Like many bloggers out there, I’ve written a book. In fact, if I’m being honest, I started this blogging malarkey so that one day, when I’ve been snapped up by a publisher, I’ll have a route to promote it. Blogging kind of took over though and I ended up falling in love with the platform regardless of whether the book followed or not.
Anyway, back to the book…The problem I’ve got is that most publishers only accept submissions from agents, and getting an agent is easier said than done.
My book is about twins and multiple births. I’ve adopted a unique angle for it, so I’m confident it has a place in the current market of similar titles. I’ve created a detailed proposal, a killer cover letter and I’ve honed and refined the first few chapters. I’ve touted my project to a few agents and have received great feedback. Unfortunately, one agent who really liked it already had an author on her books writing on the same subject and didn’t feel able to represent me as it presented a conflict of interest. The others were incredibly positive too but felt the particular niche wasn’t for them.
I’ve read and re-read my dog-eared copy of the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook. Finding agents that are interested in non-fiction is time consuming, let alone finding ones that will consider a parenting book. I was just about to begin researching online databases when I received an email from Agent Hunter asking if I’d like to review their online database of literary agents*. I know a lot of fellow bloggers are struggling authors like me, so I thought it would make an interesting review for my blog.
On Agent Hunter you can search out agents looking for a particular genre, by their level of experience, by how many clients they represent, by the name of the agent or agency and, most importantly, by their status. By this I mean you can search for agents that are actively looking to sign new clients. Agents temporarily shut their books when they reach a certain target, so having access to this information is really useful to avoid wasting your time and theirs. You can also search for keywords, search for things the agent likes or dislikes, find agents who attend festivals and search for agents who blog and are on Twitter.
It’s possible to save searches, so you can build different lists which you can come back to the next time you log in. You can also click to see an overview of the agency a particular agent works for, and see the other agents attached to the same company. This is useful if you want to approach a particular agency but aren’t sure which agent is most suitable.
First of all, I did a few keyword searches just as a random test. When I searched for an agent who liked ‘travel’ it gave back three results, ‘cookery’ threw up one result and ‘Italy’ gave back no results. This doesn’t mean agents weren’t interested in these subjects, just that they hadn’t specified these interests.
For my search, I was able to fit my book into the ‘Other non fiction’ category and search by agents who were ‘keen to build client list’. Unfortunately that was as far as I could narrow my results, as keywords for parenting, babies, twins etc. didn’t show any results. I wasn’t expecting the database to be able to cover every single subject matter that exists in the world though, so just being able to narrow it down to agents interested in non fiction was a great start. I now have 62 agents to work through!
I’ve project managed data driven websites before and I know how complicated they can be behind the scenes. I can see a lot of work has gone into it. There are photos against most of the agents, each record has plenty of data against it and the data feels up to date and relevant. The records tell you how to submit, number of clients, client list and more, giving you all of the information you need to make an informed judgement about who to approach and how to approach them.
In terms of feedback, the one thing I really wish it could do is export data to Excel. I’d love to be able to take my list of 62 agents, narrow it down, make some notes about each agent and log when I sent my pitch to them. At present I don’t believe there is a way to do this other than copying and pasting to create your own list.
If you’re not sure whether it’s for you, you can create a free account and do some searches for free (you’ll get back restricted data but at least you can see if it will be useful for you). If you pay to subscribe but cancel within seven days you can get a full refund. It sounds like a pretty good guarantee to me.
Overall, I think it’s a really great site and I’m looking forward to seeing how things develop with it.
Anyway, I’d better go. I’ve got 62 records to work my way through. Wish me luck!
PS If you happen to be an agent looking for a parenting book aimed at a growing market of people expecting multiples, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org as I’d love to tell you all about my project!
* I was provided with an annual subscription to Agent Hunter (worth £12) free of charge in return for writing an honest review. All opinions are my own.