My Uncle Bob said

Ah, advice. We all need it. The naive writer, in par­tic­u­lar, needs it, and we suf­fer an embar­rass­ment of riches when it comes to find­ing out what the writ­ing experts of the world think: Do I get an agent first or a pub­lish­er? What do you put in a query let­ter? Should you try to sell your­self, or should you act cool and pro­fes­sion­al? How many let­ters should you send out in one go?

In the next few days, I’ll be final­ising my nov­el ‘Proper Job’, and these ques­tions will be fore­most in my mind. Even when I try to con­vince myself that, in the long run, the qual­ity of my writ­ing should be the primary determ­inent of any suc­cess I have in selling stuff, it’s dif­fi­cult not to focus on the pos­sib­il­ity of a typo­graph­ic­al error or (as I dis­covered yes­ter­day) a mix-up between ‘to ped­al’ and ‘to peddle’. Might these blem­ishes cause an agent to through (sic) my letter/manuscript on his bon­fire? Some agents might do that. But — I try to reas­sure myself — not the good ones.

I’m also aware that I was not able to interest a large pub­lish­er in the manu­script of my first nov­el, Deja Vu (in the end it came out under the smal­ler UKA Press imprint), and in case this reluct­ance on the part of pub­lish­ers was due to sloppy present­a­tion (wrong stuff in the query let­ter, syn­op­sis too long, whatever), I’d like to make sure I know what pub­lish­ers and agents actu­ally want.

Things to do, then, before next Saturday:
(1) Write a syn­op­sis of Proper Job
(2) Write a decent enquiry let­ter, includ­ing review snip­pets for Deja Vu
(3) Send let­ter to agents who spe­cial­ise in comed­ic fic­tion or who have rep­res­en­ted a humor­ous writer
(4) Maybe even send off a let­ter or two

Author: Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

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