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Couldn’t Land a Literary Agent… So What Next?

You’ve tried to find an agent for that masterpiece you penned but they’ve all ignored you or replied “thanks but no thanks”. What can you do next?

Speaking from experience, once that manuscript you’ve laboured over is finished you feel like a champion!  You feel like you’ve won the lottery or landed a gold medal.  The feeling of relief and self adoration washes over you like a wave of frenetic energy that promises to bring you your heart’s desire.  The moment is upon you; your book will soon be hitting the shelves!

You submit your perfectly formed manuscript to as many agents as you can find for your chosen field after constructing an equally perfect letter complete with swanky business card, personalised letter-headed paper bound to impress even the staunchest of scrooge’s and of course the SAE (Self Addressed Envelope).  You sit back with your hands behind your head and feel like your wildest dreams are a mere skim-read away.

Except your perfect manuscript is anything but.  Slowly at first, but surely, the rejections come in.  One or two say promising things like ‘we liked it, it’s just not what we’re looking for’.  Others are straight forward and blunt; ‘no’.  You remain confidant of success; after all you spent all that time and energy writing it, it’s a matter of time.  Isn’t it?

Finally, after almost a year since the last rejection you concede that your perfect manuscript is either not perfect (inconceivable?) or your sell was less than impressive.  You could ‘re-sell’ to the same agents but they are not likely to demonstrate any further interest in you as they all claimed to be really busy.  You know better than to pester publishers direct; all the literature you’ve ever read advises against that!

So what do you do?

There are really only three options open to you.

1) Try to find more agents; perhaps overseas.  The chances are you’ll simply get more rejections; though in fairness fantasies sometimes come true and you might be one of the rare epic lucky ones (thinking of you JK).

2) Try to find a cheap Assisted Publishing company; these can be very costly; often in the thousands, and most of us don’t have that kind of funding just lying around.

3) Go self-publishing.  With self publishing you’ve got to decide whether you want to go specifically via eBooks or if you want to see your perfect manuscript bound and tied and sitting on your shelf next to your favourite other books.  There will be cost involved but far, far less than option 2.  However, there is yet more work involved such as getting a cover, altering the format to fit the requirements for an eBook firm to work with it (troublesome for technophobes like me) and marketing (which is also very expensive if you can’t do it yourself).

There is a fourth option, obviously.  Put your perfect manuscript in a draw and try to forget about your dream.  Not the best option and not one I endorse personally.

Of the three options above I have personally done the first and second.  My first book was done via option 2 and I trawled through the various resources I was aware of until I could bare it no more.  Now to try option 3.  I’ll let you know how that goes!!

Manuscript (Photo credit: Muffet)


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