Today I received a rejection email from Sheil Land Associates exactly 6 months and 4 days after I first submitted my work to them. The email was obviously copied from a standard template and was signed by someone called SUBMISSIONS, a terrible name to inflict upon a child, but it did finish with the comforting news that my work would be recycled – as firelighters I assume.
I can’t be hard on poor old Submissions because he’d already rejected me, for the same work, 3 months previously which indicates a worrying level of overwork on his part. However this duplicate rejection (so good we said no twice) reminded me that I’d planned to give a brief account of my hunt for an agent for the edification of those amongst you who plan to follow suit.
Between the 15th of July 2009 and the 5th of August I submitted sample chapters to 43 different agents. I received 9 requests for the full manuscript and from amongst those 4 requests for a meeting. I was rejected 32 times with the latest, not counting our confused Mr Submission, arriving 4 months and 9 days after submission. 10 agents have never bothered to respond and will remain nameless bastards until I’m rich enough not to care about who I offend.
In the light of my experiences I recomend the following method…
1. Write a really good manuscript.
2. Compile a list of agents using such sources as the writers and artists handbook.
3. Before submission call each agent to determine that they’re open for submissions.
4. Make your submission following the guidelines given by the agents.
5. Try to make 5-10 submissions a week and keep submitting until every single eligible agent in the world has a copy.
6. Wait for the rejection letters to roll in.
7. If after six months you still don’t have an agent return to step 1 and start all over again.
Good luck, I’ve done it so it can’t be that hard.