Agents and unsolicited manuscripts: their expectations and mine

In Current reading, Local projects, Querying on March 13, 2015 at 8:31 am

One of the agency websites I visited yesterday peeled off a long list of clients aka writers. Of course, you were welcome to click on any one of the names and get a better sense of what this writer wrote. A daunting prospect when not a single of the names is familiar and you get the feeling of a visit to a big box store. To which you add the obvious question: do I wish to find an available niche  in this agency’s names beginning with a B? On to the next website, although I’ll go back for a glance at a few of the writers listed there, if only as a courtesy to their status as writers.

My reading of any number of contemporary writers is non-existent – be they prize winners or not, the quirky principle of attraction works or it doesn’t. I read precious little of the current writers published in French. Perhaps this will change. In the meantime, I’m not about to lash myself with a wet noodle, any more than I would over my non-interest in tackling Murakami’s IQ84 in any translation whatsoever. Life is short. The books I hope to read outnumber the ones I’ve read already. The stories I’ve written still need to find a home. The ones I haven’t written yet still hover in the place where the unborn await the shove into the arena, there to grow as fast as they can and make some sense of the world around them.

What matters. Finding someone who likes what I do, who has a sense of who else in the publishing world might like it too, who points out the flaws and the pitfalls and respects both my right to angst and my right to decide if I re-write or don’t. Finding my personal version of Staunton’s Dr Von Haller in Robertson Davies’ The Manticore when she explains her role: “Oh, I am several things; an interested spectator, for one and for another, I shall be a figure that appears only in military courts, called Prisoner’s Friend. And I shall be an authority on precedents, and germane judgements, and I shall keep both the prosecutor and the defence counsel in check. I shall be custodian of that constant and perpetual wish to render to everyone his due.”

In the meantime, I’d best get on with earning my keep.

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