For those of you who wish to write your own novel, but have not yet ventured into the murky waters of publishing, here is a cautionary tale. The literary world is governed by the literary agent. What they say is paramount. Publishers themselves no longer receive manuscripts directly from aspiring authors, preferring to have the preliminary selecting and editing done by allied agents, and the agents themselves are so highly-selective it is almost impossible to break through the ranks.
So, how to get yourself noticed? Rule number one: you need to be a 'celebrity', young, thin, famous and beautiful. If, like me, you score dismally in any of these 'required' fields, then another tack is required. No longer is a veritable work of art, your masterpiece, judged solely on its own individual, literary merit. This has been proven by an experiment run by a leading newspaper in which several past classics, e.g. works of Austen, Dickens, Shakespeare etc., have had their character names changed for obfuscation, then sent to leading literary agents. The result? All were rejected! Clearly, these classics did not have sufficient modern 'celebrity' status to merit further reading.
The music industry, too, is full of young beautiful people, dressed amazingly, dancing attractively, but with absolutely no singing talent whatsoever!! Ever since John Lennon asked his audience to 'rattle their jewellery', the old values have gone. No longer does one respect one's elders, nor does one recognise individual merit if it's allied to someone not fitting the 'celebrity' rules posted above.
As in most industries, the literary agents' world is full of charlatans. The best website I have found is the writersservices.com site, listing the reputable manual 'The Artists and Writers Yearbook'. All the agents listed there are members of the reputed Authors' Association (AAS), and you can search therein for the genres you need, with full contact names, addresses and websites. However, many of these agents state that they are not looking for new writers, and of the ones who do, many will not answer so-called 'unsolicited' approaches, emailed enquiries nor emailed submissions! It appears that each agent's working priority is their own already-contracted clients. All new mss received are put in a giant 'slush pile', to be read by a junior member. Hardly any priority is given to them at all. I suspect that many are simply ditched, and of the remainder, only the first few lines are read, if at all.
So, if by now you haven't become completely disillusioned, read this blog next Sunday to find out exactly how to approach these gods of the literary world. After all, you have slaved and sweated over your mss for aeons and aeons. This is not the time to make a costly mistake.
......................................See next Sunday's blog for what to do next