Wednesday, 17 July 2013

What do Agents and Publishers Need?

What is the one thing literary agents and publishers can't do without? Surely the answer to that is writers. Without us they would lose their business, their sources of income and their lifestyles. We are their raw material, on which everything else depends, so why do they treat us the way they do?

First of all there is the general assumption that we, the creative ones, must package our work the way they want us to. The query letter must entice, the synopsis must be the right length, the right tone, the right voice. Never mind that both those forms of writing are amazingly hard to get right, and do not necessarily indicate that you are a good writer of fiction, this is the first hurdle that must be negotiated. Why is it not possible simply to say "Here is my novel, do you like it?" After all it is the novel that will be sold to the readers, not the synopsis or the covering letter, or the CV.

Speaking of which this too seems to be crucial. Surely all that anyone needs to know is whether I can write a good book and follow it up with another. A list of previous publications, if any could suffice and if I'm brand new to this game then you either like my work enough to take the risk, or you don't. Whether I am married, bake muffins or kill sharks in my spare time is surely irrelevant.

Assuming that you have done all this and fingers crossed, heart thumping, stomach churning you have sent off your work what happens next?

Mostly nothing. A few agents and publishers will acknowledge your e mail. Many won't.

Then you wait. And wait. And wait.

And wait some more.

If they like your work, they ask to see more and great celebrations and rejoicings take place.

If however they do not, then..............


And more nothing.

OK. They don't like it. But surely they can at least e-mail  a "Thanks, but no thanks".

It takes seconds. It's only polite. It's treating you like a fellow member of the human race with hopes and feelings.

It also might be one way of not alienating a possible source of income.

After all in this day and age, sick of being treated as if they don't matter how many successful writers have gone on to sell huge numbers of e-books and all without recourse to a single agent or publisher?

1 comment:

  1. I agree completely Misha. They have played God for too long. I hope that with the advent of the ebook they are going to have to be a little more polite.