How do you find a literary agent?

Um, I know you guys think Agent Hunter is awesome, but I don’t… and two links under one heading, seriously? Was this just bunged in and not checked? Because to me under “How do you find a literary agent?” it kind of implies – you don’t need to find out how to find one, just do it.

Also, Agent Hunter is an external site rather than a wing of Writers’ Workshop. Whenever I’m linked to an external site I have a dubious moment of questioning its quality. To help stun the readers (well, writers) of the site into an Agent Hunter appreciating dumbness, a little bit of promotional logoing could help to make the outsourcing look more professional. An image link, for example.

AgentHunter

How do you find a literary agent?

In this section, the thing that smacks me inthe face is that it’s huge. I mean really, really big. You just won’t believe how mindbogglingly big it is.

(*glances at the scroll bar*)

And, as I start to read it I’m already mentally dividing it up into subsections of advice. There is a lot of information on this page and, despite subheadings and well applied internal linking, it’s not easy to scan and search.

I’m a writer! I don’t want to read all day! I want to get down and write!

It’s important to remember that writers use sites like this to procrastinate, but that also means it’s the job of the site not to completely absorb them so they ​do​ go back to writing – enthused and inspired by what they have read, of course.

Worse, some insane attempt has been made throughout this post to introduce plot twists and anticipation. “More on this subject a little later. ” … “[T]here’s only one tricky part to the entire process” followed by a massive list… SO WHAT IS THE TRICKY BIT??? (actually, having read the whole thing I’m still not sure what this is a reference to, although I could hazard a guess).

I do like the friendly, funny, personable, encouraging tone of the article. “Present your manuscript in a way that won’t make agents scream”, “Light candles, tie a black cat into a knot – and go for it. Get your manuscript out there. See what happens” – but no plot twists, please.

TEH Awesome Advice on this Page

Advice which makes me go “The Fuck?”

  • Shameless Agent Hunter plugs, telling us it’s great, but not how it betters other services.
  • “[U]sing …Twitter feeds and other ‘gut feel’ type criteria to make the final selection” IS THIS SOMETHING I AM SUPPOSED TO KNOW ABOUT???
  • “5) Write a good query letter” and “6) Write a good synopsis”. These headers make me scream. Out loud. In front of people. It’s valid to tell a writer to just write a good book: we’ve been reading and writing for years to acquire these skills. But “Write a good synopsis” following a description of what a synopsis is and nothing oin how to actually do it? Give me “How to Nail a Query Letter”or “Spot the Difference: Good Query Letters and Bad” (because lots and lots of examples really are the best way to learn. And these can be invented or lifted from agents’ blogs and archives).
  • “Some agents are prickly about being nudged” – others, it should add, like to be nudged if they haven’t got back to someone. It keeps them on their toes and sometimes there are genuine reasons like manuscripts gone astray or A NUMPTY AUTHOR WHO FORGOT TO INCLUDE AN SAE.
  • The beginning is repeated, badly, in a final paragraph. Why?

How to Get a Literary Agent – video

I don’t know if it’s my 5 windows and 11 tabs, but this video keeps freezing, yet the other two I watched earlier were completely fine.

Again, it’s pretty dark and externally linked, but does contain some gem lines like “If you’re writing a novel, don’t sent it to an agent who only handles cook books”.

How to Get an Agent (Without Dying of Old Age)

A more detailed guide to finding agents – but a shorter article. Tone isn’t sacrificed, but it’s a much more user-friendly length. I actually find myself reading along here and getting absorbed, forgetting that a)I have probably already read this and b) I am supposed to be reviewing it.

I disagree with some of the points, though: “no space between paragraphs and with the first line slightly indented” – I’ve heard different things from different agencies (templates on Agent Hunter?). And the query examples, whilst good, are not up to a competitive standard of usefulness.

Plus there is, of course, the obligatory formatting insanity: “Step 4. Select your targets2011-11-162011-11-16” …? ….? What?

On the other hand, the sell for “Existing WW clients” is pretty good (unlike shameless Agent Hunter plugs). It made me go and look up prices and services anyway.

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About RowenaFW

I am a Fish. But you wouldn't know it just from looking at me.
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One Response to How do you find a literary agent?

  1. Pingback: Meeting Literary Agents and Other Matters | Potato Skin Belt

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