Wednesday, 16 October 2013

How to Find an Agent/Publisher – The Easy Way

By JJ Marsh

I know what you’re thinking.
This is misfiled and should be under the Satire section.
Let me explain.

Previously ...

Back in the days when I still wanted a publisher, I knew I needed an agent first. It used to take me a week to trawl through the Writers & Artists Yearbook for my shortlist.

Add several more to research each agent’s likes/dislikes/quirks of submission process, explore their client list, evaluate the agency and shorten the shortlist.

Plus I then needed to tailor each letter accordingly.

After all of that, because I don’t live in the UK, I needed IRCs and SAEs, the obtainment of which was a PIA.

I’m no longer agent/publisher hunting, but many writers are. So what if I told you there’s an easier way to do both?

Agent Hunter

Agent Hunter is a database of all UK literary agents, their agencies and publishers. The database is regularly updated, continually fact-checked, and extremely comprehensive. You can sort the entries on the database to develop your own personal shortlist of agents/agencies and/or publishers.

I’m going guinea-pig.

I’ll start by looking for an agency. I want large (6 agents and upwards) and definitely members of the Association of Authors’ Agents. No more IRC faffing about, either. They have to take email submissions.

Enter above requirements and bingo – 11 agencies, with list of agents, contact details, latest news, submission requirements, and further details – for example, open to foreign authors. Save that search – I’ll need it later.

OK, now to find the right agent. New search and much more opportunity to refine my requirements. I can search for likes/dislikes, number of clients, email subs, other passions, etc. Plus, all the details of how to make a submission and email address.

I write European crime. I want an agent with experience, with a limited list, open to new clients, who likes literary Eurocrime.
I input my details on Agent Hunter and in seconds, have a list of 18 candidates. I can see each one’s client list, blog, Twitter handle and likes/dislikes. Plus, all the details of how to make a submission and email address. Result!

Save that one for future reference and come at it from another angle.

Search for an agent who represents authors who write in a similar genre – Alexander McCall Smith and Kate Atkinson. (Caroline Walsh and Peter Straus respectively, if you’re interested.)

Onto publishers. OK, who accepts unagented submissions? 32 results for smaller/independent houses, 4 major houses, and 15 children’s. All details available, plus guidelines for effective submission.

So, the upshot of my experiment? Agent Hunter is effective, efficient, idiot-proof and a timesaving godsend to the harassed writer. And for twelve quid a year, a bargain.

How much?
Subscription costs £12 a year with a 7-day free trial

Agent Hunter is the creation of The Writers' Workshop, the UK's largest editorial consultancy for new writers.


This is a global site for anyone involved in publishing – a permanent online trade fair.

For writers, service providers, publishers, adaptors, translators, agents and literary scouts, Pubmatch is a kind of online dating agency.If you're unpublished, need a cover designer, just published, need a marketer, published loads already, seeking an international rights agent, looking to sell audio/TV rights, want an illustrator ... they’re all here.

Registering as an author shows you and your books to rights buyers, suppliers and agents around the world. You can also search the network for agents and publishers who work in your genre, find cover designers, search for editors, etc, etc. Particularly handy if you’re going to a trade show, you can organise meetings via the site.

So I gave it a go.

I uploaded my author profile, added my books, lost the entire thing several times (tip: get all your metadata on one doc, including quotes and reviews to facilitate recovery and minimise tooth-grinding). I also created a catalog(ue) of available rights for my books.

I invited a few contacts for meetings at Frankfurt Book Fair (all accepted, which gave me a bit of a shock) and received several invitations, at least two of which look intriguing.

When using the site, I encountered a couple of issues, but both my emails received friendly, helpful replies and solutions within hours. Impressive.

So now I just sit back and wait for the phone to ring ...

How much?
Two possible memberships: FREE or Premium - $79.99.

Alternatively, if you’re a member of The Alliance of Independent Authors, you can take advantage of a special deal – Premium Membership for $9.99

PubMatch is a partnership between Publishers Weekly and The Combined Book Exhibit Family of Companies. Publishers Weekly is an institution in worldwide publishing arena. The Combined Book Exhibit Family of Companies has over a century of experience in the publishing industry - specifically in the arena of trade shows, marketing and connecting publishers for the exchange of ideas.

By JJ Marshauthor, reader, Triskelite, journalist, Nuancer, reviewer and blogger. Likes: pugs, Werner Herzog and anchovies. Dislikes: meat, chocolate and institutionalised sexism. Short story collection out now.