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Chapter 9: Hunting Agents in the wild

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I'm at that tricky time in a debut novelist's career when the subject of 'agents' looms up on the horizon. "You need an agent," they say. And then it gets scary. Do I need one? Aren't they just for the big guys? Where do they hang out? How do I go about snaring one? And it goes on. Like most writers at all levels of their careers, I have a well-thumbed copy of the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook sitting on my shelf. I buy one every two years, but it's impossible for a printed list to  remain up to date when human beings will insist on changing jobs, closing lists, etc. It's so selfish of them! So while the Yearbook is great for contact details and a rough idea of what agents don't want, you still have to look up each individual website searching for the right info and (if you'll excuse my language) it takes flipping ages! Then a friend said, "try Agent Hunter." "Who?" I said. "www.agenthunter.co.uk" they said! So I did. And here's my review: Curated by the folk at Writers' Workshop, Agent Hunter is the most useful resource I've found so far and would recommend it to anyone seriously looking for an agent. The search filters are really useful, enabling the hunter to select by genre, size of agency and (most useful of all) whether their lists are actually open! Every literary agent in the UK is covered, and for each agent and/or agency there is lots of information on what they're interested in, tips and guidelines for submissions, contact details, personal background and history or (and equally useful) they even tell you if they know very little info about that agent...honesty, how refreshing! You can then save searches, build a favourites list and find up-to-date info, which the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook - while it's an essential guide - can't really compete with. In many cases, I found there was even more info about an individual on Agent Hunter than there was on their own company website. It's not a free service, but subscriptions start at only £6 for 1 month or you can go right up to the most expensive Platinum package for 12 months where you can even get your cover letter, synopsis and the opening chunk of your novel reviewed. I went for the Gold Package; the most popular one costing £27 for 12 months. I found it very user friendly and have been able to easily put together a list of half a dozen agents that I might have half a chance with. It's saved me days of work. Of course, Agent Hunter can't guarantee to secure you that elusive deal, but they've saved me hours and hours of hair-pulling stress and wasted submissions. Try them for yourself. I'll let you know if one of them agents bites!

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