How not to get a Literary Agent?

illustration of literary agents

Preperation
Before submitting any material I read through the profiles of some 150 agents. But I didn’t only read their profiles, I read their twitter feeds, watched their video posts, read about their likes and dislikes and checked the authors they represent.

illustration of literary agents

I’ve failed so far, but what have I learned?
I submitted the first three chapters of Life After Alison, a query letter and a synopsis (at the requested length) to a number of agents. So far I have had only rejections – polite, formulaic, friendly, but still rejections.

As this is my third novel I have been searching for where the disconnect lies and I think I’ve identified a problem with my writing. I have concentrated on storytelling, not to the detriment of everything else, but storytelling has been my focus. My readers like my style, but it doesn’t grab the attention of agents.

So the novel I’m now working on, with the working title of Hannah’s Island, is addressing that perceived weakness. The first five hundred words immerse you in the character, the place, the time and how it feels to be Hannah, but without my usual driven storytelling (the story does evolve). We will see what happens when I’ve finished the novel, but I’m quite pleased with the new direction.

illustration of literary agents

The main thing to remember is…
Literary agents stand shoulder to shoulder in wanting to like your novel. It’s not their fault if you’ve written something dull or riddled with literals or derivative (I don’t think I have but… who knows). And they’re all different. Just because one is unimpressed, it doesn’t mean another will not turn out to be your champion.

I will be posting occasionally about how Hannah’s Island is progressing and probably post those first five hundred words, with notes, on how I think I’ve adjusted my style and content.

Summary
It may appear to be about ‘who you know’, but in the end it’s about what you’ve written.

ps editing
I have since had my manuscript professionally edited – I really should have done that first. No wonder I had no success with agents.

2 thoughts on “How not to get a Literary Agent?

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