Do you need an agent? And what do they do?

This part 1 of the Literary Agents Advice Centre review of Writer”s Workshop. I just reviewed their website Agent Hunter and been asked to do more.

I decided to review the Advice Centre section by section for easier reading. Each section consists of multiple pages linked to from the main page under subheadings, such as:

Do you need an agent? And what do they do?

Do I need a literary agent?

Yes.

Handily, the sections starts by posing and answering a question before delving into an in-depth discussion on why. If I was just looking for a quick answer, I”ve got it.

Unfortunately, it isn”t all so audience-based, and the bit you will want to read next is the second half, which lists which kinds of books need representation, and which it”s best to do without (plus those tricky middle-ground items!). Luckily the writing, whilst fluid, is not particularly story-like, and the structure is pretty clear, such that it”s easy to skip through to sections you want with ease and not read the weird bits.

The first section is a bit weird. The title asks if you need a literary agent, the section promises to tell you what they”re actually for, but what it seems to actually do is tell you how to be a good agent and warn off amateur agents from this career path with comments such as “Not a game for newbies”.

A… The… What? I”m a writer, not an agent. I have no intention of becoming an agent.

True, such a section can be applied in differentiating a good agent from a poor one, but a lot of the content is stuff you wouldn”t necessarily be able to tell from websites, but would have to be first working with the agent to know. When it”s a little bit late…

Literary agents – UK and US

I rather casino like this post, although the advice isn”t applicable to me in the slightest. And yes, the opening line doesn”t make sense grammatically.

It”s generally presented in an essay style, first outlining then explaining the hurdles. I was also pretty pleased when I clicked on the “ask us” link and didn”t find Outlook opening gratingly in front of my eyes (and without telling me which email account it has linked itself to). I was a bit surprised by the sentence “ask us” is inserted into, though: “You can ask us, of course” immediately makes me want to ask why I would “of course” ask them. The site is an advice source, but I would also have thought they would want to be paid to trawl around answering questions about agents for me. Or just say “No.”

The Author/Literary Agent Relationship

This is a video. There are a couple. The other one is:

What literary agents are looking for

They are very nice, friendly, encouraging videos, but don”t contain a lot of concrete information. It is nice to watch a young author and a young agent talking about their careers just starting out – and in fact the speakers in the second viceo are just as encouraging, but…

Well, what they really say is they want that “page turning” quality, the kind of comment which leads to the frustrated “How do I achieve that, and how do I tell if I am anywhere near?”

I know it”s really hard to say what gives a novel va-va-voom. But you know what does that? Examples.

Give me example. If you give me examples, I will appreciate videos like this much more, because every time the image of what they”re talking about starts to fade I can go and look up an example. Maybe even an example on a similar theme to my book.

The second video also looks a bit less professional. It”s dark and there”s a lot of background noise. I get the impression that the agents were cornered somewhere during a literary festival and just had the camera pointed at their faces and told to talk.

YOU HAVE BEEN TAKEN AS LITERARY HOSTAGES.

I think embedding the videos into Writer”s Workshop could also help. Linking to Youtube is a bit greasy.