The Agent Dilemma

Made myself concentrate on submissions today. It it just laziness that makes me go on looking for an agent instead of self-publishing? I broke even with Unseen Unsung, so I can do it and I have learned so much on that road… and yet… I feel an agent will do well all those things I just scrape through inefficiently. In the meantime another year has passed. Border Line is a much improved book over that year, so I cannot regret the time and effort, but I ache to get on with the new project.

If I were a brilliant writer, I would be writing poetry. This has, in my view to be perfect or nothing. However in the world of fiction, writing across a vast spectrum of quality can be enjoyed. There are happy readers for works from Byatt or Attwood all the way to Mills & Boon’s prescribed plots. So, assuming an interesting enough story, and writing skills somewhere between the two ends of the spectrum, there should be no bar to attempting a novel. However, even with the story in the bag, and enough skills to gain several hundred readers  (for two novels) on a shoestring, finding and agent – let alone a publisher – is like playing a bad game of Snap.

Agents have full books and enough friends (and friends of friends) who write, never to need to trek further afield for new material. They don’t mind being sent new material, but for all their claims about looking for a ‘good read’, they give off a clear vibe of hoping to spot the next Harry Potter or nothing. They have jaded palates when it come to subject matter – and who shall blame them, given the writing they must wade through. They have to predict the reading public’s next year’s flavour. They have to squeeze any author they take on into a pre-recognised genre. Ideally they want a personality to sell as well as a book. Oh, and they don’t much like subject matter (such as assisted dying) that will frighten the horses/publishers.

I could go on. I can see the problem. I’m just too bloody-minded to give in. Even knowing that, should I find an agent via this crazy blind date system they then have to sell my story to a publisher, doesn’t stop me looking. Am I mad?