Towels, chucking in of

Before chucking in the towel in the vain search for an agent who will actually agree to read more than the sample pages of the query (it hasn’t happened to me yet), I queried the main UK literary agencies, just for shits and giggles as they say.

I’ve only received one reply and it typifies why I despair of the agent process altogether.

Dear Jane, Thank you for sending me *****. While I enjoyed reading your submission, which stood out from the many we receive, I’m afraid I didn’t feel enthusiastic enough about the material to take it further.

Most agents I’ve queried don’t bother to reply at all. The ones who do, reply somewhere along the same lines. Many would see this as encouragement. Wow! She liked it! It stood out from the rest! But to me, this kind of letter is the written equivalent of the sound of earth falling on a coffin lid. It says, you can’t win. No matter how wonderful an agent may consider my writing, she/he is still not interested. It has the fatal flaw—and no, I don’t know what that is.

Consulting the oracle, she said:

Screen Shot 2016-08-07 at 19.34.52

There might be one or two of her suggestions that I won’t be following, but who knows? She may be onto something.


Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

35 thoughts on “Towels, chucking in of”

  1. Perhaps true talent doesn’t stink enough for agents to sniff it out!!!
    I think you’re the bee’s knees! And I’m loving Tully and Carla and Pathfinders!!! ❤️

      1. You just take care, settle into your home like slippers take to our feet and keep your talented head held high my dear! Your words touch us all 😘

      2. I’m sure it will. It’s just when you’re in that dark, murky limbo where your future is shaped by estate agents and notaires, panic can quite easily set in.

  2. I was such an agent before my life exploded shortly after the birth of my first daughter. It is true that many don’t read manuscripts but it is also true that those who do and respond are trying to impart wisdom and support even if they can’t take on a new signing. I’m afraid there is an element of luck but the definition of that is preparation colliding with opportunity. Keep trying. You do have a fan base which is more than many authors so you are nearer the balcony than you think

    1. I am truly grateful for the readers who have said great things about my writing, and I’m also grateful for the odd agent who does so too. Nearer to the balcony isn’t near enough for the people like me who whinge off about being ‘invisible’ but aren’t prepared to ‘come out’ and flash it about. If I was somebody else I’d be doing air punches and firing off a next volley of queries, writing newsletters and getting that video done to set FB on fire. I’d join snapchat (whatever that does beyond broadcast lewd selfies) and maybe even Wattpad (again), instagram and buy advertising on a mass of publicity sites. But I’m me, and I’m not like that. I thought a publisher would deal with the unpleasant aspects, but I got unlucky again. One thing I really must do though is not let it get me down and keep hoping that I will get lucky one day, with a minimum of effort, of course 🙂

      1. Yes, you must. And don’t think you are odd or alone …. Many writers are hermits by nature, writing is a lonely occupation and knock backs are disheartening. Extremely disheartening. But be strong, keep that hope burning, whinge when you need to and bathe in the wave of support you will get when you do, salve yourself and keep going. The line is getting closer, I’m certain it is but when covering a long distance in the steering heat and suffering from dehydration it is forgivable to get sand in your eye x

      2. Thanks 🙂 It must be really annoying to listen to the whining when you’ve been doing your damnedest to be encouraging. I don’t really feel down about it. Just resigned. I’m going to do something about my self-published series soon and let the publisher sort the other series.

    1. Thanks Juli 🙂 I really want to get a publisher to do the promotion for me. I have self-published books languishing on amazon and it seems like a waste of time adding to the list if I’m not prepared to be a publicist.

  3. Agents could be much more helpful by pointing us in the right direction….either another agent for our genre who is perhaps more specific in his tastes or by telling us of the fatal flaw in the work we could change and re-submit.
    Personally, all the delays in publishing going the traditional route which bring no guarantees, and the much lower share of the profit margin lead me to think the indie way is best. We can still be picked up from there if the agents sense a profit to be had. I know being a self publicist is a real bind but becoming known and finding new friends was always a treat.
    I think all the oracle’s suggestions have merit and I’ll happily come and offer encouragement for some.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    1. That oracle has a wonderful sense of humour 🙂 Joking aside, I honestly don’t know where to go from here, David. Agents don’t ever point you in the right direction, and they get so many submissions I can’t say I blame them. Small publishers tend to be worse than useless, but self-publishing means a hell of a lot of input from the author, and financial investment that I can’t stump up. I’m waiting for inspiration to strike, or some wealthy, long-lost relative to die.

  4. Wtf is that actually supposed to mean? If it’s any consolation, I had exactly the same response to one of my submissions. Either we approached the same agent, or it’s a standard reply. I think that saying “I just didn’t feel enthusiastic about it” is is more an indication of them than your writing; they just said your writing was of a higher standard than they normally recieved, and yet they still couldn’t summon up any enthusiasm? Is that even objective? No. Weak, wishy washy, and meaningless. And yet they are judging your writing. Says to me what a sorry state trad pubbing is in these days, if these are the individuals who are working in it. Take heart, my lovely. Never let someone like that dictate to you. What a patronising bitch! Lol! Get your fires burning and show ’em what’s what. Shame on them if they can’t recognise true talent when it falls in their lap. Xxx

    1. Thanks for getting up on the barricades for me, Ali 🙂 These kind of rejections don’t make me despondent about my writing in the abstract, but it makes me feel that it isn’t a commercial product. You can afford to be uncommercial when you’re a household name, but agents want something they know they can sell without any bother. I shouldn’t have bothered either—I know what response I’m going to get from them. It makes me angry though when I read the advice given to writers about sending out dozens of queries, going through the partial request routine dozens of times, the full requests tens of times, before you find the agent who ‘loves’ your ms. I haven’t had a single even partial request! It’s got to the point where I wouldn’t trust the agent who jumped at my stuff. She’d have to be desperate.

      1. I don’t know about desperate… maybe she’s just good at spotting diamonds. Most well known authors went through years of endless submitting and rejections, so you’re in good company! I don’t see why you think your writing is uncommercial. That’s not it. You just haven’t been ‘found’ yet.

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