Agent #36 – The Answer To Everything

It appears that I am now in possession of the Answer To Everything. Over the past few days I’ve been battling worserer-than-usual jetlag which, at its worst, has prevented me from thinking straight. I couldn’t face another night of not falling asleep until 3am so last night before bed I took a couple of Tylenol PMs and the next thing I knew it was 6am. Ah sweet mystery of life at last I’ve found you… Without a good night’s sleep it’s hard to do anything right and that, I’ve decided, is the answer to everything.

This morning I went through my list of agents I’ve approached and haven’t heard back from and crossed off #31 whom I queried a month ago. I should have crossed her off my list immediately – hers was the query I sent in the wrong format (the one that doesn’t cope with punctuation marks…although why anyone would release an email program which has conniption fits over quotation marks and semicolons is unfathomable if you ask me…) So it’s no great shock to the system to find that she hasn’t replied. The poor thing probably didn’t even get halfway through my second paragraph before she deleted me from her life and hit the streets in search of New Jersey’s answer to Sprinkles Cupcakes and, quite frankly, who’d blame her?

So onto agent #36. I’m still working my way through the New York based agents. Although I’ve had better success with the L.A. ones, it does make sense to stick with the ones who are in the same city where 97% of publishing decisions are made. (For the record I made that figure up but that’s certainly what it feels like.) I’ve targeted a specific agent in this agency because she said that she specifically likes “…books with cultural or contemporary touchstones (reimaginings, historical fiction, fiction based on legend or myth…)” My novel is set in the golden years of Hollywood and I’d argue that more legends and myths came out of that period than the heydays of Greece, Egypt, Rome and Disneyland combined.

Agents nearly always list the books they’ve assisted in bringing to publication so when you approach an agent, it’s a good thing to check out their titles. The aim is to find a title or two whose themes or setting or characters are similar to your own. It shows that (a) if they agented that book, they’re probably open to considering yours too, and (b) you’ve done your research and spent a bit of time looking into who and what they’re about and haven’t just eenie-meenie-miny-mo’d them off some arbitrary list. When I looked at the long list of books on this particular agency’s website, I didn’t see anything that would help me, but I did see some that made me laugh:
– “The Hearse You Came In On”
– “The Fourth Trimester – And You Thought Labor Was Hard”
– “The Angry Black Woman’s Guide To Life”
– “So You Want to Be a Lesbian?”

So clearly somebody at this literary agency’s got a sassy ol’ sense of humor…but if they were standing in line at Sprinkles, would they go for the Peanut Butter Chocolate or the Lemon Coconut? Find the answer to that, and you really do have the Answer To Everything.


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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