If it hadn't been for Colleen Lindsay's twitter about WEbook, I don't know that I would have given the query service a try.
The FinePrint Literary agent is giving WEbook a one-month work-out and what's to lose if I give it a try as well.
For now, it's free. You fill out the forms and follow the directions and the next thing you know, you're submitting queries to agents who have signed up to receive queries from WEbook.
The service says that they look over your submission, which includes an author bio, a VERY short hook, the query letter and a partial manuscript, before moving the whole thing along to the agent. You have to pick your genre, so the idea is to compile a list of agents who want to be queried for what you write. Targeting is so efficient, don't you know.
How does it differ from a do-it-yourself process? Not very. You don't have to look up agent e-mail addresses, since clicking on a link brings up a screen where you insert your letter and it's already addressed. You still have to write a proper query letter so there's no easy way out at that end.
The author bio is a bit more involved than the standard closing paragraph of the query letter, but what agent will care about your education if you're writing fiction? And what kind of credentials does a writer need to write fiction, anyway, besides a mastery of the English language and a vivid imagination?
How well does the service work? My trial run produced a very quick rejection from one agent, so it's not entirely different from past experience without a go-between.
What I do know is that the agent read my bio, the brief synopsis, and the query.
Thanks to WEbook, I know that a second agent read the whole packet, from bio to manuscript sample, and then....well, maybe it's one of those "no reply means no" sorts of things. Everything got read, but there wasn't any request for more. Nor was there a rejection. Yes, not at all different from doing it yourself.
Eventually, WEbook will charge for the service, possibly after it catches on with writers or draws a lot of members. The thing is, it won't be worth paying for.
Except for knowing when and if an agent reads the submission, there's nothing about the site that makes a big difference. Sure, it's easier to submit a query, but it's not such a difficult thing to do in the first place. It's fantastic to know if your material has been received and looked at, but to pay money for the information?
There's all kinds of query blasting services out there that practically spam literary agents. WEbook is more fine-tuned and requires more of their users, but you can find agents for your genre at AgentQuery.com and that won't cost a thing.