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55884 Posts in 6181 Topics by 556 Members - Latest Member: wallynicholson666 January 22, 2020, 01:53:25 AM
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Author Topic: From the agents' mouth  (Read 13027 times)
Ed
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« Reply #15 on: March 29, 2010, 05:53:20 PM »

Yep, sure, as long as you promise to fix some of my spellings, like 'pathalogical', for instance - I was working on an old version of Opera that doesn't have spellcheck, and I'll sometimes slip into phonetic spelling that only strikes me as wrong when reading it now. rolleyes

BTW, I've just remembered what they said about synopses - many of them (perhaps all) don't seem to read them before they look at the MS. They all agreed that it was the hardest thing in the world to do and get right - condense 100k words into a page or so, and still make it seem interesting? They said the only time it becomes useful is when pitching the story to a publisher and they want to know exactly what it's about. They likened it to the blurb on the back cover of a finished novel. Neither publisher nor agent wants the job of writing a synopsis - they prefer for the writer to do it. For it to contain a one line broad capture seemed popular, such as "It's like Terminator meets Bambi," for instance. Something they can use to quickly pitch it.

What they like to see is a writer who knows what category they are writing in - be it horror, romance, dark fantasy, sci-fi. They also mentioned their pet hate is authors who take a scattergun approach to targeting agents. They all said they absolutely hated it if they'd spent valuable time reading a MS, only for the author to tell them they'd had an offer from another agent. Also, Dorothy Lumley said she quite often receives queries with an ancient date on, which tells her she's just been sent a standard letter. She said sometimes they'll be addressed to the wrong name, too - maybe a mix of her name and the one above or below her on the list.

They also talked about MS preparation. They said ten or fifteen years ago, publishers, if you approached them with a MS that was 80% ready to publish, would be willing to pick it up and do the last 20. Now they don't have the time or the staff to do it. Absurdly, editors no longer have time to edit. Most agents seem to be former editors, and although they want to see as near perfect a MS as possible, they will help you do that last 20% that the publishers won't. This is why, they say, you're better off approaching an agent rather than hitting publishers directly.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2010, 06:25:29 PM by Ed » Logged

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« Reply #16 on: March 31, 2010, 11:23:27 AM »

As everyone else has mentioned, this is great Ed - thanks much for posting it!
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Bec
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« Reply #17 on: April 28, 2010, 07:05:32 AM »

Thanks for all the useful info, Ed!
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digitaldeath
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« Reply #18 on: May 28, 2010, 10:08:24 AM »

Rather belatedly noticed this, but I will add my 5 cents worth. I had a good contact in Time Warner, or whoever they are now. Admissions editor, she always read my manuscripts, in fact I sent them as paperbacks so she could take them home. Although she often praised them she said that it was a horrendous step accepting a new author. Publishers mainly want money, they get that printing material from footballers wives and people from Big Brother. Three yeras ago she transferred to another department because she was sick of turning away very good manuscipts and seeing the presses churn out crap. My last communication, October, was regarding a horror novel. The suggestion was try to go it alone as if you can get sales even reasonable then the big cats will notice that the initial problem has been overcome and want 'a piece of the action'.
Maybe I am not top flight, I sell low numbers as production is a pain. At the moment all my kit is in Spain anyway but I have sold maybe 400 over the years and as some customers ask for sequels I don't feel I am totally out of touch.
Just broke most of the time.
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