Agent #45 – The End of the Line at the Bottom of the Page

Today I came to agent #45: the last on my list of agents to be approached. They weren’t supposed to be–there were 4 or 5 more still dangling at the bottom there like impossibly overripe mangoes, a sparrow’s sneeze away from being shaken loose. But in taking a look at the last ones I found that:

  • One of them only deals with historical romance (of the ‘horny Dukes astride sweaty stallions’ variety I talked about with Agent #42)
  • One of them only deals with books focusing on life in the Pacific Northwest (which I thought narrows her market down considerably…not that there aren’t terrifically riveting tales to be told about Tacoma and Spokane…)
  • One had closed themselves off to all submissions (unless by referral, of course, because we all know that the only books worth reading are by the guy who cuts the lawns of the next door neighbor of the hairdresser of the wife whose Pilates instructor used to be college roommates with the girl who now makes the absolute best non-fat faux-mocha double soy lattes in all of Spokane…)
  • And the other one handles about 90% non-fiction and the 10% fiction she does handle is strictly literary fiction, which my book is not. (‘Literary fiction’ is the sort of fiction that resides at the high end of the fiction scale which has been (rather arbitrarily) deemed “important” or “serious” as compared to ‘commercial fiction’ which could be defined as something people actually want to read.)

At any rate, the other four agents left on my list got deleted for one reason or another thus leaving me with only one more to query. And even then I almost didn’t bother because when I looked at their list of authors, they seemed overwhelmingly non-fiction writers. For example:

  • THE DEVIL’S PICNIC: Around the World in Pursuit of Forbidden Fruit
  • THE SECRET LIFE OF DUST: From the Cosmos to the Kitchen Counter, the Big Consequences of Little Things
  • CHASING MATISSE: A Year in France Living My Dream

all three of which sound rather interesting to me, but not really representative of an agent interested in what I’m pushing (increasingly uphill.) But then I saw enough fiction titles sprinkled in among the forbidden fruit, the dust and the Matisse paintings to encourage me to give this last agent a go too. Agent #45 doesn’t accept emails; they only have an online form to fill out which meant rearranging my approach because the various fields I had to fill out didn’t necessarily fit with the way I’d structured my query letter.

For instance they allowed a maximum of 50,000 characters for the author biography. I didn’t really have anything like that because I’ve never had anything published beyond a letter to the editor of the TV Week magazine back in Australia in 1976…and something tells me that doesn’t really count. So I sort of made one up which went for all of 120 characters…149 if you count the spaces in between. It looked so pathetic that I almost deleted the whole damned thing but decided that something in that box was better than nothing. Marginally, perhaps, but better nonetheless.

Aside from this agent, I’ve got 7 agents I still haven’t heard back from. Most of them are of the “We’ll be in contact only if we’re interested” variety which I usually give a month. By this time next week, assuming I don’t hear back from any of them, I’ll be down to 3 agents.

So, blogfans, that’s where I stand. And if I get to this time next month and have heard back from them all with a deafening “NO!” I’ll move on to ‘Plan B.’ In case you think I’m making all this up as I go along, I actually really truly have a Plan B but that shall be a topic of another blog…over a non-fat faux-mocha double soy latte…in Spokane…


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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