The Next Destination: From Desk to Agent

Dear Readers of From Brain to Bookshelf,

Well, the timer's counting down and right now it's flashing '4 days, 14 hours, 43 minutes' at me. My novel's going to leave the house.

I said I'd take you with me every step of the way so I suppose I can't bail out on what's happening right now - which is blind panic by
the way.

The success of my Twitter page has taken me by surprise and as the deadline moves closer, a number of publishers and agents have made themselves known via both Twitter and this Blog. What I do next is crucial so I'm after some informed feedback. I'm writing fast so grammatical errors and cliches are inevitable - skip over them. Published authors, editors and general writing professionals currently following this blog: lend me your ears.

In my mind, my ideal scenario is to establish a working arrangement with a really good agent first. I'm pretty determined, and not completely clueless about business, so I could probably do a fair amount of the business and media side of things myself but I'd rather have someone on board who specialises. I know some writers think this is daft as you're giving away your earnings but I think it's worth the money. If an agent wants to earn a hefty commission, they have to get you a really kick-arse deal after all. It's in their best interests to look after your best interests.

The other point is that if I wanted to be an agent, I'd become one. As I want to be an author, it makes sense to let someone else be the agent or else when am I going to write? Jamie Ford sent me an email yesterday making a good case for agents too and he's a New York Times Best Seller so who am I to disagree?

Given that I want an agent, that should be my first port on the next leg of the journey. When the timer hits zero, I should send off my first three chapters to agents only right? This is where I stumble. There are many publishers following me right now. What if they're keeping an eye on the timer too? Will they be cross if I don't also write to them?

With the logic bit of my brain switched on, I think they might not, as they generally prefer doing business with agents rather than authors from what I've read. The logic bit says 'contact the agents first.' The author bit, however, says 'but... they're publishers... and they're following you... send out so many manuscripts that you have to spend the rest of your life planting trees to make up for it.'

What do you think?

Fondest regards,

Confused of the Cotswolds.

P.S. With a bit of luck and a following wind, I'll be in the London Evening Standard today... Cross fingers for me.

Dave King  – (27 May 2009 at 11:08)  

I don't have a lot of experience at this, but what I have suggests that you are right: agents first. Best of luck!

Charlie  – (27 May 2009 at 20:26)  

Your ideal scenario sounds pretty ideal to me too. It's awesome that you have agents and publishers following you. Best of luck to you.

Anonymous –   – (27 May 2009 at 21:17)  

Rebecca - You have agents and publishers following you on here and on twitter. The typical path is to send your MS to agents and allow them to present it to the publisher. With that said, the publishers who are following you know which agents are following you and vise versa. My point is this, send your MS to the agents and allow the agents and publishers to talk. It should be short and sweet since they both follow you. Should there be any miscommunication you can always send it straight to the publisher a little later.

Rebecca Woodhead  – (27 May 2009 at 21:22)  

Dave and Charlie

Thanks for the advice and encouragement.

Charlie: It is great that agents and publishers are following me but at the same time, it makes it more stressful every time I screw up! :)

Rebecca Woodhead  – (27 May 2009 at 22:02)  

Ah.. Brian. There's the voice of reason I've come to rely on. We shall see. I've done my research but I'm an amateur so I'm going to mess up more often than not. There are certainly some positive looking things happening but I've got to keep my feet on the ground until it's all signed and sorted.

I know I say this a lot but I feel so lucky to have such great followers on here. You're all so supportive and full of great advice. Thank you all.

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