Wednesday, November 04, 2015

No Literary Agent Is Better Than A Bad Literary Agent

Somewhere out there is Robert G., a writer who probably thought he hit the big time when he landed literary agent Faye Swetky to represent him. At last, he got his foot in the door of publishing. A champion was on his side, promoting his works to publishers who would read the agent's cover letter and be intrigued enough to read the synopsis and then, yes, and then, ask for the manuscript.

Somewhere out there are those who do their research on literary agents, to determine if the agent they are querying is really going to be able to get a manuscript inside a publishing house, large or small. These writers monitor forums at places where other writers like to loiter, sites like where literary agents are vetted.

It's pretty apparent that Robert G., aspiring writer, did not perform this wearying task. If he had, he would not have accepted Ms. Swetky's offer of representation. And Ms. Swetky would not have shot off a query, with synopsis, to Newcastlewest Books to consider Mr. G.'s work of mainstream contemporary erotica.

No sex, please. We're a bunch of Irish Catholics here and the last thing we'd be interested in would be a piece of fiction that falls into the erotica category.

A perusal of our website would give anyone a very good idea of what sorts of books we do publish. You won't find a single bit of erotica there, not at all, at all.

Our new imprint, CITY THAT WORKS, does publish contemporary fiction, but again there's no smut. And, by the way, the fiction is still within our niche of Irish influenced writing. Sorry, Mr. G., but not one of the characters in your synopsis seem to be particularly Hibernian.

Robert G. sits in his writing place, eagerly anticipating news from his agent Faye Swetky. He will wait in vain, unless she finds some small publisher of erotica who doesn't require a literary agent to submit manuscripts. In that case, he will pay for something he could just as easily have done himself.

In the meantime, his erotic fiction goes nowhere when he could have spent his time finding an agent with a track record of sales. The manuscript will languish because he has opted to go with a bad agent when he would have been better off without one.

Not everyone who calls themself a literary agent is one.

I could respond to Ms. Swetky's missive and explain to her that we don't publish what she is selling, and by the way we don't look at manuscripts unless they come to us from a referral or a recommendation. But I have too many other things to do and not enough time to do them all, without adding another pointless task.

So, Robert G., know that your agent is submitting your manuscript. She isn't targeting specific publishers or calling around to contacts she has developed among the editors. A blanket e-mailing isn't agenting. Long ago in the dark ages before the Internet was filled with information, plenty of writers got snagged by those who thought it was easy to sell fiction. There's no excuse these days, when Google is your friend and Yahoo or Bing are there for your safety.

Use the force, Robert G.

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