And What If I Don’t Know the Genre of My Novel?

I”ve been asked to trial Agent Hunter and write up a review of how I find it and what could be done to improve it. Great! I thought. This will be exciting and not too much work.

Well…

It”s fair to say me and the Agent Hunter website are not the best of friends right now. A list of agents comes up, several of them with nice pictures at the side, which is generally pleasing. However, there are at least 10 pages and I am not going to wade through, especially as without opening every record all I can see about the agents is their number of clients, when they became an agent and the start of a line about the agent which trails off before you can read anything. No agency name, genres read, comments on whether they are accepting manuscripts right now and how fond they are of new authors (to me – the useful stuff).

So, I swim my cursor over to the eye-catching search bar. There are an awful lot of additional options which must be useful to somebody I guess, not that whether an agent keeps a blog is a good prerequisite for selecting them in my opinion – it”s something I would want to know once I had whittled down the possibilities because at that point a blog would be great for snooping *ahem* gaining further insight into the appropriateness of my selections.

There is a “likes” box, so I type “new authors” into it, but alas this is not a search criterion, and “No records found, please expand your search.” bounces onto my screen. There is a small “i” by the box and hovering my mouse above it suggests I should be typing “noir”, “ballet” or “Scotland” in, none of which are appropriate to my book.

…Apparently nobody likes “trauma”.

Possibly I should start with the more standard search options.

Tricky, as I”m not entirely sure what genre to pitch my book at and there doesn”t seem to be an audience tab. Oh, selecting genre brings up lists divided by audiences. So I navigate to “Adult Fiction” and ambitiously select “Literary Fiction”, “General Fiction”, “Crime, thriller, action”, “Fantasy”, “Horror” and “Science Fiction”, which has to be a pretty exhaustive representation of a single novel.

“No records found, please expand your search.”

I”m not sure what Agent Hunter has against me, but I feel that after selecting six adult fiction genres I deserve at least one literary agent to appear.

Maybe, I think it only comes up if I select ALL of the genres on each agent”s list, or maybe ALL of the genres on their list, but NO OTHERS.

I selected all genres under Adult Fiction.

“No records found, please expand your search.”

Oh, for fuck”s sake.

So being more reserved, I gave just “Crime, thriller, action” the tick. To no avail.

“No records found, please expand your search.”

I”m beginning to wonder whether the search tool is actually functioning today, or somebody is working on it.

Selecting no genres, by the way, commits a Fatal Error.

Okay, I am not sure whether someone has stopped tinkering about with the search bar or I”ve found the magic formula, but I selected email submissions, it reloaded fine, so I selected “Crime, thriller, action” and it worked, so I deselected email submissions and now I actually have a list of agents. I still can”t find anything out about them without opening their profiles and there are still more than 10 pages of them. I really want to search by accepting new manuscripts and liking new authors though.

“Keen to build client list”, “Open to new clients” and “List largely complete” are options, but I can”t select more than one (either of the first two would suit me fine). And nothing on new authors.

Well, if nothing else my page count has shrunk to 9.

Those agents who have put up pictures are largely very young and less experienced, I notice.

I”m disappointed on opening a few that they don”t say anything about accepting new authors, nor even list the genres they like (so I”m kind-of-worrying that if there are no genre preferences by the agents they come up under all searches and this is not good from my perspective!).

After a bit of reading through lengthy profiles I do find one saying they like new clients, but still being unsure about the genre I would definitely go to the agency site and look for which agent would be best to send my particular work to – I don”t want to find an agent who is “okay” with crime books because mine might be a bit offbeat for crime; I”d rather find an agent who loves thrillers and sell it as a thriller.

Yay! I”ve made it work – defeated the evil computer elves trying to return me over and over again to the same unreasonable error message.

But, if I”m honest, I”d rather use the spreadsheet on the Writer”s Workshop (Agent Hunter“s parent site), which I”ve used before and shows me all the information in a row of cells at a glance. I can ctrl f and search it faster and more effectively, I can tag things to come back to later and use my own colour-coding to remind me quickly how much I liked that agent. Besides, there is a column of personal recommendations for friendly agents – that gives me confidence.

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