Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Letters to an Agent

Oh dear, it's happened again. For the third time in as many months, someone I previously believed to be a charming and intelligent person has shown me their agent letter and revealed their real self to be an arrogant and demanding, possibly litigious, definitely humourless, buttock-clenchingly, squirm-inducingly, utterly bonkers individual.

I don't know what happens. Agents are, in my experience, hard working people in love with books - they have to be, or they couldn't do the job. They're normal (although I'm sure I once spotted a dorsal fin), so why does it seem so hard to write a normal, straightforward letter introducing yourself and your book in normal, straightforward language? It must be the weight of the thing, summing up possibly years of hard work and hope in a couple of paragraphs. Well, five...

1. Why you're writing to them.
2. Brief summary of your book.
3. Market position of the book.
4. About yourself.
5. Thank you for your time etc (I call this the 'I am not a loony' paragraph).

Pop it all onto one page, and there you are! It's not difficult. Except it is. My first agent letter is the one thing I've never shown to anyone else, so ghastly and needy it is, I might as well have disembowelled myself and sent the contents by Parcel Post. My only excuse is alien abduction. The proof is out there.

7 comments:

Philip C James said...

That made me smile, Sarah.

Sarah Duncan said...

I do try....nice to know when it succeeds!

Karen said...

So funny :o)

I'm still living down the pretty 'book cover' I designed using WordArt, and submitted with my first 3 chapters years ago!

Sarah Duncan said...

Karen - ouch. We all do it...

Derek said...

I suspect it's a little like adolescent dating (while being one, obviously). So much pressure to avoid rejection and not come across as clingy that...well, let's just sy it's the stuff of future writing!

Phillipa said...

Writers' Forum magazine once asked me to show my agent query email. Haw haw!!!! No way, it listed all the things I thought needed fixing with the book. Lord help me, she took me on and sold the book despite the email.

Sarah Duncan said...

Derek - clingy, needy...yup, it's v like dating adolescent or otherwise.

Phillipa - which only goes to show, if you write a darn good book, you can get over a dreadful presentation.