Literary agent #1 – My maiden voyage

Everything that I’ve read about querying literary agents says not to bombard every agent in the industry at the same time. The scatter shot approach only works when you’re facing a firing squad. Nor should you query one agent at a time – some of them may take months to get back to you. Instead, so they say, you should initially query the half dozen agents with whom you think you might be the best match. Then, when the first one replies, (assuming it’s a ‘No thanks’) send out a query to agent #7 and continue to work your down the list until you hit a “I LOVE IT!” That way you’ll always have half a dozen queries out there in the publishing ethers.

My prodigiously published friend Jim Parish (my go-to guy for all things Hollywood) recommended that I only stick with New York agents. I presume that’s because the publishing industry is still heavily centered there and only agents who are also located in New York will have sufficient contacts to make an impact on your behalf. Being an unpublished author, I don’t know that I can be all that fussy however one must start somewhere. So I’m starting out on my Road to Publication with the NY agents who are listed in the bible – aka Jeff Herman’s Guide to Publishers, Editors and Literary Agents 2010 – as those interested in hearing from authors who have written historical fiction. And the first agent on my list is a NY agent who on one website says, “I also especially love historical fiction of all kinds.” Sounds like he’s my kinda guy. Some agents prefer to be contacted by snail mail and others are the email-only type. But this guy is ‘either/or’ and says that I’ll get a faster response by email so email it is. He also instructs us to copy and paste the first five pages of our manuscript. Done. Wish me luck!

About martinturnbull

The Hollywood's Garden of Allah novels blog is by Martin Turnbull, a Los Angeles based historical fiction author writing about the golden era of Hollywood in his series of novels set at the Garden of Allah Hotel, which stood on Sunset Blvd from 1927 to 1959. Check him out at www.martinturnbull.com and Facebook: "gardenofallahnovels"
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4 Responses to Literary agent #1 – My maiden voyage

  1. Betty says:

    I imagine hitting that first “send” button to the first agent on your list evoked all sorts of emotions–almost akin to facing that proverbial firing squad. I, for one, appreciate your sharing your journey with those of us who wish to vicariously experience your anguish and joys. I’m sure the author of “Wings on Wednesday” experienced the same trials and tribulations. You do realize, don’t you, that everyone who makes a comment on your blog is expecting an autographed copy of the first novel…Keepin’ my fingers crossed for you, Maggie.

    • Ha! You’re right! The author of “Wings on Wednesday” probably did experience the same trials and tribulations that are ahead of me. Somehow that gives me an extra boost of courage to charge ahead! And you’re right…hitting the first “send” to agent #1 was a bit of a “moment”. He’s at the very top of my wish list of agents — if he comes back asking to see the whole thing, you can be certain there’ll be a blog about it!

  2. Shelsta says:

    I LOVE that you’re doing this now, as it marks the start of your New Year!
    I read a Jennifer Byrne article recently (she hosts the ABC – First Tuesday Book Club) – “Spare a thought for today’s authors. Once, their chosen career was a quiet and solitary one; but these days, no writer can have their book published without going through a PR sausage machine not dissimilar to the one we squeeze our pop stars through. And when they emerge, blinking and bruised at the other end, its into a brash modern world of celebrity”.
    I know I’m jumping way ahead – I have genuine nervous excitement as you embark on this process – but you’d do a great celebrity interview!

    • Thanks Shelley! I thought, too, that the beginning of the year was a great time to launch myself into the publishing world and the blogosphere – two for one! You have to give these things a go, don’t you, otherwise you’ll never know where you could have ended up!

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