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I need a literary agent. Recommendations anyone?

Discussion in 'Personal' started by Wanda_the_Wonder, Aug 10, 2020.

  1. Wanda_the_Wonder

    Wanda_the_Wonder Occasional commenter

    This week I finish my lockdown novel. Now to getting it published. I'm told it's foolish to try without a literary agent. Any Tessers out there with first-hand experience of a good agent for fiction - loosely spiritual/mystical fiction?

    The opening pages of my novel:

    The world changed on that day that I asked, “How could I have been such a total fool?”


    That morning I looked out the bedroom window. It was still dark but there was a hint of dawn light streaking from the east. The stars were beginning to disappear although Venus was still shining bright, low on the horizon.

    I showered and shaved and made myself a breakfast of Blue Mountain Jamaican coffee and buttered toast. I put on my overcoat and went out as the sun was coming up. It was quite cold and the first rays of sunlight glistened through crystals of frost on the tufted grass along the edge of the park, and frozen dew droplets sparkled brilliantly through the vivid, Van Gogh-yellow dazzle of the full-blooming azalea bushes.

    I turned into High Street and there before me was my full-length reflection in Marks & Spencer’s window. I stood before my elongated reflection and asked myself, “How could I have been such a total fool?”

    I strolled on and stopped in front of ‘The Early Morning Café’. Another black coffee might be justified on a morning like this.

    I listlessly sipped my coffee listening to the slightly surreal conversation between two boiler-suited, fluorescent-jerkined street cleaners at a nearby table… ‘Swear to God everything about that man is phony and false. When he got divorced his ex-missus discovered the diamond ring he had given her was a fake. I saw him down in Kent after he moved out. He was prancing around in his Fila tracksuit practicing javelin throws. He had a Doberman retrieve the javelin for him after each throw. Lazy, good-for-nothing ****.’ ’Yep,’ his companion contributed, ‘that guy is as fake as a nine bob note. All mouth and no trousers. He wangled his way into getting that job as a supervisor by the most boot-licking grovelling you can imagine. Remember when he went to the Notting Hill Carnival and for days after was talking like a Rasta? Never so utterly fake. Even for him. How people can’t see through him is beyond me. A man like that is about as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike.’

    I got up, waved Goodbye/thanks to the waitress and just as I came out the café door the bells of St Augustine’s church rang and I decided what I would do: I would move to the seaside. I would sell my fat—where I had lived since my divorce—life would move on; tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

    I walked down the High Street and into the estate agents Casalaspirito and Co. just as they were opening for business. A young lady behind the reception desk in the open-plan office eyed me warily as I was bleary-eyed from the sleepless night, unshaven and—in something very unusual for me—was eccentrically dressed, having pulled on my expensively tailored, double-breasted overcoat over a slightly torn sweatshirt and tracksuit bottoms. Plus, I was wearing dusty, long-laced rock-climbing shoes—probably the ultimate sartorial faux pas. Seated at another desk a slick-suited young man with short hair sculpted in place with gel glanced at me absently and then averted his eyes saying into the phone receiver cradled between his shoulder and chin, ‘I repeat. A verbal contract is not worth the paper it isn’t written on. My game plan: slap an injunction on him right away. He won’t know what’s hit him. Squash the verbal agreement and he has no more rights than a squatter.’

    I found this harsh and upsetting and on another day I would have taken issue with Mr. Hair Gel. But this morning my mind was on very personal preoccupations and much was being excluded. My mind was made up from that moment that I’d heard the bells of St Augustine’s ring as I had come out The Early Morning Café door, and I did not falter at taking the next step. Less than fifteen minutes later I had handed over my spare set of keys and arranged for my apartment to be sold.

    On my way home I walked for a while along the banks of the Grand Union Canal. It was wet in patches along the towpath as the skirting of early morning frost had melted and a vague, wispy rime seemed to linger and hang in the damp air along the banks above the murky canal water. Everything was quite still and silent, with the silence suddenly fractured when a factory siren screeched shrill in the distance. A magpie flapped down. It flapped wearily and alighted heavily on the remains of a partly submerged broken wooden pallet. A very old man was leaning bent over the canal edge and throwing crusts of bread to two forlorn-looking ducks circling in the feculent, dirty-green water. His long, silky white hair flowed out from beneath a navy beret cap. He threw the last of his bread crusts, straightened up and began to sing. He sang in a lilting, mournful tone:


    No bluebirds will fly,

    No seagulls over white cliffs cry.

