It Seemed Like Such a Good Idea

I was reading an article online yesterday which made a very sensible suggestion. It said that one of the best ways to reach the right agent for your project was to see which books are like yours and then track down the literary agent responsible for selling that book to a publisher. Seems kind of obvious now that I’ve said it, right?

My problem–sorry, my challenge with this is that, much to my surprise, I’ve not been able to find many novels like mine. You’d think they’d be a ton of them set in Hollywood’s heyday but I could find damn few. There are some but mostly they’re what’s called “genre novels” – murder mystery, thrillers, and perhaps romance and agents tend to specialize in a particular genre. Mine is really more a ‘historical’ so it didn’t get me very far.

Then it occurred to me that if my series of novels was like anything, it was more like Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City” books. They’re a wonderful series of books that follow the lives of a group of close-knit friends who live in San Francisco in the 70s and 80s. A-HA! I thought. My books follow the lives of close-knit friends in LA from the 20s to the 50s. There are parallels so perhaps…perhaps…

So I went to Maupin’s website but no mention of his agent. I googled everything I could think of but came up with zilch. So I looked up the publisher of his latest book, “Mary Ann in Autumn” and emailed them to see if they could tell me. It took a few days but they did and gave me the details of his agent. Great!

Um…not so great. Turns out the company they referred me to was the agent who handles his speaking engagements. So I emailed them to see if I could get details of his literary agent. It also took a few days but they came back to me with the name and company of his literary agent. Great!

Um…not so great. I looked her up on various websites that deal with providing information on literary agents and they all said the same thing: that one dreaded phrase that all us aspiring authors fear the most: “This agent does not currently accept unsolicited queries.

Oh well, it seemed like a good idea and in principle it is, but it appears that I’ve written something that nobody has ever thought of before. Who knew I’m such a pioneering forger of new paths into the literary landscape…?

About Martin Turnbull

The Hollywood's Garden of Allah novels blog is by Martin Turnbull, a Los Angeles based historical fiction author of a series of novels set at the Garden of Allah Hotel, which stood on Sunset Blvd from 1927 to 1959. Check him out at and Facebook: "gardenofallahnovels"
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2 Responses to It Seemed Like Such a Good Idea

  1. Bill Margiotta says:

    Have you tried the literary agent for Erik Larsen, the author of “The Devil in the White City”?

    • Actually no, I hadn’t thought of that. I guess because that book is (a) non-fiction and (b) set in Chicago in (c) the 1890s but whoever it was who agented that book is at least interested in something that happened more than 20 minutes ago! Thanks Bill!

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