It came as something of a relief to me that Agent Hunter is actually really good. It makes this post easier and makes things a whole lot easier for querying writers. And so...
Agent Hunter (www.agenthunter.co.uk) is a new project from The Writers' Workshop, overseen by Harry Bingham. The Writers' Workshop offers a lot - critiques, info on publishing, an annual Festival of Writing in York - and it's a natural step, really, to agency listings. Agent listings already exist, though, on sites like QueryTracker and Writers' & Artists' - so what's Agent Hunter got that's so brand spanking new?
AH's real strength, and the thing that had me explaining excitedly to my wife why it was quite so interesting, is the search feature for UK agents and agencies. The parameters you can choose from are useful, creative, and give you a solid, usable list of agents who fit your book. You can narrow down the list by searching for such things as
- Agent Experience
- Client List
- Opportunities to meet
- Agency Size
- AAA membership
- E-mail submissions
and more. The fact Twitter's on there tells you a lot. The lists seems up to date and easily personalised. You can save searches, and search by agents' 'likes' and 'dislikes' by adding keywords. One small quibble I found while playing around with that: keywords need to be more than three letters, so 'fairy' was fine, but searching for agents on the lookout for books about 'war' was a no-go.
Searching for 'Children's fiction' and selecting agents on Twitter, with a blog, from a small agency quickly led me to a list that, sure enough, included plenty of names I recognized that fit the bill. There are plenty of genre options to search from, making it less likely agents will get clumped together under such broad terms as 'Kids books' - a real bonus.
Agents' profiles - often with accompanying photo - seem pretty standard, bringing together publicly available knowledge for convenience. That includes links to social media and blogs, as well as clients, submission requirements, and likes and dislikes - and that last one is AH's unique info, sought from agents and not found elsewhere. Having it all in one place is definitely good for writers. There's also additional info that's not strictly professional but that querying writers might love, such as 'Other loves and passions' (apparently Molly likes memoirs by clever people and cheese, so there you go).
The site charges an annual subscription of £12 - hardly a princely sum, but enough that writers will want to see it justified. Is AH worth the cost? Well, that's up to individuals, but I honestly think it might be. I've never seen agent listings with such an impressive search tool, and the content is clearly up to date, both on an agency and an agent level. There's room for improvement, I'm sure - perhaps a message board for writers to share information on their submission status, or more direct links to articles on how to write covering letters and other aspects of querying (currently in the FAQ section, via The Writers' Workshop).
I love writer community, and I love seeing it made easier for agents and writers to come together. So, Agent Hunter gets my vote - and I'll inevitably play around with it some more (I have a year, don't I?). Look out for an update if and when. For now, if you're a writer looking for an agent - good luck!