Three days at the Winchester Writing Conference has left me too exhausted to put fingers to keys. I went to workshops, lectures and had the opportunity of discussing my novel Crucial Evidence with a number of literary agents and authors. I know the publishing industry is struggling with Amazon and the supermarkets cutting the price of books and now the rise and rise of the e-book, but their response seems to me to be inadequate. In order to cut costs they us literary agents as gate-keepers, assuming that they as publishers and agents have the same agenda. During my career at the English Bar, I soon learnt that my clerk, the man who took 10% of my earnings, did not have identical objectives to me. I think the same applies to literary agents. They all say they are looking for some amazing talent, but in fact they want someone who will sell books so they stick to the familiar. I have no doubt that someone will say that it is sour grapes because none of the agents I spoke to wanted to represent me and my novel, but I find that strange when one of the authors whose class I attended described my writing as brilliant, another as marketable and a consultant editor of a major publishing house wanted to read the complete transcript. I wasn’t the only writer with a similar experience. One of the men in the class on ‘Writing a Page Turner’ read out to the class the beginning of his SciFi/Comedy book, which had us all doubled up laughing. The agents he saw told him they found his work incredibly funny, but they didn’t want his book because they wouldn’t know where to place it. Which all suggests thet anything new, different or original will struggle to get published. I think self-publishing is the way forward. Has anyone else had similar experiences
As part of my campaign to find either an agent or a publisher for my book, Crucial Evidence, I am attending the Conference run by the University of Winchester. In addition to workshops on ‘How to write a Page Turner,’ and ‘How to get to Know your Characters’ there is the opportunity to have a ‘One to One’ with a selection of literary agents, editors and authors. I had to choose up to six individuals of whom four could be agents or editors and two authors. I found making a selection from about fifty people difficult. Of course ruling out some-one who has no interest in my genre was the easy bit, it’s not much good sending a crime novel to a poet or an agent who only wants children’s books, but that still left a considerable list from which to choose. Having made my choices I had to put together copies of a letter introducing myself and my novel, a synopsis and a section of the book. No two of the authors, agents or editors want the same thing. The number of pages of the book varies from two chapters, first ten pages, first 3000 words, first three chapters, first 500 words and first chapter. Making sure the right number of pages went with the right letter took me a whole day. Obviously one hopes that one of the agents or editors will love the book, and want to read the complete novel. I went to the same conference about three years ago and saw one agent who loved the sections I had sent her, but by the time I had finished writing the book, she was on maternity leave and her replacement was not so keen. They were very complimentary about my writing, but didn’t want to take it on. I hope I am more sucessful this time. Has anyone got some good advice on getting an agent or is there a problem with an industry in paralysis.
Perhaps the answer is self publishing.