Following the advice from UK literary agent Lucy Luck, I thought I would share my personal experience of the submission process for the manuscript of my first novel, The Flame Tree.
I was about three-quarters of the through writing the novel when I got a voicemail message from a friend. She had mentioned to some her friends at a dinner party that I was writing a book set in Malaysia with a Chinese heroine. One of the people there was a literary agent. The agent had said “Book by Chinese women are hot right now. Tell Yang-May to send me her manuscript when she’s finished.”
My friend’s voice crackled out of my answering machine, “So, are you finished yet?”
As you can imagine, I didn’t do anything but write like crazy the next couple of months till I had finished the book and polished and re-polished it. When the time came to submit the manuscript, though, I decided to send it to two other agents in addition to my friend’s friend. It was a risk because it might upset my friend’s friend (let’s call her Agent No. 1). But I wanted the option to see a selection of agency styles, personalities and portfolios.
So with the input of my friend, I chose two more agents. Agent No. 2 was younger and just starting to build a portfolio of her own within the agency where she had been a junior agent. She was likely to be “hungry” and work hard to promote my book. Agent No. 3 was a highly respected and influential name within the industry, specialising in high-brow literature and quality thrillers.
I sent out my covering letter, first three chapters and synopsis. And waited.
The calls came within two weeks. They all wanted to meet with me. They were all a bit miffed that I had submitted to other agents besides them. But that was good, because it put me in the driving seat. They all loved it but they all advised it needed work. “Fine,” I said, “Let’s talk and whoever I go with, I’ll make whatever changes you want.”
I made appointments to see them all, one after the other on the same day.
Who would I choose? Agent No. 1 who had come to me first? Agent No. 2 who was young and hungry? Or Agent No. 3, established leader in her field? Who would be my “Blind Date”?
Read more next week…..