Agent #28 – Stabbing In The Dark

…and today’s “thanks-but-no-thanks” was brought to you by agent #22 who was the New York based Australian one I approached a few weeks ago using the “aussieauthor” email address. It was a fairly generic “not right for us but keep trying” response, but hey, at least they replied.

At this point I’m well into my list of possible agents. There are actually no shortage of literary agents working in this country, but once I cut out those who are interested only in non-fiction, or only thrillers and mysteries, or only romance in its various forms, that leaves a much smaller list. Once I’d compiled a list of the agents who specifically listed “historical” in their areas of professional interest – a.k.a. my “A List” – it really came down to about 20 agents all of which I have now approached and been rejected or ignored by.

So at this point I’m approaching agents who have listed “commercial fiction” as an area of interest. That’s a vaaaast umbrella term which covers any sort of stuff that’s made up but which isn’t highbrow (a.k.a. “literary fiction”) and isn’t formulaic (i.e. pretty much all murder mysteries, police procedurals, and thrillers). At least when I was approaching agents who had specifically mentioned they were interested in hearing from authors writing in the historical genre, my stabs in the dark were directed into a small room where I knew a warm body lurked. With the agents I am now approaching, I feel like I’m throwing my knives into a huge warehouse with all the lights off in the hope that there might be someone standing somewhere inside and that I might be lucky to nick them with the end of my blade.

Which brings us to agent #28. I was originally going to query the senior partner in this literary agency of eight agents (which is quite an impressive number for a literary agency.) His (fiction) areas of interest seem to boil down largely to “whatever catches my eye” which is advantageous in that it means he’s open to anything and everything. However, when I read down the list of the seven other agents at this firm, a different agent caught my eye. This guy includes  “historical fiction” in his areas of interest and he’s only been an agent for a couple of years which means he hasn’t yet built a full roster of clients and is perhaps hungrier and more prepared to take a chance on an unknown writer than a more established agent would.

Really, this stabbing-in-the-dark business is all “maybe” and “perhaps” until you hear someone cry out from the shadows, “What the hell…? Who just stabbed me?! And whoever it is, can you send me your first fifty pages?”


About Martin Turnbull

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 and Facebook: "gardenofallahnovels"
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