It’s been several months since I finished my novel. It feels like a lifetime, but I have little to show for it aside from the satisfaction of having written a whole 85,000-word metaphysical fantasy story that almost no one has read.
By finished, I mean a third draft including feedback from beta readers (thanks folks). It felt like I’d reached the point where I was rearranging sentences that I’d previously pondered and arranged. I took that as a sign that it was done.
Naively, I thought the hard bit was over, but it turns out that finding a literary agent to help me along the road to publication is a Sisyphean task. I’m starting to suspect J.K. Rowling was trying to warn us through the metaphor of quidditch and its frustratingly elusive golden snitch.
Back in May, having used up the last of my leave fretting over which literary agents to submit my work to, I went back to my grown-up job having only found two potentially suitable agents who were accepting submissions from debut authors (these two criteria really narrow the field). Bills needed paying and life goes on. After all, the ‘write novel’ bucket list entry had been ticked. Technically.
Sadly, the ‘if you don’t hear from us in twelve weeks’ calendar lines have long since been crossed. I’ve been routinely scouring my inbox and spam folder for a response, but I’ve not seen anything among the false positives generated by well-meaning messages from Jericho Writers, Reedsy et al.
To address this, now I’ve booked some time off work to once again focus on finding a literary ally to champion my work, but I’m left wondering what mistakes I’m destined to repeat that led to previous submissions being filed in the ‘circular file’. What should I change in future submissions? What am I getting right? Oh the anxiety! It seems like you need an agent to represent yourself to agents. I’ve now read and watched so many guides to finding a literary agent, I’m considering creating a Jonathan Pie/Alan Partridge alter-ego literary agent to create my own spoof guide (‘Ten things you shouldn’t not do if you’d like to not have an agent who won’t represent your book’).
To be fair to literary agents, my use of my time off so far has probably not been optimal for seeking out my perfect representative. I’m fairly sure they’d be quick to point out that laying a new kitchen floor, entertaining the kids in half-term, and conducting a thorough hour-by-hour heat distribution survey of my house isn’t really going to get that manuscript onto their desk (but we still haven’t turned the heating on – take that Putin!). But, you know, I’ve got to channel this writerly angst somewhere.
In any case, that work begins in earnest again now. Once again I’ll scour the guide sites and my copy of the Writers & Artists Yearbook 2022 in the hope of finding someone who is prepared to show me how to do this author thing.
Just as soon as I’ve procrastinated a little more and updated my Twitter profile. Oh crap, I’m back to work on Monday.
Previous related ramblings:
It all began with this short story: Michael’s Next Adventure (April 2020)
#1: Distraction, Discipline and Writing in Wagars (September 2021)
#2: Long Covid vs Writing (September 2021)
#4: It’s World Book Day and I’ve Finished* Mine! (March 2022)
#5: Unicorns, Wild Geese, Golden Snitches (or The Hunt for a Literary Agent)