Wednesday, 16 December 2009

The Literary Agent

Elizabeth Cochrane talked to a packed house around 60 people, hosted by ourselves and Leicester Writers Club earlier this month. She works for Greene & Heaton literary agents and was giving tips on how to submit fiction writing to an agent (or publisher). Here are a few:
  1. Buy the Writers & artists yearbook for a full list of agents and contacts
  2. Target agents who deal with writers with a similar genre/style to your own (see acknowledgements pages of relevant books).
  3. A submission for a novel will include: letter, synopsis & sample:
    □ The Letter: give some background info on yourself; genre of the book (eg psychological thriller); why it should be published; why you have chosen this agency. Be business-like. Don’t mention the ‘slush pile’ or copyright issues. Do mention other writers who might be in a similar market.
    □ Synopsis: Maximum 2 pages. Make the font and spacing easy to read. Do give the whole plot.
    □ Sample: Send the first 50 pages (setting up the plot). Realistically maximum 3 pages will be read - about the same amount as a customer in a book shop.
  4. When writing you need to be clear about the market for your book. It is best to fall into a defined genre (eg romance). Most books lose money and don’t ‘earn out’ their advance (ie make any further royalties than that given as an advance).
  5. It may take months to get a response. Receiving a standard rejection letter doesn’t mean to say that the work hasn’t been read or discussed.

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