Dear Miss Snark:
Does membership in the AAR provide any sort of guarantee that the agent isn't dysfunctional? Off in my world, belonging to the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America is nice, but it's no guarantee that the bookseller has a lick of sense. So, aside from asking for their sales record, checking to see that they subscribe to the AAR code of ethics, and perusing their web site to confirm that there is no obvious idiocy, is there a way to tell if an agent is an idiot? Or, must one learn from sorry and hard experience?
I've already had one "idiot" experience and one experience with a guy on Ann and Victoria's "bad boy" list. I'd like to avoid a repeat. What, oh great and wise Agent, must I do to keep out of the clutches of the dysfunctional?
It's like anything else. Talk to them. Talk to people who work with them. Talk to their clients. Make sure you have an escape clause in your contract.
Yes, we all have bad days. Yes, there are days when I'd like to set a flaming bag of dog poop on client's front doors, as they would mine.
Generally however, when asked about me, my clients will say: 1. she gets back to me promptly when I ask her questions; 2. she answers my questions without making me feel like a dork; 3. she works hard; and 4. I like her. (I know this cause I see the emails sometimes)
Editors will say I'm straightforward, and I do what I say I will.
People at the dog run will tell you I talk on the phone too much and have been known to surreptitiously collect dog poop while chanting what sounds like people's names.
Yes, there are people who have agents they don't like it's true. But I think it's a pretty good measure of dysfunction whether people like to work with you. Really though, like dating and dogs, the only way to know is to run around the reservoir with one on a leash and see how it turns out.