Am trying to get an agent for publishing a novel called The Sleeper. It is unfinished, but I reached the stage where to go on I need to be sure of publication, otherwise I should be doing something to attract business and generate income more immediately. I also have a completed play that I sent unsucessfully to agents and theatres.
I want to write a review of outsourcing, but need a definite publisher, because it will take a year of research.
Armed with The Writer’s Handbook ( there is also The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook) I have been selecting agents who look good prospects. So far, none are interested.
A number say they are not taking on new authors – so why put themselves in a directory? Or they list in their directory entries what they will not handle. All carry lists of the authors they represent. Some are impressive and some not so.
Each has their own submission guidelines, but what is given in The Handbook or The Yearbook may be different from what is given on their website, if they have one. Following either carefully you risk being told they want something different. Some just want a letter: others a synopsis; others the first three chapters, or the first chapter, or any three chapters, or the first 50 pages. Some want a CV and previously published work. Others do not. But, as I’ve said, you only really find out what is wanted when you try and discover you got it wrong.
Most say they will not accept email. Some say nothing. One of these has just responded by refusing to read what I sent by email, insisting I go to the expense of posting my synopsis and sample chapters. Their website carries a grave injunction against email. Their directory entry was silent.
What I had sent was a selection of chapters with a synopsis and information about me that I had put together in a document with a cover to try to bridge all these different demands, because it is my work that I am trying to sell.
This is a business after all and authors are agents’ income generators, yet their business model seems stuck in a leisurely part of the mid-nineteenth century based on exclusivity rather than the vulgarity of business. They are just realising the benefits of the Penny Post.
Securing an agent is a mutual procurement exercise, but their various “submission guidelines” are self-indulgences designed to deter, not attract business. Yet publishing is a multi-billion business at the cutting edge of technology.
Agents need to come into the twenty-first century. They have missed the twentieth and will have to hear about it from others – perhaps from a deterred author.