Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Opening a Vein: Agent Artery

 Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

 Last week a literary agent contacted me on Twitter. "Ever heard of these folks?" she asked. "They've been spamming us all day."

The link she gave me led to a service called Agent Artery.
Agent Artery is a service with both writers and agents in mind, helping literary agencies and agents manage and keep on top of requests for representation from new authors, and helping writers to easily keep track of their submissions.

Our system has been designed to provide both agents and authors with better tracking and processing when it comes to managing submissions.
As readers of this blog will know, such services--all of which purport to give you an advantage by streamlining the submission process with a one-stop-shopping approach--are nothing new. I've written a number of times about query blast services (and why agents and editors hate them), and also about manuscript submission services and why they're not only unlikely to land you an agent or publisher, but may result in contacts from fee-charging bottom-feeders. Agent directories and listing services can be a better bet, at least as far as utility is concerned, especially if they let you organize and track your submissions--but they're tools, not shortcuts.

Agent Artery (could they have come up with a less appealing name?) is UK-based, and at first glance looks like a cross between a submission service and a listing service. It lets you search its "comprehensive agency directory" (and indeed, its agent directory is replete with the names of extremely reputable UK agents, though the information supplied about each agency leaves a lot to be desired). It lets you upload your submission materials and submit them to agencies of your choice with a simple click. It lets you track your submissions, and sends you an alert in the event of a rejection or a request.

So where's the problem? Well....Here's one of Agent Artery's actual submission emails, with identifying information redacted to spare embarrassment to the author.
From: info@agentartery.com
Date: 9 January 2014 17:50:33 GMT
To: [agency name redacted]
Subject: New Representation request / [book title redacted] by [author name redacted]
Reply to: info@agentartery.com

Human

[Author name redacted] is interested in representation by [agency name redacted] for their manuscript:

Submission details:
  • [Book title redacted]
  • Word Count: 444
  • Genres: Crime
Cover Letter:

Dear Madam,
I am a twenty-three year old thriller writer.
With a high and true sense of imagination, I have painstakingly created this crime thriller, [book title redacted] which goes a long way to provide a gateway into a world of crime where you feel the pain of the characters.
Enjoy the upload and i hope to hear from you soon.
Yours faithfully,
[author name redacted]

Synopsis:
  • [redacted--three short paragraphs with grammatical and other errors]
Download sample chapters:
  • Download sample chapters [link redacted]
Learn more about our service:
  • View full submission details [link redacted--leads to the author's submission page]
Should you receive this?
If there is a better contact at [agency name redacted] to receive this type of submission, please let us know:
Thanks,
Agent Artery


----------------------------------------------------

agentartery
  • Agent Artery is a service with both writers and agents in mind, helping literary agencies and agents manage and keep on top of requests for representation from new authors,and helping writers to easily keep track of their submissions. To learn more please visit www.agentartery.com/uk
Even beyond the unacceptable word count and the issues with grammar and the bizarre salutation, this just screams "spam."

According to the agent who contacted me, some of the cover letters were better done. Even so, no reputable agent is likely to pay attention to something like this--especially if they're getting it five times a day. Additionally, the agent told me that her agency hadn't agreed to be listed in Agent Artery's database (which uses material copied directly from the agency's website), or for Agent Artery to use its logo.


Bottom line: Agent Artery may seem like a shortcut, but it's actually a dead end. 

Agent Artery is run by Blue Compass Limited (company founder Chris Timms appears on Agent Artery in a mildly ridiculous fashion) which "owns & operates a portfolio of Recruitment and Networking websites across the full spectrum of the UK's Arts and Media industry."

12 comments:

stacy said...

Hmmm. Feeling an Artery blockage coming on...

Pat Dilloway said...

Jeez, not even "Dear Human"? How unprofessional.

Tadd Mencer said...

Wow this is horrible. Looking at the sites, they look excessively unprofessional just in design and aesthetics. I do web development and design for a living so I look at a lot of great websites .. these are not it.

Feels like someone just trying to scam industries to make a quick buck. MOST of the images don't work, content is painfully listed .. it's just not good.

oi.

Anonymous said...

I actually said Deaar Human? I thought maybe that was one of the redacted parts! Wow.

Matt Borgard said...

This isn't actually a terrible idea -- it's not really that far off from Query Tracker. But obviously the format of the letter template is horrendous, among other problems.

I still find it kind of funny that a "Dear Agent" letter is considered obviously unprofessional and unacceptable (which it is!), but a "Dear Author" letter (or no reply at all) is just fine.

Victoria Strauss said...

Yes, it really said "Human" (not even "Dear Human")--I didn't redact that part.

Matt--it really is a terrible idea, because it's obviously a fill-in-the-blanks query that comes from a third party, rather than directly from the author. A submission service that lets you put together your own materials in your own format and sends the query out as if it came directly from you is OK, but third party submissions are always regarded with suspicion.

none said...

I fail to see how this lives up to their claim that they're helping agents manage requests for represenation [sic].

Michael Capobianco said...

It should have been addressed to "Earth Human."

Change It Up Editing said...

When I was an acquisitions editor for a small press, I was instructed to ignore and delete form queries like this. Because small presses are often a perfect fit for a new author, using this type of company could ruin a writer's career before it even gets off the ground.

Dennis Latham said...

This is great stuff; almost like a bizarre comedy routine. Love the novel description.

Anonymous said...

Love the greeting (clearly they are ran by aliens and thus don't know any better, our customs must be too strange), but I think they forgot a comma or semi-colon after human.

Do people actually fall for this? They could save money and send their own spam.

Terry Tyler said...

I just had a look at their Twitter page - they stopped abruptly at only 28 tweets shortly after this post came out. Hopefully not too many were rip-off by them; maybe they got deserved abuse via Twitter!