Agent Hunter is not, as I first thought, some new software program to help find spyware on your laptop. Rather, it is a useful way of finding the literary agent who will assist you in showing your beautiful mind to (hopefully) an admiring audience.
Launched in March 2013, Agent Hunter is an online database of UK literary agents, agencies and publishers. More to the point, it has a selection of online search tools that reduce the time needed to develop a shortlist of preferred agencies from days to hours.
The Agent Hunter database is claimed to be comprehensive register of all those involved in UK publishing, one which is regularly updated and fact-checked. Laura Wilkins of Writers’ Workshop, which runs the site, comments, “We haven’t just scoured every publicly available source for information on literary agents, agencies and publishers, we’ve approached every agent too – and the response has been really positive.”
Along with contact details, the database includes advice from individual agents as well as information on their personal tastes, together with links to twitter feeds and relevant online articles about or by them. All of which helps when you come to make that all-important first approach.
Of course, the real test for usefulness of such a site is how easy it is to refine the data to get your preferred shortlist. Here Agent Hunter seems to do pretty well. You can narrow your search for an agent by genre, by how many years of experience, how keen they are to recruit new writers, and who they represent already. You can choose to search for a smaller agency (more personal attention) or larger (more clout). And you can save the resulting shortlist in your own account.
Agent Hunter also gives useful advice on the kind of cover letter recommended when approaching an agent (including a template letter), and the synopsis of your manuscript that you need to attach. Another enhancement I liked is the link to the Writers Workshop blog, which gives more information on matters such as how to get published, how to write a book proposal, what agents do (and if you need one), literary agents for new authors, and more.
All in all, the site seems to be a very useful service that brings the power of online search to the task of wading through pages and pages of agent listings. It promises to be a boon, especially to aspiring authors.
The cost of the service seems very reasonable at £12 a year, and even then a ‘Try before you buy’ option enables you to browse the site to see how it works (without accessing real data) for free.
Of course, you still have to write that best-selling novel first …
Agent Hunter comes from The Writers Workshop, who also run the annual Festival of Writing http://www.writersworkshop.co.uk/Festival-of-Writing-2013.html. They can be contacted on 0845 459 9560 or firstname.lastname@example.org