Friday, 2 May 2008

More agent woe

Well, having decided I'd be better off with a female agent, my soon-to-be-ex male one asked his female business partner if she would represent me and she said no. It's a great shame because I met her once when she came to give a talk to Women Writers' Network and I really liked her. But she wasn't very enthusiastic about my book which, strangely, after saying he knows nothing about the women's commercial fiction market, my male agent likes.

All of which leaves me precisely nowhere, with a book that he encouraged me to write, and me left high and dry with no-one to sell it for me. It's very hard to sell a book these days without an agent. Many publishers won't read submissions from agentless authors. They are bombarded with so many thousands of manuscripts per year that they use agents as a filtering process, which means they could be missing out on brilliant books by writers who haven't found an agent. The whole process is desperately unfair. What publishers should do is employ more freelancers like me to plough through the tottering heaps of manuscripts and give their writers a fair chance.

Once upon a time I had a job reading the slushpile for Scholastic Books, till they decided they couldn't afford to pay £10 an hour for the privilege and were going to do it all in-house. This means that some poor trainee is paid to read the first couple of pages of each and, on this skimpy glimpse, decide their fate. Last time I was in their offices, there were manuscrips literally falling out of cupboards and lying in heaps on the floor. Maybe it's time I offered them my services again. Yet... do I really want to be reading other people's books when I could be writing my own?

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