With fewer and fewer publishers looking at unsolicited manuscripts, finding a literary agent for an unpublished novel is an important first step from finished manuscript to publication. However, finding the right literary agent takes some research and persistence. A new web database, http://www.agenthunter.co.uk, aims to make it easier.
It’s obvious that sending a fiction manuscript to a literary agent who only handles non fiction is a waste of time and costs, but finding the right agent takes more effort than simply making a list of agents who handle fiction and sending a copy of a manuscript to each. Agents won’t represent a manuscript they don’t feel fully enthusiastic about or that they can’t sell. Writers have to find an agent that loves their book. Using a search engine to find and browse agents’ websites is time consuming and printed directories can become out of date.
Agent Hunter has an important search facility that allows for searches by genre, likes, dislikes, keywords, who the agent represents, how many clients the agent represents, who the agent represents, how long they’ve been an agent, whether or not the agency is a member of the AAA and whether or not the agent takes email submissions. Writers can search individually, eg for agents who represent thrillers, or for a combination, eg agents who represent thrillers, likes police procedurals and has been an agent for five years or more. Agent Hunter provides tips on how to use the search facilities to make it relevant to the writer. Searches can also be saved so the writer doesn’t have to re-create the search each time they log on. Alternatively, writers can browse the complete list of agents without any filters.
The Agent Hunter search results lists agents by name giving a thumbnail profile that includes a photograph (or silhouette if a photo isn’t available), the length of time the agent has been an agent and a couple of sentences from the agent’s profile. Agents appear in order of first name rather than surname or by the name of the agency. Clicking on the thumbnail profile gives the full profile.
Full profiles gives contact details, agent’s website, blog and twitter links where applicable, whether the agent takes email submissions, a list of who the agent currently represents, a description of the types of book represented and, where provided, a brief description of what the agent is looking for or the books and/or authors they love.
These profile details pull together information in the public domain and information supplied by the agents themselves so the amount of detail varies. I didn’t find a profile that did not give enough information for a writer to be able to make the decision whether or not to submit their manuscript.
There is a subscription fee to use Agent Hunter. However, the alternative is spending hours browsing literary agents’ websites or reading through bulky directories, both options offering incomplete or out of date information. There is no auto renewal so users won’t find themselves will a bill because they forgot to cancel a renewal or locked in to using the site longer than they planned because their subscription was automatically renewed. At the time of review the subscription was £12 or £1 per month.
Agent Hunter’s strength is that it offers a comprehensive directory of literary agents and an easy-to-use search facility, saving writers time. It also offers tips and advice, not only on how to use the site, but also general advice on finding an agent and submitting manuscripts. If you’ve got a complete manuscript and are ready to approach agents, Agent Hunter is definitely worth investigating. It’s also worth reading Harry Bingham’s guest post, How to Find a Literary Agent.
By Emma Lee