Submitting to agents(11 Posts)
I'm new to mumsnet, and new to publishing/ trying to get an agent. I'm looking for some advice about submitting to agents. I paid for an editorial report from the writers workshop. The editor told me that she really liked my book and felt it had potential so she recommended that I send it to someone at the writers workshop to see if they could help me find an agent. So, after making some amendments as suggested by the editor, I sent it off to the person she'd suggested. That was almost 4 weeks ago. She initially responded the next day to say that she'd received my MS and couldn't wait to get stuck in, but I've heard nothing since. Has anyone had any experience similar to this. I'm wondering whether to start approaching agents myself, or wait from further feedback from the writers workshop person?
First, id say anything less than six weeks is perfectly normal in terms of not hearing back. Longer than that and I'd politely chase.
Second, I wouldn't limit yourself to this agent just because someone set up the contact for you. Fine, if it's your dream agent anyway, but otherwise you're not wedded to them.
Ask yourself if you could have anyone, who would it be. Make a list of five. Is this agent on that list? If so, maybe wait another two weeks. If not, sub to your top five.
BTW, this advice is full of hindsight . Many years ago I subbed to agents in alphabetical order for the WYB.
First thing to do is revise the book as well as you can (if you haven't done so already), and make it the very best that it can be.
Then write a synopsis for it (one or two pages, single-spaced). This doesn't have to be written in the voice of the book, it just has to cover the main plot of the book. You won't have room to cover all the subplots, so don't worry about them: just make sure you put the main story down including the ending.
Then write a covering letter to go send out to agents. It has to grab their attention and make them interested in your book so this bit has GOT to be good.
(Nicola Morgan has written a couple of e-books on the subject of submitting which I think are very good: Write A Great Synopsis, and Dear Agent.)
Then research the agents you want to submit to. Look for agents who have made good sales to good publishers, for books in genres similar to yours. You can use Google but it's also helpful to go into bookshops and look in acknowledgements, etc, to find out who reps who.
When you have your list send your submissions out, five or so at a time. Follow the agents' guidelines to the letter (they'll be on the various agency websites). Expect to wait a few months for responses. As rejections come in, send a few more out. If you get lots of form rejections (rejections which are not personalised in any way) then there's probably a problem with your query, and you need to rework it. If you get lots of full requests and then no acceptance it's probable that your ms needs more work.
Try to remember that a rejection of the book is not a personal judgement on you, even though that's very hard to do. And good luck!
Many thanks for the advice. I'm not even sure if there is an agent, and who this is, or if they are even interested in my book, the lady who has it just told me she'd advise on the best way forward and may be able to help me find an agent. I've read that the WW has done this for a few authors - but I'm not sure how common or likely this is. So I think I'll start to research some agents and get a list together with a view to submitting. I have the synopsis and query letter ready to go. It's such a waiting game isn't it? Thanks for sharing your experience
I don't know whether this is practical for you, but a friend who's got his first book contract told me that he got an agent by taking his synopsis to the London Book Fair and being able to talk to a lot of them in person.
Just to add, please ensure your synopses matches the agents' requirements.
They don't all want the same thing ( even within agencies). It's a PITA but you need to tailor.
The Writers' Workshop is very good at giving critiques but you'd probably do better to find your own agent if you can: you need one that YOU like, not one the WW thinks is good! The two might well end up being the same thing, but you need to be sure.
I used to work at some of the bigger literary agents - as PPs have said, work really hard on your synopsis, cover letter and a strong opening - most agencies will only take the first 10 pages or 3 chapters. What is really helpful is to make sure that your cover letter, synopsis and MS have a footer on each page with the page no, your name and email address.
Bear in mind that when reaching out to agents, most get dozens of submissions every day. It is normal for it to take 6-12 weeks for anyone to get back to you.
Thanks very much for all the advice folks
Fenella - I've done a lot of ghosted non-fiction but now wanting to branch out into my own fiction. Any idea how long I should leave it after LBF before I send the proposal out? Thank you!
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