Literary agents – a true story
Literary agents inhabit a rarified position within the publishing business. Writers need them and it is often more difficult to get one to represent you than find a publisher.
Even self-published authors who find themselves becoming part of the mainstream strive to find an agent and there is a whole sub-cultural 'agent watch' environment that monitors the minutiae of agent activity, checking out their likes and dislikes, deals done and clients signed.
I have had two agents in my writing career, one high powered and the other probably B-list (this not intended as a criticism, merely an honest observation). The first agent had made the careers of actors such as Michael Caine, Ben Kingsley and Peter Sellers but took me on as a writer almost on the fringe of his agency (of which he was chairman). He was known in the business as 'The Silver Fox'.
He loved a screenplay of mine that has now morphed into my YA trilogy 'The Kingdoms Of Time And Space' and set out to get a film deal. Unfortunately, he passed away before he could clinch a deal.
Many years later I managed to get a US agent with whom I only had one conversation but who tried hard to find a publisher for some of my books Ã‚â€“ on a one-book-at-a-time basis. He was old-fashioned in the sense that he initially sent out hard copy MSS with all the costs that entailed. I persuaded him to try email submissions and he realised suddenly what had been missing from his modus operandi.
It reached the point where I helped to draft a pitch letter and then began (with his approval) to send out email pitches to editors I had researched as though they had come from the agent. I was, in fact, doing the job for him. We had a good relationship and if a deal had been on the cards he would have negotiated.
Frustrated, I began to self-publish in the belief that if I had a modicum of success then this would be an advantage not a disadvantage from a publishers' perspective.
My agent didn't see it that way and declared he did not represent self-published books because in his experience publishing houses would not be interested unless you had sold 10,000 copies.
There may be some truth in this. I am still not convinced either way. My agent never actually told me he was stopping representation but I can only assume silence speaks louder than emails.
Even though my books are selling I am still on the hunt for an agent.
So, if there is an agent out there just trawl through the site.