Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Agent Hunter, A Review

A while back, I received a rather generous six month trial of the Agent Hunter service in return for the promise that I'd deliver an honest write-up of my thoughts here on the blog.  Agent Hunter, if you haven't come across it, offers more or less what it describes: it's a searchable database of literary agents, bolstered with a few interesting extras, not unlike what Duotrope's Digest is for short fiction.  Anyway, it's taken me a regrettably long time to gather my thoughts, but here's me keeping my word.

In the interests of honesty, I should probably begin by admitting that I didn't use the service all that much, partly because I wasn't blown away by the brief time I initially spent with it and didn't do any proper investigation until the last day of my subscription, so that I could make this write-up as fair as possible.  At that point I realised how wrong I'd been - or perhaps how much the service had evolved in six months, since a few problems with searches that I remembered encountering seemed to have altogether vanished.  Anyway, the more I dug into Agent Hunter, the more impressed I was.  It does most of what you'd hope, offering a plethora of comprehensive-seeming data in a way that's quick and easy to access, via a front end that's glossy, functional and straightforward to come to grips with.

Good data is, of course, worthless without a solid search engine, and Agent Hunter's is definitely that.  You can refine the quest for your perfect agent by  things like career length and whether they keep a social media presence, as well as through a particularly detailed list of genres and sub-genres.  The options are not so great for agencies, which is slightly strange, and for publishers they're barely rudimentary - but then the fact that there's a database of publishers at all is a pleasant surprise that I wasn't expecting, and one that practically warrants the price of entry alone.  Still, it would be nice to see this fixed; given what's on offer elsewhere, there's no question but that it could be done.

Rounding out the package, there's a page with some perhaps slightly dubious advice - I'd propose that you certainly don't have to have an agent to sell fiction professionally - that's made up for by the excellent bonus of a blog full of essays and interviews, which I only stumbled across at the last minute, having decided that was precisely what would be needed to elevate the site from good to great.  Compared with its closest competitor, the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook, the site certainly wins out, for my money.  Having an electronic database, in this day and age, is vastly more practical, and there's also much to be said for their emphasis on helping authors weed out the less committed agents from those who are serious and active.  There's no pretense here that all agents are equally capable and valuable, which is a useful lesson to place front and centre.

I'll finish by pointing out that Agent Hunter is very reasonably priced, at £12 for six months and £18 for a year.  There's also the agreeable option to just subscribe for a month, which should be more than enough time to gather the information you need if you're able to focus some serious time on the process.  Lastly, for £145, you can also receive a critique of your submissions package; obviously I have no idea how good this would be, but the level of quality evinced elsewhere leads me to think that it might well be a worthy investment.  At any rate, the cost for a year is distinctly on the cheap side - take note, Duotrope's Digest!  All told then, a service I'm happy to recommend without hesitation, and one 

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