Monday, 15 June 2009

Little-known facts about agents

Did you know...

  1. Literary agents derive most of their large income from steaming off the stamps on s.a.s.e.s sent to them by writers submitting their work; they either reply by email or don't reply at all. (The commission on clients' book sales, thought by the naive to be their main source of income, amounts to a negligible sum.)

  2. Agents swap the names of particularly annoying writers among themselves. Every agent has his own Black List of writers whose submissions go straight to the shredder (once their s.a.s.e.s have been removed and the stamps salvaged, that is.) Example: if you have the temerity to ring an agent who does not know you, your name will be added to this list.

  3. At most agencies, the slush pile is read monthly, in the office after hours, to the accompaniment of pizzas and plentiful alcohol. Especially dire passages of submitted work are read aloud, to great and drunken hilarity. These events are looked forward to by all agents and interns. They are one of the best perks of working in the world of books. Most agents meet their future spouses at these parties.

  4. As a new, unpublished author, you are statistically more likely to die by tripping over a red squirrel than to be offered a contract by a literary agent.


  1. Finally the truth emerges about why electronic submissions will never catch on...


  2. Indeed.

    I just hope my readers appreciate the risk I've taken bringing this out into the open.

    If I never get a response from an agent again, I'll know why...

  3. I think you should expand on this and submit it as a humour piece to a writing magazine or webzine.

  4. Good idea, Alan - though I can't help thinking, you'd do it much better than I would.

  5. Not so. You're off to a great start. Just see if you can have some more fun with it.

  6. You might be able to add in something along the lines that most high quality recycled paper comes from slush piles as it is such a good source of clean untouched paper. Most of it has hardly seen the light of day.

  7. Oh dear...and I've noticed a connection between personal rejections, which arrive speedily, and those form rejections which take ages.

    One pictures the agent eyeing an enormous heap of A4 padded envelopes. 'Odds are there's nothing here. Shred the lot and get off rejections. Today.'

    My latest rejection, from Caroline Sheldon, had my name at the top in non-joined-up handwriting, with a comma between Lexi and Revellian.

  8. A great piece, Lexi, but I can assure you that item 3 isn't quite so wide off the mark...!

  9. Aha!

    A comment from One Who Knows...