Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Literary Agents - Boadicea is Back

I feel so much better today, all ready for battle and holding back an ocean or two with my spear. Or was that Canute?

I spent over an hour this morning tweaking even more query letters. The list of literary agents is long, but I'm gradually working through it, making my notes, giving each a kind of one to ten grading. There's such a mystique about agents. They are so remote from you as you sit at your computer, despite their internet proximity.

When you find a nice one, from reading their blog or a comment by a writer, you want so much to just pick up the phone and chat, because they seem so approachable. I'd start off with, "You must get so many emails, so I thought I'd just call you to make things easier. Perhaps we could grab a coffee and I could show you my..."

- Of course, no chance of that, but it would be nice.

Anyway, from my rating system so far, here's a bit of a summary, in no particular order of relevance:

They are all a bit bossy - the writer must do this, and mustn't do that, redolent of school. I hated school - except for Art, English, and History.

They can be so dogmatic about their realms of interest or preferred genres, usually with some form of qualifier, so that you come away from that bit of research wondering where on earth your work fits in.

They all seem to have different submission requirements. Couldn't this be standardized throughout the industry, in some way? Why are they not expected to conform to norms?

Some are sweet, others are surly, judging by their blog tone; some seem to enjoy their reputation for prickliness.

Some are famous for responding speedily, and there are more with the 'I'll-probably-never-get-back-to-you-because-my-daily-inbox-is-SO-HUGE' attitude. How would that play for us mere mortals at our jobs?

They have funny blogs, terribly serious blogs, and downright impatient, unkind blogs.

They are revered everywhere and probably get good restaurant tables.

They have posh offices and crappy ones.

They can be gushingly-friendly, or overly-formal.

They all appear to enjoy a wonderful kind of love/hate relationship with one another.

There are rather a lot of women agents; I wondered at the significance of that.

Finally, writers hang onto their every word, and lose sight of the fact that the agent is there to provide them with a service.

It's unscientific, this little research of mine. But I have come away from it with names of people (all women) to whom I think I can trust my work. Dare I say, my heart?


Melissa Marsh said...

You said it all right here: "Finally, writers hang onto their every word, and lose sight of the fact that the agent is there to provide them with a service."

I need to definitely keep this in mind when I start the agent search again.

Hope you are successful in your quest!

Emily Cross said...

I love your rating system and its great that your at the phase of querying!! that seems so far away for me.

anyhoo I thought i'd let you know that i've created a forum to coincide with the blog

Basically its a forum where writers can come and discuss their yays and woes, share advice or discuss the publishing world. I'd love it if you could drop in and have a look (it was only set up yesterday) and maybe let your friends know if they're interested.