October 23rd, 2016

Dark and Stormy Night

An Agent of Progress

As you all know from my incessant harping about it, I have some major publishing news to announce first on my newsletter—as soon as I have ten new people sign up for the newsletter, which hasn’t been active much up until now. (The signup is over at www.markrhunter.com.) We’re about halfway there.

Because I’m comfortable with how things are progressing on new projects, I thought I could take some time and go the traditional route with some other works. With my YA mystery Red Is For Ick and my SF novel, Beowulf: In Harm’s Way, I decided to take up the slow, laborious, and often fruitless process of searching for a literary agent.

The good news is that most agents are okay with an author submitting to more than one of them at a time, which speeds up the process. (But only a little, because I take the time to research agents in my search for the right match.) The bad news is that at any one time, there are about two billion agentless authors for every agent who’s looking for a new client. Maybe three billion.

Anyway, once I exhaust all the agents who might make for a good partnership, I planned to go direct to those traditional publishers that accept unagented submissions. Then I would consider independent publishing. Thinking that far ahead shows that my confidence in the traditional publishing process has eroded over the years.

The steps of publishing are measured in weeks—best case scenario. More likely months. Once an author sells a completed manuscript, it’s still often years before it comes out in print. So earlier this week I sent out some queries, along with outlines and sample pages, then moved on to other writing work. No sense waiting by the virtual mailbox.

Within less than 24 hours I got a request for a full manuscript.

I told you that whole story just to show how rare this is. It’s also by no means a guarantee of representation. I’ve received requests for fulls before: Only once did it lead to me getting an agent, years ago, and that didn’t work out. Statistically speaking, I might be no more likely to sign with this agent than the Cubs are to get into the World Series.

But stranger things have happened.