I want to talk a little today about literary agents.
If you don’t already know what a lit agent is they are the little magical people that know publishers that can get your book published for you. They organize the best deal for you. They do all the leg work between you and the publisher.
If you are going to go traditional publishing route you really need one. And that can be hard. Lit agents get hundreds of submissions every day and you have to stand out from the slop pile (in a good way)
What is the best way to do this?
Your work. You have to have an awesome manuscript. It has to be neat and in their guidelines and as polished as humanly possible. DO NOT send out a first draft.
But who am I to tell you? Do I have an agent? No. But I can talk about my experiences with them.
Many years ago (pre-50 shades of grey) I wrote a series that was set in a dominatrix parlor. I must stress, it was not erotica … It had kinky sex in it but not in the “she lovingly cupped Reginald’s quivering member” sort of way. It had stuff that was confronting. It was a book about the diversity of human sexuality. It was not like 50 shades…
I was super proud of these books. I submitted the first to a shit tone of agents. Most of them came back saying “sorry” “not for us” “Good luck in your writing career” that sort of impersonal bullshit.
One agent (no names named) liked it. She asked to read the whole thing. THIS is what you want. You want that email back asking to read the whole MS.
She read it and got back to me after the longest 8 weeks of my life saying “I liked it, but sorry, kinky doesn’t sell”
Three months later … BOOM! 50 shades came out and went fucking nuts. Kinky doesn’t sell my fucking arse!
My point is that Agents are just humans. They may be the magical people that can get your book published, but they are just people, so treat them that way and it should make the process a little easier.
With the novel I have recently finished (Dead Bunnies Make All Eight of Me Cry) I have also submitted that to numerous agents. The first one I sent it to asked to read the whole thing. He actually CALLED me. I was beyond over the moon.
Then he wanted me to get a manuscript assessment done. I did it. He also wanted me to get a manuscript mentor. Now at this point I was crushed. Because it seemed to me like he didn’t actually want my story, he wanted me to spend a lot of money on these services. He had suggested places to get these things done at, that after a bit of looking into, I found that he owned…
I know I am waffling on a bit … I am sorry. I just want you to beware of who you send your work to. As I said before, agents are only human, and there are a lot of humans out there that are straight up douche bags. They do fucked up things for money.
Maybe this agent wasn’t. Maybe he was trying to be helpful. But it certainly seemed suspect.
Dear wannabe writers of the void. When submitting your work to agents and publishers, keep your heart sealed tight in a box or in a jar or somewhere it won’t get hurt. Being rejected sucks, but don’t let it deter you. It is business. And only business.
If you want to find yourself an agent I highly suggest going to The Publishers Marketplace It is great. It has lots of agents and their profiles. Follow the guidelines that are specific to each agent. I know that some places say to send out multiple submissions, but I personally think this is rude. I submit to one agent at a time.
If you like the idea of traditional publishing, but you are leaning towards self-pub then there is no reason why you can’t start the self-pub process while you are still submitting to agents.