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And now an announcement for all you writerly folk

The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook has often been described as the bible for authors. And it has been – up until now. You see, the one major set-back of the Yearbook and other similar publications is that a directory has its limitations. It only allows you to search for the Literary Agency, when, ideally, you would like to search for an individual agent. In fact, what you really, really want to do is to find out exactly what makes that agent tick. Who is a closet fan of 90’s hip-hop? Who likes knitting, sweet peas and zumba? (In no particular order of preference.) Who, in heaven’s name, has a penchant for high-end dolls’ houses?
Agent Hunter, brought to you by the lovely folk at Writers’ Workshop, is their ultimate tracking device in the form of an easy-to-use on-line facilty.
User-friendly help-text guides you through the process of refining your search – by genre in the first instance, but there are other useful suggestions. For example, with my calculation of the cost of a single postal submission being at between £15 – £18, and you – I presume – on a typical writers’ budget, it is particularly useful to know whether an agent will accept submissions by email when creating your short-list. The choice of whether then to plump for a talented young agent who has ambitions to grow their list, or an established agent with an admirable track-record is entirely up to you. (The former, go for the former!)  
Certain agents have clearly chosen to retain an air of mystique (they might say professionalism, and you may well agree). Personally, when considering entrusting the results of two-years’ worth of blood, sweat and tears to a third party, I would naturally prefer it to be the girl who hid behind the radiator in her classroom to finish Alan Garner’s The Owl Service. I can picture her now… However, with Agent Hunter’s links to Twitter, I could also tell you which elusive-sounding agent’s extremities are currently (accurate at time of going to press) freezing as a result of an ill-timed camping-expedition to the Cotswolds. (Having just returned from a walking holiday in the Lake District, I sympatise.) Some agents have been very open about their acheivements (discovering ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’ in his slushpile) and their aspirarions (wanting to discover the next Sophie Hannah). Some actually invite you to telephone them (I didn’t know they did that.) You will find genuinely helpful advice about perfecting your pitch and avoiding pitfalls. Other agents admit that their art is alchemy: how on earth do you describe what you mean by ‘original voice’? ‘What do I want? I will recognise it the moment I read it.’ As a writer, I don’t object to honesty of that sort, because the passion is tangible, and that is the magic ingredient I’m looking for in an agent.            
Then and only then do I allow myself to hit the ‘Literary Agency’ Tab. And there I find exactly what would I expect: instructions for submissions, contact details and the like. The sort of stuff you might find in a cold-blooded directory.    
Agent Hunter is available for an annual subscription of £12.00, which stacks up very favourably when compared with the price of a directory or a superior bottle of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. But don’t take my word for it. The site has a neat ‘Try Before You Buy’ tab (although jucier details of agents’ private lives may be blanked out).