Adventures in writing…thoughts about agents

I’ve just read yet another post on how to ‘get an agent’.
It was interesting and well written, as these things often are, and no doubt will help a lot of people who are still struggling with the mechanics of how to approach an agent.
All the usual stuff was there:
Once you’re got your list of agents, find out what their submission guidelines are, if they accept your genre, how you should lay out your query letter… all of it good, sound advice.
But there are two things missing, in my humble opinion.
One, your book has to have at its heart a damned good story. One that will keep readers turning the pages and, when they come to that final page, they sit back and think, ‘Wow, I never wanted that to end’.
And two, it should be well written.
No amount of trawling through websites and redrafting of letters is ever going to make you into a writer unless you have something to say, and you can say it well.

Most of the above, of course, is why a lot of people turn to self-publishing.
However, I’m not one of them. For reasons I’ve stated before, that is not the path for me.
Don’t get me wrong, I hate the entire process of submissions followed by the inevitability of being rejected. What I particularly hate is the use of the word ‘pitch’. It embraces everything I despise in our modern world. The corporate jargon that forces us – or, at least attempts to mould us into salespeople, hard-nosed, aware of the market place. God I hate all of that. However, I think it is misleading in some respects, to constantly hammer on about the importance of making a good first impression with this ‘pitch’. Surely, that comes from how you write? If we’re writers, can’t we produce a good, simple and to the point query letter? Isn’t the opening chapter so much more important? Any agent worth their salt should be able to see immediately if you can string your words together. The biggest hurdle I feel is whether or not your work fits in with their ‘current needs’ or ‘what the market is’. I’m not convinced that the ‘pitch’ has much to do with this. And besides, if you’re passionate about what you’ve written, why not simply say ‘why’. What inspired you to write it in the first place, and what inspires you to carry on an write another one?
Oh well. The only thing to do is to keep plugging on.
varangian and burnt
As for myself, at present I have a few projects in hand. I am writing the sequel to ‘VARANGIAN’, which will take Hardrada’s story up to when he returned to Norway. I’m 60,000 words in, so still have some way to go. Laced in-between are all sorts of sub-plots to do with Maniakes, Nikolias, Leoni and, a new ‘villain’, a chap called Sclerus who wishes to worm his way into power. I hope it’s all good stuff, and the research has so far thrown up all sorts of super interesting facts which I can utilise.

I’m also putting the finishing touches to my final draft before submission of my latest contemporary thriller, entitled ‘Whipped Up’, the follow-up to ‘Burned Offerings’. Then, I’ll be turning my hand to submitting ‘Don Luis and the Ogre’s Lament’ which I will be submitting to ‘Richard and Judy’s Book competition’. We’ll see. It may not be what they are looking for, but I think it’s a good story, re-worked with new scenes.
Reviews are slowly coming in for ‘Varangian’, and so far the feedback is very positive. But I need more! So, if you have read the book, or have bought it – for which I send my thanks – please write a review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Smashwords. Reviews really do help an author.
Catch up with where to get my books from my website: http://www.stuartgyates.com
And, you can read some extended excerpts right here from the ‘Eat. Sleep, Write’ website of Adam Scull: http://eatsleepwrite.net/varangian5

Thank you for all your support and, please, whatever you do, keep reading!

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4 Comments

Filed under fiction writing

4 responses to “Adventures in writing…thoughts about agents

  1. Some good points here but you may be a bit off on what an agent is looking for. A good story well told is all fine and dandy and certainly the ultimate goal however, if you happen to have a sorta-kinda good story, sorta kinda well told that an agent thinks the marketing department of one of the traditional publishers could market it, that will always trump an excellent story well told. With the traditional publishing route, it ain’t about the story or the quality of the craft, it’s about whether the story is considered marketable. Quality, sadly, has little to do with it.

    • I don’t agree. I think once we start going down that route we are not being true to ourselves, and what we believe ourselves to be. Artists. Sure, if you want to go with the flock, research your market, and create a heap of crap, that’s great whilst you sit back and count your money, but that ain’t for me. I write because I am creative. I couldn’t give two figs whether it fits the market or not. I write what I like to read, and I’ll always try and do the best I can. Every new book I write, I get better. I know that. I strive to tell a story which is enjoyable, readable and I feel proud of. Sure, it would be lovely to see one of my books hitting the best seller lists, but to the detriment of my art? No thanks.

  2. “damn good story . . . well written . . .” Enough said. I have read Burnt Offerings and Varangian . . . both EXCELLENT READS and my FIVE STAR reviews are posted on AMAZON. Check them out and read on my friends! T. L. Needham

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