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Is AAR membership important in an Agent? : Conversation question • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Is AAR membership important in an Agent?

Every month in Writer's Digest's InkWell section, we pose a question related to the writing life. Tell us your thoughts.
Brian
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Is AAR membership important in an Agent?

Postby Brian » Tue Dec 16, 2008 8:31 am


Brian
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Is AAR membership important in an Agent?

Postby Brian » Tue Dec 16, 2008 8:31 am

In every issue in Writer's Digest's InkWell section, we pose a thought-provoking question related to the writing life. In the February issue, Scott Hoffman details how agents don’t necessarily need to be members of the Association of Authors’ Representatives to be excellent cogs in the literary wheel:

http://www.writersdigest.com/article/is ... gent-legit

When it comes to agents, is AAR membership important to you, and why?

To be part of our monthly Conversation, post your response here by hitting the "reply" button. A few responses may be selected to run in a future "WD" e-newsletter.

Jamesaritchie
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Re: Is AAR membership important in an Agent?

Postby Jamesaritchie » Sat Dec 27, 2008 11:27 am

Is AAR membership absolutely necessary? No, but lack of it certainly casts doubts. Scott Hoffman may be a great agent for all I know, but I also wouldn't go within ten miles of an agent who also does book packaging deals. I've yet to hear even a semi-logical reason for not joining the AAR, and Hoffman certainly doesn't give one in his article.

jrtomlin
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Re: Is AAR membership important in an Agent?

Postby jrtomlin » Sat Dec 27, 2008 3:42 pm

I know several excellent agents who choose not to join the AAR. I go by an agent's sales record.

Have they sold to Baen? How about Tor? How about DAW? How many sales to they have listed in Locus? What is their rating in fantasy sales in Publisher's Marketplace?

If they don't have a sales record in my genre, frankly, whether they're AAR members or not, I don't care to talk to them.

If they have, then why should I care whether they're a "joiner" or not?

So bottom line, frankly, I don't care about AAR membership. There are ways to tell one hell of a lot more about agents than that.

Jamesaritchie
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Re: Is AAR membership important in an Agent?

Postby Jamesaritchie » Sun Dec 28, 2008 10:11 am


jrtomlin
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Re: Is AAR membership important in an Agent?

Postby jrtomlin » Sun Dec 28, 2008 11:53 am

If you want to only consider AAR members that's your choice. I pointed out there is another way of looking at it. The idea of deciding on something as important as an agent based on organization membership doesn't strike me as necessarily wise. *shrug*

There are some well respected agents out there who have chosen for one reason or another not to join AAR. Frequently it's a matter of pure politics which are rife in every such organization.

Edit: Incidentally, being an AAR member doesn't make an agent necessarily desirable or even above board. I rather doubt that you actually think that it does.

They have to have a record of some sales and agree to the Canon of Ethics. While this puts them a substantial step ahead of the worst of the literary agents out there, there are still plenty of things that can go wrong. They can get on the bad side of editors and no longer make sales or they can do a number of things that ARE allowed by the Canon of Ethics which in my opinion are questionable.

So personally I don't rule an agent out because they don't belong to the AAR. But then when I was looking for an agent, I knew far more about the ones I queried than seems to be typical. I knew who their clients were, what they had sold, when they sold it, approximately for how much, and what their clients thought of them. In my opinion, if you're going to hire an agent (your employee, remember) you should find all that out before the fact.

Gladys
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RE: Is AAR membership important in an Agent?

Postby Gladys » Fri Jan 02, 2009 11:12 am

Question to Is AAR membership important in an Agent. I am trying to make a decision to go with Writers Literary Agency. The problem I have is that before they will work with me on my manuscript they want me to have a paid for professional critique of my story. I don't know if I should take the "offer" to manage me or not. I don't know any of the writers they say they have published and have no way of contacting them. Does anyone have any ideas about this agency? Thanks

hexedbird
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Re: Is AAR membership important in an Agent?

Postby hexedbird » Fri Jan 02, 2009 4:12 pm

I've seen scams where an agency says they like your work BUT they want an editor to give it a once over for a nominal fee. They start with a presentation about why this is the way to go. Stay clear of this kind of thing. These kinds of agencies aren't members of AAR and there's a good reason for that.

If an agent likes your work they may make suggestions about rewrites or gve you a tip or two to take you over the next leg of the acceptance process, but these fronts for paid editorial services are generally scams.

jrtomlin
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Re: Is AAR membership important in an Agent?

Postby jrtomlin » Fri Jan 02, 2009 4:42 pm

That is very true. :)

ALWAYS check on agents and you'll avoid a world of hurt.

Gladys, I would start by checking the agency or agent in question with Writers Beware http://www.sfwa.org/Beware/ as well as with Preditors & Editors http://anotherealm.com/prededitors/ . Those two will let you know the reputation and to some extent the sales record of the agency or agent involved.

MonikaM
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Re: Is AAR membership important in an Agent?

Postby MonikaM » Tue Dec 15, 2009 9:22 pm

AAR membership is mandatory for authors, and this is one of the important criteria for agents.

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