Q: I just purchased the 2008 Guide to Literary Agents. I am an author of three books, all of them published by POD publishers. Looking at the agents' requirements, some only except published authors. I am working on my fourth book and this one I would like to find an agent for. My question is: Shall I tell the agent in my query that I am a published author by POD publishers? I know they want to know how my books are doing, etc.
A: Let me address this in two parts. Some agents indeed will request that "only published authors" query them. Usually, these are established agents who are not "actively" building their client list. Requesting only published authors is their way of trying to eliminate most of the slush that comes in. The best way to get signed by a high-level agent like this is through a referral or meeting them at a conference/retreat.
As for the POD books, sure you can mention them. If I were you, I would mention it at the bottom of your query very briefly (don't even include the titles just yet). That way, you are being upfront about your publishing past, but not drawing a whole lot of attention to it. If you mention your POD books in the first line or two, the agent may stop reading simply because of the stigma that goes along with self-publishing and POD work. Let the agent/editor see your pitch and get hooked. If they are interested enough, your bio details (such as the POD books) will have no effect.
Hope that helps.