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.

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


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

An Agent Changes Everything

Sharon Sant

Despite what they would have you believe, most writers want an agent.  It can be argued, in these days of phenomenally successful self-publishers going it alone, that you don’t need one, but I think, deep down, the validation that signing with an agent brings still holds a powerful allure, even for those people. I tried to convince myself, during the early days of my career, that I didn’t need or want an agent. This belief began with a few rejections that I found so painful and damaging to my fragile ego that I resolved never to query again.  I didn’t need to be in the club, I told myself, I could dance all on my own outside and have a perfectly lovely time. In fact, my internal voice continued to babble, I have far more freedom to do whatever I like going it alone. Why would I want someone telling me what I can and cannot write? Why would I want someone imposing their own time restrictions on me? All those things may be true, but since signing with my agent, almost a …

Read more | 5 comments

The Importance of Perseverance

Gilly McAllister

I had no idea on that sunny July morning that my life was about to change. It wasn't a very typical morning, actually. I was on a course all week, not at my desk, and was enjoying the short hours and the socialising. I'd found a nearby independent cafe that sold delicious vanilla lattes and was consuming two a day. At 1pm, idly checking my email on my lunch hour, I saw it. And that's when my life changed. 

But there's a bit of backstory, first. I had written a novel, sporadically, over the preceding few years, and finally queried agents the previous summer. After a few full manuscript requests and quite a lot of angst, it was roundly rejected. I researched the querying process, then, though, and I realised that my rejections weren't absolutely typical. Only a few were form rejections, and most of the others said things like, "send me your next novel, if you write one," and "you write really well, but I'm not sure this has a big enough concept for a debut into publishing." I …

Read more | 4 comments

Ready to Revise & Rewrite for a Literary Agent?

Julia Johnston

The third in a series of five blog posts by Julia Johnston (author of If Everyone Knew Every Plant And Tree) charting her journey from preparing to submit her manuscript to agents, through to the self-publishing of her debut novel.

This week: revising and rewriting for literary agents.

Of the twelve submissions I made to literary agents, two of the four who read the full manuscript were interested. So I chugged up the confidence roller coaster…

There I was in the peculiar and welcome position of two agents giving both positive feedback and much valued suggestions for change at the same time. 

Agent numero uno questioned the inclusion of a ‘horticultural’ theme: ‘With the objective of Oliver being relatable to the target audience, I’m afraid I did question his interest in horticulture.’ He advised me, too, that we don’t actually see that much of it going on. He did say, ‘I know the horticulture element gives you this brilliant title, but I’m afraid I do worry about …

Read more | 13 comments