all non-AAR agents are crooks; however, this field is overrun by scammers who prey on writers, and they tend not to belong to AAR, so putting such a requirement in place is just another safeguard.
I have read the warnings on various sites about faux agents like Melanie Mills (who has died several deaths and all kinds of devastating maladies, which is why she has left the building with her clients' money). I don't have time (and certainly not the money) to deal with people like that.
Also, before querying anyone, you can be sure I'll be checking each agent out, just to make sure that
- There are no significant writer warnings against that agent.
- They actually represent my kind of book.
- They as individuals don't have too many clients (In other words, a large firm is okay).
- They are excited about my book. I figure that it's pointless to work with someone who is just lukewarm about my work.
I'll also look on their sites and blogs to get a feel for how they operate. Some agents have placed personal statements on their sites--not a perfect way of vetting agents, but a help.
I'll be keeping a blog diary about my search, though I won't be naming names.