Agent #23 – Variations on the Theme of Get Lost

I heard from Agent #21 yesterday. She was the one I blogged about referring to how awful it must have been for a woman to have her period in the desert outside Damascus during biblical times. Her response was a polite ‘no.’ I guess my brand of historical fiction isn’t serious enough. Or at least not historical enough. Or perhaps not feminist enough. You can see how crazymaking it can be second-guessing these agents, can’t you?

I’m still waiting on #22 so next up is Agent #23. I found her in the Jeff Herman guide where she’s listed as an agent interested in historical fiction. I was pleased to find that they say on their website their general focus is fiction. So I soon found myself looking through the titles of recent books they’ve shepherded into publication. It was such an impressive list–one of them was The Paris Wife, a recent bestseller telling the story of Hadley, Ernest Hemingway’s first wife during their 1920s years in Paris–that I very suddenly found myself a li-i-i-i-i-ttle bit intimidated. All these books, many of them by debut authors (which is good news for me), were such important books that my initial reaction was “Why bother? My stuff, while it may be good, certainly isn’t in a par with “The Paris Wife” and “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand“, and this agent is clearly very serious about the very serious business of publishing very serious literature.

But then I thought about an interview I read earlier today from one of my writer’s newsletters. It was with an author named Carrie Vaughn and the interview was called “7 Things I Have Learned So Far” (i.e. about getting published.) It’s something this newsletter often does and it’s always interesting to hear what these authors have learned.

One of the seven things was: “Aim high. Keep aiming high. Query your dream agent. Submit to the most prestigious market first.” She also quoted a sci-fi author I’d never heard of – Lois McMaster Bujold – whose character said, “Aim high. You may still miss the target, but at least you won’t shoot your foot off.” I liked that quote so much I posted it on my Facebook page…and I really don’t post that much on Facebook.

At any rate, the point is it gave me the courage to aim for the heavy hitters with the big guns. Yeah, yeah, yeah, she’ll probably come back playing ‘Variations on the Theme of Get Lost’ but if this journey to publication of mine ultimately ends in my never getting published, I’ll be damned if it’s because I didn’t have the cojones to set my sights towards the window at the top of the turret at the top of the castle at the top of the mountain. If I end up drowning in the moat it won’t be because I fell in having shot myself in the foot.

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 Agent #23 – Variations on the Theme of Get Lost

  1. Cheryl Walters says:

    Why shouldn’t you aim high Marty, those of us who know and adore you are already well aware of how fabulously talented you really are. I still hold dear to my heart the stories and poems that you used to write about me back in the Jetset days and who could forgot the “ticket please” story! You are destined to be published so set your intention and believe in it. For those who aren’t clever enough to recognise your talent let me quote them a line from Pretty Woman – you work on commission don’t you? Big big mistake, HUGE!!!!!! Chezzie x

  2. Marlea Evans says:

    I’m in awe of your perseverance. (I sent mine to one agent.) This, “showing up” as Woody Allen called it is the way to get what you want, so here’s cheers to you!!!

    One question: why do I not get these blogs on the day they are written? I got a passel of then in one fell swoop.

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