Proper Writers Have an Agent - Guest Post by Dennis Zaslona
"Proper writers have an agent."
So said a ‘Top Literary Agent’ (TLA) panel member during a Q&A at a recent international writer’s festival I attended. There followed an immediate low growl from most of the audience. So I guess according to the TLA that made them all, not proper writers. I was one of the growlers. So is TLA right? Am I not a proper writer?
If I don’t write, I become moody. Worse, I start to question the worth of my existence. So I suppose I must be proper in the sense that creating stories and characters is as essential to my well-being as breathing.
But perhaps my writing is too poor to be accepted by an agent. Perhaps this why is I am not proper. I can’t answer this question. I find it hard to judge the quality of my own writing and that is why I go to writer’s groups for genuine crits. What I do know is that I’ve had ‘near misses’, with several agents and the BBC and I’ve won and been short-listed in enough writing competitions to have confidence that my writing is not entirely crap.
Perhaps not being proper may have something to do with not providing the right material to the right agent at the right time. A more acceptable POV ? Not really.
So, I’ve had enough of agents. Nothing personal. They have to make a living and if they don’t see in my submissions the means to help them do that then okay, fair enough. But, how some agents present their rejections and make promises they fail to keep, well that’s another discussion for another time. Maybe under the heading ‘What Makes a Proper Literary Agent?’
So now I’m really going to put my writing to the test and go the indie route and see what actual readers think of my storytelling skills. I’ll give my potential readers the respect they deserve by:
- Having my book proof read and edited by a professional.
- Pay for a professional cover design.
- Submit my novel to a target audience of middle grade readers to review and see what they think. I’ve been told the kids won’t hold back what they think. (gulp).
- Explore the mysteries of appropriate formatting and experience the daunting prospect of building a mailing list, platform etc. I’m not a natural salesman. I’d rather be writing than tweeting and blogging but if needs be then I will. I might even get to like it. Then there is who to publish with and asking for reviews. Aaaargh! One thing at a time.
My novel ‘Secrets and Ghosts’ (working title) will be out in the autumn and I am currently working on the next novel in the series. Any tips from you guys who have already published would be really most welcome.