Here are some more questions regarding agents:
Where do I find a good agent? Agents as well as editors attend large writers’ conferences looking for new clients. Conferences such as Colorado Christian Writers and Write-to-Publish are excellent places to sit down and actually talk to an agent. It’s important to find an agent who is passionate about what you write. They won’t be able to sell your material to a publishing house if they don’t believe in your project.
How do I know if agents are doing their job? Once you have signed with an agent, they should keep you informed of any activity on your proposals. They should tell you what houses they have sent them to and the responses of those houses. Normally all correspondence between you and your agent as well as your agent and the publishing houses is done by e-mail. Therefore there should not be any upfront costs for you to pay.
How is my agent paid? Your royalty checks will probably be sent directly to your agent. That way they can look over your statements and make sure they are accurate. The agent takes 15%, and sends you a check for the balance. Also when an agent is negotiating a contract for you, they can usually get a better deal than you can. And of course they want the best deal they can get, since they gets 15% of your advance and royalty checks.
If you have a new idea and happen to be at a conference where you can talk to editors or publishers, take advantage of that situation. Keep in mind your agent is representing as many as a hundred clients, and you are only representing you!