A while back I did a piece which mentioned literary agents, and it was plain to me from the comments that finding an agent in the USA must be easier than it is in the UK.
I can't offer any hard data on that, but I think that any UK-based writer who is not yet published is likely to agree that getting an established agent even to read your work is difficult; getting her to take you on as a client is close to impossible. The bigger and better the agency, the more this is true. For the top firms, the ratio is something like 500 rejections to 1 acceptance at best.
In the USA, however, the book market is four or five times bigger than the UK's, and it is spread over a far vaster geographical area. In the UK, with a handful of exceptions, all leading agents are based in London, and everybody knows everybody else. An agent in Sunderland or Wigan is not going to be taken seriously by anyone. But in the US most major cities seem to have a sprinkling of agents, and the West Coast seems to me to have plenty of firms which rival those in New York. So perhaps there is more opportunity for people to set up shop as agents with some sort of credibility, even if they aren't known names.
All of that being said, this post is simply to advise you to choose your agent with care, wherever you live. Publishers Lunch provides a link to a report about a 'literary agent' who was not only in it for the money but used deliberate fraud as a standard operating procedure. By name, Martha Ivery.
Ms Ivery, it transpires, took $700,000 dollars from 200 would-be authors. That's -- lemme see, punches calculator -- $3,500 a head, on average. Look, I know people are keen to get published, but this is ridiculous.
And on top of that, Martha Ivery seems not to have been a very nice person. A.C. Crispin, a Maryland author who helped to unmask her through the Writer Beware web site, says 'This case, unlike the other ones we followed, really got personal. She made death threats to us, and stalked us online. I plan to go to the sentencing.'