Tag Archives: Julian Barnes

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.


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


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.