    No swallows fly by.

    White cliffs, white cliffs, gloom won’t lift,

    This mood won’t shift.

    A chimney without smoke,

    Is like a man without breath.

    No light, no sunshine,

    Just darkness and death.


    As I passed him he called out, ‘Good morning, skipper. Have you ever heard a song called Broken Hearted Melody?’
     
  2. Wanda_the_Wonder

    Wanda_the_Wonder Occasional commenter

    I should add that someone will no doubt ask why I haven't consulted the Artist &Writers Yearbook. I have. But I believe that first-and experience is always invaluable. Therefore, I am sure I will hear from some Tesser who can help.
     
  3. Wanda_the_Wonder

    Wanda_the_Wonder Occasional commenter

    Let's ask again. Maybe someone out there can help? Thanking that kind soul in advance.
     
  4. Katzenjammer

    Katzenjammer Senior commenter

    I printed this out and sent it to the parent of an ex-student of mine for an opinion. This person has an international reputation as a writer - thirty five novels and also many television and film adaptations which again have attracted international attention.

    The response was [verbatim]:

    "If you weren't an old friend of mine I would have told you to p*** off for wasting my time. This is un-publishable; this woman cannot write, sorry."
     
  5. Wanda_the_Wonder

    Wanda_the_Wonder Occasional commenter

    Blatant fabrication. No such person said anything of the kind.
     
    Kandahar likes this.
  6. gainly

    gainly Star commenter

    Why after having shaved in paragraph 3 are you unshaven later on? How much money were you hoping to raise by selling your fat? Are you very overweight?
     
  7. racroesus

    racroesus Star commenter

    One of those black chin by 3pm people.
     
    nomad likes this.
  8. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    :D
     
  9. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    Mathematicians have the phrase "There are lies, damn lies and statistics."

    I suspect literary agents have the phrase "There is bolleaux, utter bolleaux and..."

    Just a thought.
     
  10. Burndenpark

    Burndenpark Star commenter

    Gene- I always enjoy reading your literary efforts. I gives me solace that even if I can't sell mine, there's someone out there, compared to who's, my efforts seem decent.
     
  11. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    Good to see that the author's latest MS so effortlessly plumbs the flocculent depths of bolleauxity sounded by his previous achievements. May I suggest more lockdown? Is the Scrubs still in business?
     
    ilovesooty and mothorchid like this.
  12. Kandahar

    Kandahar Star commenter

    James Joyce.
     
    nomad, agathamorse and sbkrobson like this.
  13. Wanda_the_Wonder

    Wanda_the_Wonder Occasional commenter

    I detect quite some jealousy. When critics pick out typos from a first draft you know that they are just jealous about quality of the writing.

    Herewith amended version:


    The world changed on that day that I asked, “How could I have been such a total fool?”


    That morning I looked out the bedroom window. It was still dark but there was a hint of dawn light streaking from the east. The stars were beginning to disappear although Venus was still shining bright, low on the horizon.

    I showered and made myself a breakfast of Blue Mountain Jamaican coffee and buttered toast. I put on my overcoat and went out as the sun was coming up. It was quite cold and the first rays of sunlight glistened through crystals of frost on the tufted grass along the edge of the park, and frozen dew droplets sparkled brilliantly through the vivid, Van Gogh-yellow dazzle of the full-blooming azalea bushes.

    I turned into High Street and there before me was my full-length reflection in Marks & Spencer’s window. I stood before my elongated reflection and asked myself, “How could I have been such a total fool?”

    I strolled on and stopped in front of ‘The Early Morning Café’. Another black coffee might be justified on a morning like this.

