1. Google both the agent’s name, i.e. Joe Smith, literary agent, as well as the full agency name, Joe Smith Literary Agency. The agent name might show you Q&A interviews and articles written by the agent, which of course is incredibly helpful for learning more about their personality, working style, and likes and dislikes. Delving several pages deep into the Google hits might also reveal more unusual information that could be useful.
2. Check out Jeff Herman’s Guide to Literary Agents. The book retails at $40, but you can just flip through it at the bookstore. It can also be found at the library as a reference and for check out. This guide has Q&A interviews with top agents, but with more off-the-wall questions to show different facets of their personalities than you would otherwise get on their Web site.
3. Read the book excerpts on Amazon.com of novels the prospective agent has represented. This gives a sense of what style of writing appeals to them as well as the genre.
4. Make note of what conferences the agent has recently attended. This information is usually found on the agent’s Web site, but a Google search will get you some hits. If an agent attends a Romance Convention, you’ll know she takes that genre. In addition, this will tell you if they are willing to travel, and how far.
5. Writer’s Market Online (www.writersmarket.com) and the Guide to Literary Agents Web site (http://www.guidetoliteraryagents.com/) are also additional resources to consider.
6. The Association of Author’s Representatives (AAR) Web site (www.aar-online.org) will tell you whether they are a full-fledged member (if this info is unclear on their Web site or they have no Web site).
7. Some Google hits might pop up with blog entries or even a writer’s forum where newbie writers talk about how quickly the agent sends rejections, etc. These are invaluable! And you can even post your own questions asking whether a particular agent is professional, worth the trouble, etc.
8. Media Bistro apparently has incredibly insightful articles and Q&A’s about agents, but you have pay to read the articles, and I’ve been too cheap to do that thus far.
9. Of course, the agent’s Web site is the best/easiest place to gather info, but a lot of times these sites are woefully out of date. It always pays to seek a variety of sources that will give you a more well-rounded approach and hopefully help you find that perfect match.