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Old 9th Jun 2003, 17:16   #1
Colyngbourne
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Default How to submit to an agent ( not how you might imagine...)

Until I get myself to the library, can anyone give advice on how to lay out a submission (synopsis + three chapters) to a lit. agent? Is it double spacing or is 1.5 okay? I know pages have to be numbered. What sort of mention of copyright should there be etc.?

Nerve-wracked,
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Old 9th Jun 2003, 17:48   #2
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Competely non-clued up on the actual physical lay-out side, but I do have a draft letter than an agent told me would get my manuscript read as opposed to immediately rejected. I can pm it to you if you like?
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Old 9th Jun 2003, 18:24   #3
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Oh yes, do PM it to me, thank you - I've trawled around for tips on lay-out and it appears to be double spacing with wide margins. Then there's whether you put your name and the title on each page and at what side, and what the title page should look like, and exactly how long should a synopsis be...

But the initial query/cover letter is the scariest bit, so I'd appreciate the advice!
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Old 10th Jun 2003, 9:44   #4
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Not sure about the spacing and that, but as for copyright, I believe it's always a good idea to send yourself a copy of the manuscript by registered post, and leave it unopened.

That way you can prove you wrote in when you did, should (unlikely) things not go to plan.
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Old 10th Jun 2003, 23:19   #5
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Double spacing.... numbered pages... name of author and piece at top or bottom. A regular style for paragraphs - usually spaced again.

That's about it for the m/s apart from getting the spulling rite. and punctuation;

I wouldn't worry about copyright unless you're sending it to shady people. Copyright is yours whether you assert it or not. I'd say that sticking a copyright mark on it suggests you think who ever you are sending it too are indeed shady people and need reminding...

The letter? Apart from telling them what sort of work you're sending them, I'd say the letter is pretty crucial.

Their slush pile is already as deep as your novel is undoubtedly profound. They need subtly persuading that your manuscript deserves attention.

There are plenty of great novelists out there. Undoubtedly more than the market needs or can sustain. And about a million times more short story writers than the market needs because nobody in this country actually reads short stories.

Shallow though it may be, they want to know that either you're a fascinating media friendly person whose accompanying bio will help sell the novel to shallow journalists. However if you're not Zadie Smith, they want to know what other weight your book carries. Are you an expert in the field you're writing about, etc? Do you have a story?

Really, of course, they want to hear that you're already famous. This isn't easy. But it's not always impossible. One friend I know who'd written a historical novel was a provincial lawyer. Not very sexy, CV-wise. However (on my advice, I boast) he sent the m/s to three authors he admired. It was my guess that published authors are mainly sad, stay-at-home people who don't mind hearing from other writers half as much as we imagine they might.

He sent the book out to two people. My guess was right. Both responded. One was a very famous thriller writer who asked if she could send it to her agent and has happily supplied a ringing endorsement for the cover.

The bastard now has a three book deal and the original m/s is out this month and being published in multiple territories.

And I'm furious with envy, of course. damn damn damn.
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Old 10th Jun 2003, 23:41   #6
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[...makes notes furiously...]

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Old 11th Jun 2003, 11:42   #7
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:D Wow! Thanks for all that advice, wshaw - I do a contact who used to be in children's publishing (this would be a book for mid-teens, I think), so I might get in touch with her.
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Old 11th Jun 2003, 11:50   #8
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Sounds like having contacts is very useful... shame I haven't got any!
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Old 11th Jun 2003, 12:31   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NottyImp
Sounds like having contacts is very useful... shame I haven't got any!
It's sadly true... it ain't what you know... Just look at any publisher's list. But I think if you write the main intention is to get people to read your stuff. The way I see it, writing doesn't really exist until it's being read, if that makes any sense.

And if you want to get people to read it you have to accept that no-one's going to come looking for your work of genius. You have to find a way to persuade people to look at it...

And if you're resourceful in finding a way to get their attention, publishers and agents will only respect you for it. The British publishing industry is notorious for publishing far more books than sales can sustain - compared to the US, say, where publishers generally produce far fewer titles but then work them harder. So they want to hear anything that'll make your book stand out.
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Old 11th Jun 2003, 12:44   #10
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Quote:
Until I get myself to the library, can anyone give advice on how to lay out a submission (synopsis + three chapters) to a lit. agent?
So Colynbourne, I gather from this you are approaching a completed project? When do we get to read some :D
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