    I listlessly sipped my coffee listening to the slightly surreal conversation between two boiler-suited, fluorescent-jerkined street cleaners at a nearby table… ‘Swear to God everything about that man is phony and false. When he got divorced his ex-missus discovered the diamond ring he had given her was a fake. I saw him down in Kent after he moved out. He was prancing around in his Fila tracksuit practicing javelin throws. He had a Doberman retrieve the javelin for him after each throw. Lazy, good-for-nothing ****.’ ’Yep,’ his companion contributed, ‘that guy is as fake as a nine bob note. All mouth and no trousers. He wangled his way into getting that job as a supervisor by the most boot-licking grovelling you can imagine. Remember when he went to the Notting Hill Carnival and for days after was talking like a Rasta? Never so utterly fake. Even for him. How people can’t see through him is beyond me. A man like that is about as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike.’

    I got up, waved Goodbye/thanks to the waitress and just as I came out the café door the bells of St Augustine’s church rang and I decided what I would do: I would move to the seaside. I would sell my flat—where I had lived since my divorce—life would move on; tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

    I walked down the High Street and into the estate agents Casalaspirito and Co. just as they were opening for business. A young lady behind the reception desk in the open-plan office eyed me warily as I was bleary-eyed from the sleepless night, unshaven and—in something very unusual for me—was eccentrically dressed, having pulled on my expensively tailored, double-breasted overcoat over a slightly torn sweatshirt and tracksuit bottoms. Plus, I was wearing dusty, long-laced rock-climbing shoes—probably the ultimate sartorial faux pas. Seated at another desk a slick-suited young man with short hair sculpted in place with gel glanced at me absently and then averted his eyes saying into the phone receiver cradled between his shoulder and chin, ‘I repeat. A verbal contract is not worth the paper it isn’t written on. My game plan: slap an injunction on him right away. He won’t know what’s hit him. Squash the verbal agreement and he has no more rights than a squatter.’

    I found this harsh and upsetting and on another day I would have taken issue with Mr. Hair Gel. But this morning my mind was on very personal preoccupations and much was being excluded. My mind was made up from that moment that I’d heard the bells of St Augustine’s ring as I had come out The Early Morning Café door, and I did not falter at taking the next step. Less than fifteen minutes later I had handed over my spare set of keys and arranged for my apartment to be sold.

    On my way home I walked for a while along the banks of the Grand Union Canal. It was wet in patches along the towpath as the skirting of early morning frost had melted and a vague, wispy rime seemed to linger and hang in the damp air along the banks above the murky canal water. Everything was quite still and silent, with the silence suddenly fractured when a factory siren screeched shrill in the distance. A magpie flapped down. It flapped wearily and alighted heavily on the remains of a partly submerged broken wooden pallet. A very old man was leaning bent over the canal edge and throwing crusts of bread to two forlorn-looking ducks circling in the feculent, dirty-green water. His long, silky white hair flowed out from beneath a navy beret cap. He threw the last of his bread crusts, straightened up and began to sing. He sang in a lilting, mournful tone:


    No bluebirds will fly,

    No seagulls over white cliffs cry.

    No swallows fly by.

    White cliffs, white cliffs, gloom won’t lift,

    This mood won’t shift.

    A chimney without smoke,

    Is like a man without breath.

    No light, no sunshine,

    Just darkness and death.


    As I passed him he called out, ‘Good morning, skipper. Have you ever heard a song called Broken Hearted Melody?’
     
  14. Nellyfuf2

    Nellyfuf2 Lead commenter

    Self publish. Big publishers are not doing well and small independents are going out of business. The world has changed.
    Anyone can publish a book ( and anyone can sing in a band)
    Dad bands. Mum books.
    The upside of self publishing (or vanity publishing as it is properly called) is you get to retain all your rights and royalities etc. The downside is, you will make no money.
    Unless you are good at publicity and can organise your own rollling road show - tour the country singing books and giving talks etc. It's not a great time for that sort of thing.
    Digital publishing - use Draft2Digital - it's free and takes minutes to do. You get an ISBN from them and they market across the globe. You can also opt with them to get on Amazon Kindle - which is far far easier than getting it onto Kindle with Amazon. Which starts wtih - first watch this short Webinar........
    So there you go. Just do it.
    Then CLOC print can churn you out a few prints if you like - you just export to them as PDF text and cover and they will sort it all out. Free pricing on their website. It takes minutes to do. Just do it. (You will need to buy your own ISBN though in this route. But that is fun and you get to fill out the forms online for all sorts and send your book to the British Library at Thorpe Arch).
    OK no editor, no cover designer etc etc etc. But you get a lovely Christmas present for all your friends. They might not be your friends afterwards though?
     
