Tag Archives: Agent Hunter

advice from a fellow traveller …

DSCF1016Please excuse any odd spellings.  Most of this post went down the drain first time around when WordPress threw a wobbly and I then (unintentionally) slammed my finger in the door.  I am typing with one digit less than usual and considerably fewer marbles.   I am not entirely convinced that the digital world is my friend.  I am beginning to wonder if it is one of those baddies in Sci Fi stories like V or The Kraken Wakes who comes across all nice and friendly and helpful and then stabs you in the back whilst you are lulling in a nice comfy sense of false security.

The arrival of the new laptop has caused no end of problems with the transfer and subsequent loss of essential emails.  I have a full complement of Viagra/online business opportunities/website promotion deals.  But the helpful ones with offers of work and so forth disappeared faster up their own backsides than Daniel Day Lewis at the Oscars.  Attempting to transfer my iTunes library has resulted in several broken nails, five terrified cats and dogs that can now swear in several languages.

Thus it is, I feel, a little ironic that the post I intended to write was about online resources.  Those that I have found helpful as I string word to word, creating sentences and paragraphs in the hope that somebody, somewhere will offer me a reasonable income if I continue along the same lines.

So, in the spirit of triumph of hope over experience I offer you the following:

  •  The Writers’ Workshop – Critiques, rich seams of advice and information and the excellent Agent Hunter (see my review here).  They also run the annual Festival of Writing in York every September.  I told it is superb, I am hoping to go this year.  If you are going and want to hold my hand because I am a pathetic wimp please let me know.
  •  Nicola Morgan – I wish I was on commission.  I have recommended her books and her website to everyone, even people who don’t write (well they might one day).  She is the ex-Crabbit Old Bat.  I don’t mean she is no longer crabbit or and old bat (for all I know she was never actually either), but she has moved her website to here.  However, the old site is still up and is a treasure trove.  She has also written several excellent books and I swear by her book on how to write a synopsis.  If anyone can make a trial of Hercules into a Brownie Badge it is she.
  •  Authonomy – personally I can’t stand it which I suppose makes it odd that I have included it.  But I know that thousands of people think it is the bees knees, and what makes me tick might send you into paroxysms of rage.  I leave you to make your own decision.
  •  Slush Pile Hell – every time you think you cannot string two words together go here.  Read. Relax
  •  The Word Den – I like words.  If you write I presume you do too.
  •  The Queen’s English Society – if you don’t have your copies of  The Elements of Style  (mine is a much nicer hardback copy btw) and The Complete Plain Words  (mine is a much older, more battered edition that saw me through two degrees and a thesis now incomprehensible to me) to hand then this is a reasonable online alternative.
  •  Myslexia – the online home of the excellent magazine.

There is much more out there, I have plenty of other sites saved in my bookmarks.  But these are the ones to which I return.  Even Authonomy but only for a laugh.

The picture at the top?  I took it at The Wave, before the Copenhagen summit.  It’s what I look at before I write, every time.

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Agent Hunger

The title is not a typo, it is the feeling you get when you finally hit “save” (or put down your pen).  Relief that the novel is finally finished is tempered by the realisation that the job is not over yet, there is still a synopsis and a covering letter to compose.  But whilst these are fiendish little obstacles they are not insurmountable.  (For advice on both you can do no better than seek the advice of the Crabbit Old Bat)

What does, however, often appear insurmountable is the acquisition of an agent.  Consequently there are books and directories littering the floors and laptops of every new writer.  Highlighter pens and notes are essential tools.  Whether you scatter them liberally over your desk, have them ordered in a top of the range Filofax or catalogued in an extensive database, you will have them.   You will read biographies and author lists.  The latter are both encouraging and terrifying.

Do you want to be represented by the same agent as Julian Barnes? Yes please, but then would an agent with an illustrious client base even look at my covering letter and what if I bumped into Julian Barnes in the corridor? Perhaps I would be better with somebody new, looking to bolster their list.  But would they know what they are doing?  I certainly don’t.  Endless questions, which lead to more questions and by then the notes pile is attracting the attention of the planning department.

This brings us neatly to Agent Hunter, which is a pretty good treatment for chronic and acute Agent Hunger.  Created by The Writers’ Workshop it is one of the most comprehensive agent databases I have seen and I have crawled through quite a few.

Nice straightforward layout.  No digging around to find the search button.

Publication1

I’m looking for an agent interested in writing for children and YA.    Eek 100 agents.

Publication2

At this stage you can start to filter by experience, client list size and so forth.  But in all honesty I’m not sure this works for me.  Some of the agents I have approached have been from big agencies but are young agents, some have been established agents working alone.  It’s down to the person rather than their circumstances.  So I had to find another filter.

Client List Status  is a bit deceptive and can be rather a good filter.  The status is automatically set to “open to new clients” if the agent did not respond to the question.  Filtering out all but “Keen to build new client list” halved my list of agents and made it far more manageable and guaranteed that anybody I sent my MS was actively interested in recruiting new clients.

However 53 agents is still quite a lot.  So I took a punt and put “Time Travel” in the  Agent Likes”  filter.  One agent only.  But the more I read the more I thought this is the one.

In this case the agent had answered all the questions fully, with plenty of information about what she was and was not looking for.  To be fair, not all agents have done this and some have clearly responded with standard information which has had to be extrapolated in order to answer the standard questions.  However, most have entered into the spirit of the exercise.  After all it is in their interests not to be swamped with work, however wonderful, that is outwith their area.

So what do you get when you finally narrow it down to the agent information.  Quite a lot:

  • Agency (with option to toggle to Agency info page for agent selected)
  • Number of years as an agent
  • Biography
  • Client List status
  • Number of clients
  • Authors and books liked
  • Other loves and passions
  • How to make a submission
  • Advice and Dislikes
  • Where you can meet this agent (Writers conferences etc.)
  • Blog?
  • Twitter profile
  • Interesting links
  • Full client list
  • Email address

And best of all – a photograph.  It may seem silly, but to have a picture of the person you are approaching does make them less scary!

I was provided with free registration in return for a review.  However, at £12 per annum I think it is excellent value for money and an essential screwdriver in any writer’s toolbox.