Given what I’ve said previously about the difficulties associated with getting published in this celebrity-dominated world, perhaps it’s right that today’s post is about trying to get an agent. Ah, the elusive agent, the powerful, the nebulous, the important, the increasingly vital agent. Another author close to me reported a discussion of a literary event recently where the agents outnumbered the authors present. This is hardly surprising, and perhaps it simply represents the hard commercial reality of publishing. So, what have I done to try to seduce one of these unreachable untouchables into buying into my dream and selling it for me? Well, let’s see…
A synopsis of course, is vital. But how to write it? What to include, what to leave out? I’ve gone for the big sell, frankly, and left them dangling at the end. Why? Because I don’t want to give away the ending yet, and this synopsis has already been scrutinised once by a reliable source. She told me to sell it, to use the sensationalist words I’ve been avoiding. So included in this synopsis is its USP. Great. I’m definitely selling myself here. I summarise the key terms in the novel, try to give some indication of its overall shape. But I’m keeping it brief, because I don’t want to bore them before we get started. Just give them a taster, make them want more…
A cover letter is also fundamental, and this one is in some ways more straightforward. I have to entice them to read the attachments. So I tell them how good I am, what my credentials are, my writing provenance. And I’ve tried to show that I’m a serious writer, I’ve been learning my Craft for a long time, and I’m going to keep on keeping on. It’s hard to sell yourself, however, and I’m wondering if I should take another piece of advice, and have someone else write the mini-biog I will send with the synopsis.
Every submission needs to be tailored to the agent concerned, so I’ve checked out their websites and made sure I have taken on board the advice and guidelines there.
Most importantly, I’ve looked at their client list. I want a good agent, well known, effective. If I recognise some of the names on the list, that means they must be halfway decent. And this tells me whether what they are representing already is anything like what I’m doing, and whether there is a potential ‘fit’ between me and them.
The synopsis is done, the letter is drafted, the first three chapters have been edited yet again, ready for submission. I’ve opened up an email for an agent who will accept email submissions, and written a bit of a blurb. I’ve attached the files, and for a moment, my heart beating, my finger hovered over the return button. Then I hit send. It’s gone. It’s out there. No going back. For better or worse, I’ve started the process.
They might say yes. They might say no. I don’t know which one is scarier.