Friday, 29 March 2013

Finding An Agent: The Writer's Holy Grail?

I've been writing for... let's just say a long time. Somewhere on the way I purchased my Writers' & Artists' Yearbook  and read that the first and most essential writer's accessory was the Literary Agent. It made sense. Literary Agents had access to publishers, and I did not. So, I prettied up the novels, sent them out to a few agents with names mostly in the A-Cs, and waited for the offers; celebrations would involve bubbles.

Rejections poured in, or worse, nothing at all. First and second novels beat a hasty retreat to the back of the drawer; I regrouped.

I bought more books, this time on the craft of writing. I read literature I loved with a different kind of attention. I enrolled in workshops and classes, and the next novel, Peter Peter, was one I was proud of. Again I sent it out. This time responses were more positive, sometimes falling into the 'rave rejection' category, but the consensus was that its unconventional, somewhat episodic structure, and its (relatively) quiet plot, made for a difficult sell. [Don't worry, Peter, I'm still keeping the faith.] But I was working on my next novel, Michaelangelos, too busy to be too disappointed. I finished it and sent it out to the 3 or 4 agents and publishers who were kind enough to offer to read it having rejected Peter Peter. And yesterday, I received 'the phone-call' from Ger Nichol; I have finally acquired an agent.

It is a wonderful feeling to receive recognition for one's writing, especially when it comes from a professional who is prepared to promote and defend it. I am looking forward to working on the manuscript with her; already I like her suggestions and her presentation of them.

But is it the holy grail I expected? It is one less not-actually-writing, writing-related activity to worry about, and one more step on the path to publication which, in my head, represents the justification for the time I spend not doing housework, not being the yummiest mummy on the block, not out earning an honest crust. More than anything, it's a relief.


  1. Well done! Definitely a huge step forward and one to celebrate. Easter eggs and champagne...

  2. don't wish to rain on your parade but I was in your shoes a few years ago when Ger took me on. I remember the phone call and walking on air, and finally when I came back down to earth, worked like trojans tidying up my MS. Gerboth thought it was brill (to quote her - "I'm chomping at the bit to get it to the publishers!", but we couldn't convince them, hence my beloved "baby" WALKING ON MARSHMALLOWS" now lies fallow. I did self-publish, but it's like swimming into a huge continuation of tsumani waves. How did you do in the end? I'd be intrigued to know - did she come through for you. I never actually met her as I am in the UK, but she sounded wonderful on the phone. Still to this day I ache with disappointment. Would love to hear from you. Best wishes Janey Edkins

    1. Hi Janey, Sorry to hear your book didn't find the home you'd hoped for, but well done on getting it out there anyway, and the best of luck with it. (I was more fortunate in that Ger landed mine onto the right desk at the right time.) Best, Paula

    2. Well done Paula ! Although I am "well-jeal!" ; )
      It's a tough business so you must be so proud of yourself. How is Ger? I loved her to bits; she sounded like an absolute dote. Give her my best! In the meantime I'm going to have a wee look on line for your books and I might even be tempted to download. All the very, very best to you, and I do love it when there is a happy ending. Best Janey