Armed with my brand new copy of Writers and Artists year book I highlighted all the suitable agents and then got to work listing them on a spreadsheet which you can see below.
Most Agents want submissions by email these days so it's a lot quicker to send a manuscript than it used to be. Make sure you tailor your submission to the Agent you are writing to and don't send in bulk. It can still take months for a reply, so don't worry if you have heard nothing for a while.
It was all rejections for me apart from some who can't even be bothered to email, in which case I assumed rejection.
I have included a sample of the rejections below; I hope you don't get any but if you do, this is what you will get.
They range from your standard copy and paste, to personalised replies which are nice and give you a lift. Everyone is doing their job and you have to be harsh in a hard world. I don't bear any animosity to any of the agents however Curtis Brown, for a big company, were the worst. They hadn't replied by their three-month deadline so I queered if they had received my manuscript. I received a curt reply saying they had, and they included a copy of the email they had sent to someone else!! By that time I didn't have the will to argue with them.
Thank you so much for writing me about your project. I read and consider each query carefully and while yours is not exactly what I am looking for, I would certainly encourage you to keep trying. I know your work is important to you and I am grateful that you wrote to me.
The Bent Agency
Dear Mr Sippings,
Thank you for sending us this material which we have now read and considered.
But we are sorry to say that your novel is not something this agency could feel 100% confident of being able to handle successfully.
However, there are as many opinions as there are agents and publishers, so we wish you all success in finding suitable representation elsewhere.
With best wishes,
Gregory and Company
Dear Mr Sippings,
Many thanks for your submission and for thinking of me for this.
I am sure that this could be very intriguing but I’m afraid that I did not quite feel that all important connection with your work which I know is vital in such a difficult publishing climate.
As such, I’m afraid that I don’t think that it would be quite right for me at this present time and I am going to have to pass, but please do not give up. There are as many opinions out there as there are agents and a full list of them can be found at http://www.writersservices.com/agent/uk09/index.htm.
With kind regards,
Thank you for your email and the material which we enjoyed looking at. As a small agency we take on very few of the many writers and illustrators who approach us each year and, having considered your work, we do not feel we could add you to our list. We are only able to give a limited amount of time to each submission so do please continue to try other agents and publishers who may see something we’ve missed.
I’m afraid that the sheer volume of manuscripts coming into this office prevents us from providing you with a more detailed and personal response.
With all best wishes,
Caroline Sheldon Literary Agency
Thank you for sending in your material to us. We have read and considered your proposal carefully but do not feel it is something we could place successfully in the current publishing climate. Please bear in mind that this is the opinion of one agency alone and that others may feel differently.
We are extremely sorry to disappoint you but we wish you the very best of luck with your future writing.
Watson, Little Ltd
You write well (even if you break Elmore Leonard’s First Rule of Writing, which is don’t begin with the weather), and you certainly have a surprising and intriguing background. But I’m afraid I can’t help you with Cold Sunflowers: in this harsh climate, when editors (and agents) are being even more boringly cautious than usual, especially where debut novelists are concerned, I just don’t think I’d succeed in selling your book.
Of course all opinions in this sorry business are totally subjective, and others may react differently, so don’t be discouraged. Good luck anyway.
The Ampersand Agency Ltd
Thank you for sending your work to us for consideration. Both Sophie and I have now had the opportunity to read these pages and I'm afraid that neither of us felt that your book was the right fit for our respective lists.
We are sorry to disappoint, and even more sorry that this isn't a personalised response. Sophie and I are really honoured and excited that so many writers reach out to us with their books. At the moment, we are receiving a couple of hundred submissions every month. But as it's just the two of us reading and reacting, we simply do not have the hours in the day to respond to everyone individually.
Please rest assured that your work was carefully read and considered, more often than not by both of us. We sincerely appreciate that you thought of SHA when looking for representation and we wish you the best of luck with your work.
I submitted my novel via your electronic submissions page on the 1st of December.
It says on your website I should hear back within 12 weeks but as yet I have not received a reply.
I expect you are drawing up a fabulous contract for me (if that's the case please take your time).
I just wondered if all was well and that you had actually received it.
Thanks for your help
I can see from the online portal that Sheila did in fact respond to you in mid-December. Please see a copy of her response below.
New Writing Team
Thank you for sending me Cold Sunflowers and for giving me the opportunity to consider your work.
I have read your material, but I did not feel it would be right for my list and therefore I am unable to offer you representation.
I am sorry not to be writing with better news, but I hope this response will not discourage you and I wish you all the best with your writing.
Curtis Brown Group Ltd.