Sunday, November 15, 2009

LinkedIn for Writers and Agents?

I’m still in submission mode--querying agents; sending requested partials or fulls; receiving helpful or form rejections; sometimes hearing nothing more than crickets. Along the way, I’ve realized how inefficient the whole darn process can be; as I see it, anyway. Querying multiple agents can be nothing more than a time-sucking duplication of effort for writers like me. And for agents, sending countless rejections is just another royal waste of time and effort. There must be a way to streamline the process, for all involved.

Which got me thinking. Why isn’t there some type of networking site, a la LinkedIn or Facebook, specifically for writers/authors and agents, so they can hook up?

As I see it, every writer could have his or her own page, with a photo. (Heck, if you look like the next top model, it couldn’t hurt your odds of being picked an agent, I mean.) On the rest of your page, you could upload your manuscript’s (or manuscripts’) logline, query letter, first page, partial, and full manuscript, as separate links, for agents to click on as desired.

Agents would find you through a key word search. Suppose Agent X was desperate for a manuscript with the following specs: a high-concept, middle-grade fantasy about a boy protagonist who morphs into a dung beetle at night, but only when his mom attends PTA meetings, and his dad plays bocce ball. He or she would simply type in the search words, et voila, find the lone three writers worldwide--you included, woo hoo!--with the exact same key words on their networking pages.

Agent X would then request a page viewing from you, the writer/author. If granted, Agent X could view as many of your links as desired, and either reject your logline, query, ms., etc., or offer representation--yippee!--by clicking on the appropriate box. Of course, you’d be notified immediately by e-mail, and given the opportunity to accept or reject the offer of representation, say, within two days.

Writers could search for their perfect agents the same way. They could even set up the terms of what types of agents they'd like to include in their search terms, for example, include only agents from New York City. Agents would also have the option to block certain writers or types of writers from contacting them, due to, say, a prior rejection or other mismatch situation.

Of course, a small fee would be required to participate. But it would be well worth the savings in time and effort for writers/authors and agents alike.

So, gentle readers, what do you think? And what other elements would you like to see added to the site?


  1. I LOVE this idea! Really. Can you get an agent's or editor's feedback--maybe find out what any drawbacks might be or how you might go about setting this up?

  2. This idea sounds workable in some ways, but if the agents needed be key word specific about what they are looking for, that could be a downer. They could miss some great titles just because they didn't match a category. And in that case, it's a downer for the author also!

    How many times have you heard editors at conferences say they have ideas about what they might like to see, but what matters most is how well written and compelling the story is?

  3. Gale- I know just what you mean, and it drives me a little nuts. "I absolutely don't like X unless it's really good" Well, by the time we're ready for the query stage, don't we all think our work is good? :P

  4. Okay - I admit it, I am a Luddite. The very thought of having a site like this makes me break out in hives! I'm having a hard enough time keeping up with this blog, blueboards, and a website I'm supposed to be launching soon! I'd need to hire a tech to help me.

    That doesn't take away from the value of your idea, J.A. It's just a statement on my abilities.

  5. Definitely a thought provoking idea! It sounds so easy - too easy. I'm sure there are some loopholes that we eager writers can't think of and Gale brings up a valid argument about an agent or editor missing out on a worthy project.

    It is an interesting idea, though. I'd certainly consider signing up!

  6. Harper Collins took a step in that direction in launching

    "authonomy invites unpublished and self published authors to post their manuscripts for visitors to read online. Authors create their own personal page on the site to host their project - and must make at least 10,000 words available for the public to read.

    Visitors to authonomy can comment on these submissions – and can personally recommend their favourites to the community. authonomy counts the number of recommendations each book receives, and uses it to rank the books on the site. It also spots which visitors consistently recommend the best books – and uses that info to rank the most influential trend spotters.

    We hope the authonomy community will guide publishers straight to the freshest writing talent – and will give passionate and thoughtful readers a real chance to influence what’s on our shelves."

  7. Okay, this was almost spooky-- Right after I read this post @deuhlig on Twitter posted a link to a service just like the one you've described! Check it out here:

  8. Maureen and MG: I'm so glad you like my idea.

    Gale, Lily, and Robin: This service would be an alternative to traditional querying, not a replacement for it. I agree, it has its drawbacks.

    J.A. and Brianna: Thanks for pointing out these services. I'd be curious to know if anyone ever landed a deal through the Harper site. To me, it sounds like a site that writers, not agents, would want to troll, but I could be wrong. After a quick peek, I also think AgentInbox sounds like little more than a glamorized version of traditional querying. I don't see the time savings here at all, but maybe I'm missing something.

    I still like my idea best!