A recent chat we had on the #WritersRoad inspired me to write this post to help those writers who are currently querying or will be soon. When researching agents to query or pitch to, I often research who their clients are and what they say about them. This is an important part of the process for me because it reveals a lot. Having been agented before, this time around I was very careful in who I chose to even approach because I wanted it to be the right agent, the kind I'd have likely for the rest of my career. It's all about a great match with someone who is passionate about your work.
Beyond that, you need an agent whose working style meshes well with yours. You must know if you want an editorial/developmental agent or one who takes your highly polished work and barely changes it. You must also know if you want an agent with a strong online presence, and/or one that attends a lot of literary functions like BEA, RT, RWA events, etc. Figure out if you want a new agent vs. an experienced one. Both have advantages and disadvantages. New agents will have a smaller client list, giving them more time to interact with you. However, they may just be establishing themselves in the industry and may not have all the contacts a more experienced agent will have. Decide before hand if you want an agent for just the one book/series, or for your entire career. While you'll likely sign for the one book/series, you'll know from talking to them whether or not they are interested in more from you.
The most important thing to know is that you don't want just any agent, you want the right agent. Do your research before and after you query. When they offer representation don't immediately say yes. Ask questions about their style, their plans for your book and you. Remember that the wrong representation is worse than no representation at all.