Submitting a novel to an agency
I’ve made the decision to try to publish my novel.
I certainly didn’t begin writing with this in mind— I started just for myself, unsure as to whether I was capable of coming up with a plot, imagining characters, or describing make believe scenarios. It was a challenge, and I like a challenge. Having actually completed my book, though, and having had a few people read it and make comments, I’ve decided that I would really love to share my story with more people.
I looked at self-publishing first, but felt that I really wanted to at least try the more traditional route of getting the book accepted by a publishing house. On reading more about this, it seemed to me that going via a literary agent was the sensible course of action.
To submit a novel to a literary agency, the two main things required (apart from a good story – cross fingers I’ve got that bit right) are a query letter and a synopsis. Most agencies seem to request these along with about 3 chapters of your novel.
There are a lot of agencies. Not having any previous insight into this industry, I hadn’t realised how many, and of course, I’ve had to learn a bit about how they work, and how they like things submitted to them. They are all slightly different.
Online advice about how to write query letters and synopses is ubiquitous. I picked ideas from various places, including janefriedman.com, jerichowriters.com and writersandartists.co.uk, so my thanks to all of the above.
In the end though, you’ve just got to know your novel well enough to be able to distill its essence into shockingly few words for the synopsis, and write a letter which gives the bare essentials of yourself and what you are offering. At least, that is what I hope.
Now the wait begins. Apparently it’s common to wait 6-12 weeks for a reply of any kind, and of course, I’m very aware that the chances are even higher that no reply will be forthcoming at all. Agents receive thousands of manuscripts. The chance of mine getting to the right person in the right agency on the right day… Hmmm, I’m only going to hold my breath a little bit.
Do you know what, though? I don’t mind. If my letter, my synopsis and my first three chapters are good enough, I will get to the next stage. If they’re not, I won’t. I accept that. It’s all part of the fun.
But I can hope.