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Monday, 18 August 2014

On finding an Agent

Well, it has been a while, and whilst it may appear that I have been AWOL I can assure you I have been a very busy person! Who knew that the easy part was writing a novel, and that the hard part was the 'trying to get it out there' and all the things that come as part of that process? Yeah, okay, so I was aware of this, but was I prepared?

I think it's fair to say I'm pretty exhausted. It has also hit me that gaining an agent may be akin to winning the lottery.

There is so much information out there: on the world wide web and in writers magazines and various other articles, that quite frankly, it can be off-putting to say the least. For example, what I thought was a simple covering letter (see HERE for some examples) that would convey the necessary information to my prospective agent, was actually quite a complicated matter.

 The more research you do,
Me - in a pickle :)
 it seems the more of a pickle you can get yourself in. 
                                               Plus, each literary agency, and each individual agent may expect something different in the covering letters/emails they receive. Get it wrong at your peril! One resource stated categorically do NOT compare your novel to an existing author, yet another asks you to. One states do not use humour, be very professional, yet I found evidence of 'real life' covering letters of successful authors that did just that (see examples HERE).

Oh - and don't get me started on the synopsis. I thought I was doing well, I had completed a 1 page and 3 page synopsis which I hoped would entice the agent and 'sell' my story. Again, I had researched the 'how to' and found some good advice (see HERE) but, I found varying recommendations as to 'spacing'. So my one pager (single spaced lines) turned out to be one and a half when spaced at 1.5, so just a bit more stress to add to the pot. 

I have only queried a handful of agents, (and that has taken a very long time), ones I like because of their reputation or the authors on their lists, or ones that have great profiles that got me all excited thinking about working with them. And, it IS exciting - this long process of trying to be found in the slush pile - don't get me wrong, but ultimately I would rather it be easier! Wouldn't we all. 

The Writers' Workshop is one resource that tells you 'How to Get An Agent Without Dying of Old Age'. It outlines some KEY STEPS that may help. Or there may be another site that tells you something different...

Basically I think you have to do your homework, pick and choose which advice you feel suits your work and the agent you are approaching, definitely follow their individual submission guidelines, and keep your fingers crossed. I also advise keeping alert - I made a fatal error in one covering email because I was tired, and once you've hit the send button it's too late, so check, double check and then check again!

In the meantime, if you are waiting for the offer of representation, or the rejection - which apparently are merely 'responses' NOT rejections (yeah, whatever) -do what I am doing - write another novel. It'll take your mind off it all and propel it back into the exhilarating world of new characters and story lines and remind you what you are doing this all for in the first place :)

I would love to hear your experiences, and any hints or tips you've picked up along the way - so feel please free to leave a comment. Thanks for stopping by.