Monday, 14 January 2013

Submitting to a Literary Agent

[Here's the link to my *top ten Amazon best-seller* book (grab a copy for just £2.99!):]

In this new era of ‘Do you really need a publisher?’ and ‘Is it really worth securing a literary agent?’ where do I stand? That was a rhetorical question by the way. Do I personally actually have a personal actual literary agent yet? Am I, by some miracle of fate, properly traditionally published now by a proper traditional publishing house?

Call it a hunch, but I think my blog posts, at a stretch, could feasibly be considered a tad gappy. So, here I am, fully present, trying, from now, to be more regular, commas and all: tabula rasa, fresh start, square one and all that. I even plan to start tweeting (“Big deal,” I hear you say. Well I’m going to do it anyway, you know short pithy laugh-out-loud soundbites type stuff.) Watch this space…

Now then, down to business… I have, since the commencement of this blog, which, let’s face it, does claim to be ‘ready to be read’, sent out my work to some literary agents. I will be quoting (anonymously) the broad range of responses I received, so you know what to expect if you’re about to embark on the road to publication. I learnt that mostly, you cannot approach a publisher directly, and that only a literary agent can recommend your novel to a publisher. I dutifully bought the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook and the Writers’ Handbook. Then, together with t’internet, I compiled a list of agents I might approach. It’s important to research literary agents so you know their background and the type of person they are but, crucially, the sort of manuscripts and writers they take on and ultimately, novels they've taken on which they have subsequently been published.

When you have selected a handful (or two) of agents to approach, you must send a covering letter, a one-page synopsis, and a sample of your work (usually the first three chapters). Would-be published authors know all this as it’s squirted in our eyes from all directions, as is the assertion that we should expect nowt. Every book and website and blog you read tells you to look forward to a nice little pile of politely-worded rejection letters, but you gotta cling onto some hope innit? So you post or email your submissions to carefully selected, gorgeous, hugely discerning literary agents. Then you wait… and wait… and wait… And just when you’ve convinced yourself that you weren’t even worth the time or effort to be formally rejected, you start hearing back.

In the end I received a reply from all those I’d approached (two took over A YEAR to reply). It’s a bit of a catch 22 as agents do not like you to make multiple submissions but they are so busy, they don’t have time to read yours for months. But at least it weren’t all bad news… update in next blog post.

I will finally live up to my blog name and post a wee sample of my novel very soon too…

My lovely and clever Mslexia diary includes a section called ‘Submissions Diary’, to facilitate keeping track of everything you send in; column headings are ‘what’, ‘where to’, ‘when’ sent and returned, ‘feedback’ and (the touchingly optimistic) ‘payment’. The diary includes supportive messages, reading suggestions and… wait for it… a menstrual calendar which charts cycles of the moon! Ooooh. It’s been fascinating to observe the two interweaving – ‘Ah that’s why I feel even weirder than usual today.’

I recommend Here’s an extract from their website, so you know what you can expect from Mslexia… ‘Welcome to the website for Mslexia, the magazine for women who write. Mslexia is an independent publishing company that provides information and (we hope) inspiration for published and unpublished women in the UK and beyond. In addition to our quarterly magazine and Writer’s Diary, Mslexia runs workshops and events, and a series of high-profile competitions for poets, novelists and short-story writers. We welcome submissions for every part of the magazine (apart from the Editor’s letter). Explore the website to submit to the magazine, enter our competitions, sample past and current issues – and generally join in with the Mslexia conversation. We look forward to hearing from you.’

Be back soon (a promise and a command… please, then)

[Here's the link to my *top ten Amazon best-seller* book (grab a copy for just £2.99!):]

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