Most of you heard the new yesterday that I’m now agented! Yesterday I met Juliet Mushens from Peters Fraser & Dunlop at their offices in London and despite being a nervous wreck was coherent enough to feel her enthusiasm for my manuscript and my writing and to love her ideas for improving them. It still feels a bit surreal after two years of submitting to agents to have one but I’m excited for the journey ahead.
A few non-writers asked me yesterday exactly what having an agent actually means. I totally understand this as before I wrote a book and thought about trying to get it published, I didn’t have a clue either! I assumed I’d send it in to a top publisher and sign a million-pound book deal the next day. Uh… no, basically. Most of the main publishers don’t accept submissions from writers without agents – they look to agents to filter novels for them. So if you want to be traditionally published, you really need a literary agent. In the same way as actors have film agents to get them work.
An agent primarily works to bridge the gap between author and publisher and to get your book published but they really do a whole lot more – most will help you edit and improve your story before submitting it, they will support and champion your career and help you make decisions about what to write next. To get an agent, most writers submit their manuscript to them and end up in what’s called a slush-pile and hope that an agent will pick it out and fall in love with it. Others meet them at conferences and pitch the book to them there, or you might enter a writing competition and get noticed by them that way, or some may know an agent through a friend. I found mine through submitting directly – I emailed Juliet my first three chapters, she asked to read the full manuscript the same day and just under two weeks later said she wanted to represent me. She emailed me last Sunday to tell me after another agent had asked to read the full ms and one had rejected it – it was a crazy night!
I know when I was searching for a agent, I looked online at other writer’s stories to see how they did it, how many rejections they got etc. So, for those interested – I submitted my manuscript to 23 agents, I had 14 rejections, 3 non-responses, 3 asked to read the full manuscript and after I emailed everyone to say an agent had offered to represent me, I got another 3 full ms requests. I found Juliet through Twitter after I had been submitting my ms for nearly three months – I randomly started following Juliet and some of her clients and then looked at her website page. I’d never submitted to her agency before as I thought they didn’t want to see YA books but reading her bio and client list, I thought it was a worth a try. I’m very glad I did :)
This manuscript is the third one that I’ve sent to agents and the fourth one that I’ve written since 2010. I’ve had a lot of rejections and moments when I wondered if I was crazy to be trying to do this. I got enough positive feedback on my last one to push me to really go for it. As most of you know, I decided this year to take a bit of a leap of faith and leave my job in HR and take a year out to write. I left my job the last day of March and I was getting nervous that I’d made a mistake in doing that but yesterday, I took a big step in the right direction. Of course there are no guarantees that my novel will sell but having someone believe in me and my writing means I have the best chance possible for it to.
Thank you to everyone who has supported and encouraged me – this blog has often been my lifeline. And to writers reading this who are trying to find their agent – don’t give up!