Seek Right Agent

I’m attempting to acquire a literary agent to help with a novel I’ve mistakenly written. It’s not the funnest task. Writing the novel was entirely pleasurable, but trying to interest strangers in it is less so.

To liven things up I’m always tempted to use humour, but not always in ways that might be helpful ~

Dear *

I am seeking the services of a literary agent and was drawn to you as you represent both James Herbert and Alice Walker. In a strange way I have always felt my style was an exact cross between those two.

Leafing through the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook, I was dismayed by the number of agents who specify “no science fiction or horror” adding “or crime,” sometimes.) My book, though a comedy, is also a WWII science fiction horror whodunnit. Makes one feel almost unwanted. Only one agency went so far as to say, “CDLA dislikes science fiction, horror and crime.” I immediately rescience fiction or horrorolved to cheer myself up by applying, on the following lines ~

Dear *

On browsing through the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook, I was dismayed at how many literary agencies specify in their blurbs that they “do not accept science fiction, and horror,” some of them adding “crime” for good measure. So I was delighted to discover your agency merely states “CDLA dislikes science fiction and horror.” I am hereby sending you my science fiction-horror-whodunnit novel, which I am confident you will enjoy.

Since you dislike these genres but do not state definitively that you do not accept them, your life must be plagued by innumerable hateful submissions of the exact kind of literature you detest. But in this case, by writing a “perfect storm” combining three despised genres, I hope to cancel out those negative feelings: loathing will vie with disgust, boredom and irritation until a deep serenity washes over you.

Failing that, just remind yourself that strong emotion is preferable to indifference.

~ Fiona reacted to my description of this letter by saying, “You’re doing what you ALWAYS do, just pissing people off for no reason!” DO I always do that, dear reader?

Anyhow, it turns out that agent is one of the few that doesn’t accept email submissions, so I’d have to kill a bit of tree and spend money to have my little joke, so at that point I reluctantly admit it isn’t worth it.

9 Responses to “Seek Right Agent”

  1. ehrenstein47 Says:

    In the immortal words of Jayne Mansfield “Ask my agent”

  2. Johan Schuurbiers Says:

    ” DO I always do that, dear reader?” Well, Fiona must be the expert, obviously. As a daily reader of Shadowplay, I would use the words tongue in cheek and irony and sarcasm. They rank very high on my table of interesting qualities, so I don’t complain.

  3. Mark Fuller Says:

    Perhaps you only piss off people who may matter, not us mere mortals hanging on your every word…

  4. Could be something a bit like that.

    Charlton Heston remarked that Welles and Peckinpah, who could be charm itself to their actors, were never able to apply their charismatic warmth to movie execs, and he supposed it was their resentment at anyone who held power over them.

    I’m not as good or as rude as those two, obvs.

  5. DBenson Says:

    My 223,000-word Comedic Jazz Age Ruritanian Adventure Romance was self-published. Instead of being rejected by agents until I found one willing to see it through rejections by publishers, I eliminated the middlemen and am now being rejected by the reading public itself (25 copies in a bit over a year).

    On the plus side, it was a simple and fairly low-cost vanity project: $278, and $50 for copyright registration. For my money, Bookbaby formatted the manuscript for various devices, secured an ISBN number, and made it available through Amazon, iBooks and other outlets. If you Google “Her Temporary Prince” you’ll quickly find several places selling it. I went no-frills, submitted a ready-to-go digital manuscript with my own cover art — they offer editing, design, and a raft of other services to professionalize amateurs like myself, but they run up the price something fierce. Now I look at the typos and think of each one as money saved.

    Yes, it exists only as a digital artifact. But it will remain available indefinitely, and is spared the ignominy of the clearance table and beyond, and/or of haunting me in the form of unsold copies stockpiled in my garage.

    My older brother seriously believes it will be discovered and bought by Hollywood. This is less an expression of his faith in my writing as it is of his contempt for the film industry.

  6. Ha!

    Well, I think it sounds lovely.

    I am keeping online self-publishing in mind as a fallback option, but I want to give the book a chance. I’ll work my way down from the regular publishers to the sf specialists and resort to smashwords or whatever if all else fails.

    Working on the second book in the series to brighten things up in between emails and rejections. (The rejections so far are relatively painless, since everyone bends over backwards to say nothing but “sorry, no,” because the last thing they want is to leave some opening for a maniac to come back and demand they read the SECOND fifty pages…)

  7. ehrenstein47 Says:

    Did somebody say “Self-Publishung” ? It has its charms.

    And its limitations.

  8. DBenson Says:

    The curate’s egg, courtesy of an old Punch cartoon: When a bishop worries a young curate has been served a bad egg, the curate eagerly assures his host that parts of it are excellent.

    In pushing my book on friends I invert the gag, serving a literary bad egg and insisting they read on until they find an excellent part. I never tried submitting it to an industry professional, because all of them probably know the line about not having to eat the whole omelette to know it’s toxic, and would be unafraid to use it.

  9. Well, agents only read the first 50 pages or three chapters (some read much less, in reality, no doubt), so I guess one good trick is to make sure one of the excellent bits is at the start. Not sure if I’ve done this or not.

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