First, I swung by Janet Reid's blog today. She has a pop quiz for writers looking for agents. Three questions, pretty darn firmly tongue-in-cheek. Personally, the first two are easy, but the third threw me a little. I read it and thought, "None of those seem particularly good options." The question inquired as to whether it's appropriate to call a publisher for an agent's name if one couldn't find it in the dedication or acknowledgements page of a book. As Reid informs us, though, the answer is absolutely none of the above.
Never call a publisher to learn the name of an author's agent.
When it comes to using an agent's name found in the acknowledgements: (all IMHO)
I have heard the advice that writers looking for agents to query can use this as a method--find books in your genre/style (for example, humorous urban fantasy) and look at the dedication and/or acknowledgements page for an agent's name. I don't think this is bad advice, but at the same time, I think it behooves the querying writer to be careful in comparing themselves to the book from which they found the agent's name. I've heard that since agents can't take on too many writers (yay economy/sarcasm), they might not want someone who points out their work is exactly like Already Acquired New Writer X.
Also, one might rethink if the published author is really well-known--if JK Rowling's agent is looking for new writers, and your work fits what they're looking for, go ahead, but then comparing yoursef to Rowling... ~shrugs~ My feeling is, go ahead and look for an agent by checking out books by writers whose work is similar to yours, but there's no need to compare yourself (general you, of course), or mention you got their name from so-and-so's book.
Anyway, my two cents, once again. (Where and when did two cents become equated with one's opinion like this? I wonder.)
Happy Monday everyone,