top of page

5. Tear-Jerking Love Stories

The 'churning female degradation' bugged me but I had other agents to be fantasising about, with my so many irons in the fire. There were agents 4,5 and 6 to submit to. These were old-fashioned operators who still wanted submissions by post, a kerfuffle that meant printing things out, deciding about clips, sourcing envelopes, going to the post office, spending money. Except I'd had a novel wheeze: why not deliver them myself in person? I was curious about agents, wanted to know from whence they did their business, feel the actual physical reverberation of these offices lined with books and full of flowers and gifts from happy clients that I saw so much of on Twitter.

Was this really a good idea? A superstar agent I was considering approaching also only wanted printed materials but on his site he stated very clearly that he only accepted submissions BY POST:

Please note that no submissions will be accepted by hand or in person unless requested.

Awkward encounters with some of my less-urbane peers had no doubt prompted this regulation. There were various online tales of extremes some poor submitters went to: cakes and other novelties, packages to sign for, bubblewrap. I would not dirty myself from the onset thusly. My work would speak for itself. My postal trip would be a discreet voyage to garner insights into more effective luring. It would be in no way stalkerish. I'd go on a Saturday morning when offices were closed and staff all at home tucked up in bed reading other people's more commonplace submissions. A simple slip through the letterbox, no danger of running into anyone, although if a chance passing with a weekend-keeny did result in an unexpected connection then so be it.

If I decided to submit to the superstar I'd obey his orders. But that was a big 'if'. My book didn't sit naturally beside his highly commercial list of supermarket bestsellers and what he was looking for was almost comically restricted:

thrillers with a strong central character set in America or Ireland or other internationally appealing locations and tear-jerking love stories.

My book was set in part in internationally appealing locations like the Sahara. It was also set in the wastelands of west Britain and back alleys of Barrow-in-Furness. The love story it told was not exactly tear-jerking, though perhaps I could work on that with him. He prided himself on talent-spotting and had a reputation for working closely with debut authors plucked from the slush-pile, the internet told me. I hoped our visions wouldn't clash, but it was also true that I wasn't precious and would consider all feedback with an open mind, especially coming from someone with such a track record. We possibly had a lot to learn from each other. If I decided to submit.

His agency motto was:

Our authors mean business.

Would he have the imagination to see that my book also meant business, of perhaps a more original sort than he was used to? Probably not. But something about him appealed.

We’re very focussed, very successful, 100% commercial, friendly and—unlike some agencies—not literary snobs.

Perhaps he wouldn't mind a bit of churn.


Previous: Part 4: Churning Female Degredation

Read my rejection odyssey from the start here.

184 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All

1 Comment

Jason Nicholls
Jason Nicholls
Feb 12, 2020

Great blog. I’ve had similar issues with my radio scripts. Some want it in BBC Scene Style, others in feature film style. So I’ve started to forward plan, and when I finish a story now I save it into every script style possible.

bottom of page