Thursday, May 08, 2008

Does an Agent's Gender Matter?

I received a very interesting question recently, one I had never really thought of. A reader asked if choosing an agent is anything like choosing a doctor; do you consider an agent’s gender when submitting or making that final decision? Does it make you more comfortable to think you might have an agent of a certain gender or does the track record and method of doing business trump all of that?

I had never really considered that gender might play into the equation when an author chooses an agent, and I’m not sure why, because there are plenty of times when gender comes into play for us. For example, when choosing which editors to submit a project to, there are plenty of occasions when we feel that maybe a certain book would have greater appeal to male versus female editors or vice versa.

I would imagine that for some people gender might be an issue, whether you consciously realize it or not. Often I preach that choosing an agent is a very personal decision, and in addition to finding a reputable agent it’s important to make your decision based on comfort, and it’s very likely gender could play into that.

But what about readers? When putting together your submission list or when you finally said yes to your agent, did gender play a role? Do you feel your book would appeal to a certain gender agent or editor, and do you prepare your lists accordingly? Or do you think this entire discussion is ridiculous—gender shouldn’t or doesn’t matter at all if the agent is good at his or her job?