Literary Agents – Friends or Foes?

Have you ever had dealing with a literary agent? What was your experience?

Mine started out as very positive, but then it went rapidly downhill.

So there I was,excitedly clutching my letter from a top-level, well known agent, in which they described Legitimate Targets as “Gripping!” A couple of re-writes later and they “regretfully” were unable to progress it, due to the rescesssion, and their fear that it might struggle to compete in such a highly competative market. A fair and valid reason.

Many months later I self-published and sent the agent a copy of the book as a thank you for their help and advice. The response was unexpected. The agent offered to publish the novel as an ebook, stating that it’s something they do for a select few authors who they feel deserve to be published and adding that so far, all the books they had done that for, had made the best-seller lists.

As you can imagine, I was highly delighted, especially as a contract was promised by the end of the week.  The agent also offered to act as an independant sounding-board for the sequel, “Ascension Day,” if I sent them the synopsis.

And that’s where it started to go downhill.

The contract never materialised and my request to meet-up was refused. When, after about nine months, I had a workable synopsis I sent it to them, I was stunned to get a response that said, “I can’t possibly give you an opinion based on just a sysnopsis!”

Wtf? but that’s what you asked for! The agent then finished with, “I can’t help you any further.” My follow-up reply asking if they were still going to publish Legitimate Targets, was resolutely ignored.

In all my interactions with this agent, they displayed total inconsistancy in their attitude and responses, one minute, enthusiastic, then next, indifferent. It was quite an eye-opener. The frustrating thing is that my dealings with this agent resulted in wasted months when I could have been marketing the novel myself.

I’m honestly not bitter, (them’s the knocks, boy) but I am disappointed by the agent’s lack of consideration.

It seems that some agents, like this one, forget that every one of the 1000s of manuscripts that cross their desks, is someone’s baby. Even with the bad ones, someone has invested hours, nurturing, coaxing, developing, researching and giving birth to their pride and joy and a little consideration can go a long way.

On the other side of the coin, most of the rejection slips that I’ve received have been very complimentary and some have even offered advice, which is a thoughtful touch, and one that I always acknowledge.

It is evident from the hugeness of the indie market that there are more authors out there than agents can ever hope to represent, and to be the lucky recipient of a contract, your work really has to stand out from the crowd, but perhaps the literary agents could be a little more considerate. 

So, what are YOUR Literary Agent Tales? I’d love to read them.



  1. This experience you had sounds like a nightmare. As someone who’s honed my writing skills for the past ten years, all I can say is that it’s important to just write the very best that we can and be honest about your chances of getting published; it’s often simply being at the right place at the right time. As cliché’ as that sounds, I believe it’s true. I wish you nothing but the best in your future endeavors! Break a leg, my friend.

  2. Thanks for sharing your experiences, Peter. It’s good to hear what others go through. I’m still in the querying process myself — and seeking out as much information as I can find! I found you via The Debuts, by the way. Nice to find another blog to read (I’ve downloaded Legitimate Targets, but I’m a little worried it may be too gruesome for my tastes).

    1. Thanks for the comments Jane. There are one or two gruesome-ish references but hopefully nothing too gratuitous – mainly to reinforce how nasty the baddie is.
      Strangely, for an action thriller, most of the reviews are from women; I didn’t expect that, but I’m really pleased. Thanks for downloading it.

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