Sunday, 29 April 2012
Literary agents are rare creatures. The official definition for a Literary Agent is: a person who manages business, financial, or contractual matters for a writer. Or, as the free online dictionary defines agent: 1. One that acts or has the power or authority to act. 2. One empowered to act for or represent another: an author's agent; an insurance agent.
But in my book the definition is: Author's agent - an individual or ever dwindling group of individuals with sufficient clients who are very unlikely to take on further clients unless they are famous. Which rather leaves me out in the cold. I understand their reason: a great deal of time has to be invested marketing a new, or relatively unknown, author and if it reaps no rewards who pays the agent's bar bill?
So, having contacted a few agents and having some kind encouragement but no-one biting my hand off, I am starting to widen my circle. At the same time as approaching agents who may just find my book so riveting that they are willing to take my work on, I thought I would look into contacting book publishers direct.
Book publishers are difficult creatures to corner. The definition of a book publisher is roughly: a company that pays to acquire, develop, design, produce and publicize a book. But the definition should probably include 'after which outlay there is no guarantee of return'. I understand the economics.
Unfortunately, since my novel, A Little Blue Jacket, was published, few book publishers accept unsolicited manuscripts. An agent wants a best selling author, likewise, a publisher wants a best seller. Like an agent they know these are one in a million. So how do they wade through a slush pile the size of a Swedish forest. And what are their chances of finding JKR II in all that pulp.
It's for this reason that most book publishers only accept manuscripts through a literary agent. By using an agent to do their sifting they have cut their costs and increased their chances of success. I know that literary agents and book publishers are bombarded with requests from wanna-be published authors. I know that neither agent nor publisher can ever hope to cope with it all.
But now you see my dilemma without my really having to spell it out: no agent, no publisher. No book. So, tell me, how do I, a modest and talented writer (like all hopeful authors) with a highly individual manuscript ready and waiting to go, solve this conundrum. How is it to be overcome. Please give me a contact. Or just practical advice. Even a teensy weensy clue would help ….anything?