    TCSC47 likes this.
  15. Wanda_the_Wonder

    Wanda_the_Wonder Occasional commenter

    "They might not be your friends afterwards though?"

    Indeed! Jealousy knows no bounds.

    Thanks for your advice "Nellyfuf2 . I will still try the traditional route however.

    I have had the MS read by someone I trust. The intelligent feedback I received gives me confidence.

    Interesting that James Joyce has been mentioned here. He's my literary hero.
     
  16. Nellyfuf2

    Nellyfuf2 Lead commenter

    signing books that should say - not singing them........
    Here is my Covid Novel -

    ‘What’s tha cursing fer, now, tha’s jumping at shadows! Guilty conscience tha has then – tha’s an auld git,’ hissed the other man.

    ‘Aye. So thou says. And it’s a body mind, that I’ve sat on,’ whispered the first. ‘what does nay mind the insult and tis a corpse.’

    ‘A corpse,’ whispered the other. ‘What? A dead one!’ The unhappy discoverer sat trembling now and both the crouching men, signalled to quiet by the horseman, waited until the coach had passed them and began to head at speed into the distant village. The horseman swung himself down and came to examine the discovery.

    She lay stretched fully out, with a small pack of hay under her head, and rolled beside her, were her gown, her bonnet and her shoes. Dressed only in her shift and seeming as if she had laid down in her own bed, an old woman lay serene, still and very dead.
     
  17. Nellyfuf2

    Nellyfuf2 Lead commenter

    And me other Covid Novel

    ‘Mr. Smyth sir? I am Mr. Abbey, sometime of Wortley in Leeds. Agent to the Bateson House in Hull you see. If I may assist?’

    John Smyth turned his woe begone face to Phillip but looked past the young man, hoping for substantial help. A voice from the carriage called peevishly. ‘What is happening John. We are all on top of each other. Ow, my hat. Oh Lord!’ There followed a little screaming which sent a ripple of excitement through the onlookers.

    ‘Mr. Smyth, if you would permit me to remark, there is a blacksmith’s shop just on the next road.’ John Smyth looked at Phillip now and finally decided to fix his hat to his head.

    ‘Thank you. Thank you – what did you say your name was young man? Well thank you Mr. Abbey.’ Smyth looked up and down the street as if a smith would materialise without further human agency. Phillip realised that he must be of more effective assistance. He called to the coach driver. ‘You there! Come here.’ Phillip grabbed an urchin by the shoulder and thrust the ragged child forward, explaining the need for a smith. A little party set off to seek rescue. Several interested parties came nearer, to more closely examine the accident and in case there was anything horrid to be seen. Phillip took John Smyth by the arm and led him towards the carriage.
     
  18. Nellyfuf2

    Nellyfuf2 Lead commenter

    Oh I forgot to say that you will get some moneys from Draft2Digital if you sell any copies - digital copies - 75% I think of the list price. This will involve filling out US tax forms which is lots of fun. What else? Oh convert your copy into book form on your computer and add page numbers etc. Then make it into a PDF etc.

    Imagine if all of us, had written a book rather than spent our lives churning out planning, policies and reports? It would be a lot of books.
     
    agathamorse likes this.
  19. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    There is a difference between self publishing and vanity publishing. The former doesn't necessarily involve any outlay at all if you simply publish a Kindle book. An outfit such as Amazon Create Space will also produce a good quality paper copy at a reasonable rate. Vanity publishers will charge a lot more for doing a lot less.
     
    Burndenpark likes this.
  20. nizebaby

    nizebaby Star commenter

    I'm currently ploughing my way through 650 poems that I've agreed to list as yeses, maybes and clunkers.

    Earlier this year I agreed to read an historical novel written by a
    friend. It was an embarrassing experience.

    Wanda. Change the first word to the. There are too many thats in your first few lines.
     

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