Sign up to the newsletter

Literary Agents

If you want your manuscript traditionally published, the best way to do this is to find a literary agent to represent your work. In these blogs, hear directly from agents on what makes a successful submission.

5 Things Writers Can Do During The Submission Stage

Writers aren’t supposed to talk about the submission stage - the anxious time when agents send projects to hand-picked commissioning editors - but I think it would be useful to include here some of my experiences and some tips for what writers can do to prepare.

Writers’ journeys to publication rarely end in a 12-auction fairytale, no matter how often you scan The Bookseller headlines. I’ve learned that when a commissioning editor loves your writing, he or she usually must convince colleagues in Sales, Marketing, PR and Publicity and go through their in-house acquisition process. There are no guarantees except the prospect of a long wait, because like any other workplace, key people are away, offspring become sick and meetings are rescheduled. Just like the agents-querying stage, it demands resilience and the ability to focus on what really matters: your writing.

In the few weeks since my agent submitted my novel to a small number of publishers, we have received warm expressions …

Read more | 0 comments

Taking Stock After Shortlisting Success

Since signing with a literary agency a few weeks ago, my novel seems to have developed a momentum of its own. It’s been shortlisted in the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Award and after giving me editorial notes and the opportunity to ‘cut and dig deeper,’ my agents now feel that it is ready to submit to publishers. I know that ready does not mean the same as finished; there will be many more revisions to come and an exciting part of that will be hearing how different readers respond. I feel lightheaded at the prospect, but it is also a moment to take stock.

Soon after the shortlisting announcement, I spoke to the mother of a boy I used to teach. I asked formally for her permission to dedicate my novel to her wonderful son, Mahad, who was brutally murdered in 2017. It was a painful conversation and very different to the ones we’d had years ago. She and I spoke almost daily in the playground when Mahad was ten years old, at the beginning and end of each school day during my teaching …

Read more | 0 comments

From Idea To Agent

In the first of her blog series for W&A, author Nicola Garrard shares her journey of getting an agent...

If you had asked me, just two weeks ago, how my submissions to literary agents were going, I would have said, ‘Fingers still crossed… should hear in three months.’ I had been sending off my submissions in batches of six and hoping for the best. It looked doubtful; I hadn’t paid for a Creative Writing MA, hired an editor or attended a writers’ retreat. My total spend on my writing career to date had comprised £17 on a copy of the Writers' & Artists’ Yearbook, £20 on a bargain Writers & Artists’ ‘How to Submit your Manuscript’ event in London.

The next week, everything changed.

Two emails appeared in my inbox from agents asking to see the full manuscript and two offering representation. 

A day later, an agent telephoned me. 

I had gone from what felt like months of encouraging rejections, to the kind of interest (and delicious lunches) I had only …

Read more | 1 comments

Multiple Submissions - A Writer's View

Writing advice

Multiple submissions. Traditionally, agents don’t like them. But nowadays, most accept that aspiring writers make a practice of them. In all honesty, it’s unreasonable to expect otherwise. Given the sheer volume of submissions agents receive, it’s impossible for them to implement a quick turnaround. And given the number of rejections I, as a writer, am likely to receive on my journey towards representation, it could hold me back years if I waited for each submission to be considered one at a time. Multiple submissions it is, then, though I will always out of courtesy let an agent know I’m submitting elsewhere.

How many, exactly, constitutes multiple? Some people advocate playing the numbers game, believing that the largest outlay will bring in the greatest return. It isn’t uncommon for writers to submit to twenty agents at a time. (One writer I met recently had a business idea for block mailing query letters on behalf of aspiring authors to agents around the …

Read more | 2 comments

The Waiting Game: What To Do After Finally Submitting Your Manuscript

Writing

I dreamed of the day I would hold my finished novel in my hand, ready to be sent off into the world to land on mountainous slush piles and into the bursting email inboxes of literary agents. 

‘Oh, I shall dance and stand victoriously on the dining table!’ I thought. ‘Then I’ll throw up the sash and just like Scrooge, I’ll shout, “Hey, you boy! I have written a book! A novel. Go to the butchery and buy the biggest goose they have to celebrate and feed the town!” Yes, nothing will be able to shake me. It’ll be nothing but smiles and excitement, for I would have written a book. That was something I was definitely prepared for. 

However, something I certainly was not prepared for, was the rollercoaster that is the submission process; the excitement of pressing send, the burst of unshakable, proud belief in your work as it hurtles towards the inbox of a chosen literary agent, and then the minutely refreshes of email, the grief of missing your characters, and the …

Read more | 9 comments