Magazine article The Spectator

Dear Mary Your Problems Solved

Magazine article The Spectator

Dear Mary Your Problems Solved

Article excerpt

Q. My literary agent has failed to return my emails and phone calls and it has been six weeks since we last talked. I don't want to appear desperate but all I think about each day is - is my book going to be published, or not?

Any suggestions?

- Name and address withheld A. A little research on your agent's website will reveal publication dates of forthcoming books by his other clients. Attend the launch party of one of these. In this way you can stage a casual encounter with your agent and make progress inquiries in a dignified manner. Meanwhile, other writers about to submit manuscripts will benefit from this helpful advice supplied by the literary agent Caroline Dawnay: 'Be sure to ask your agent in the first place what the strategy is going to be about the offering of a book to publishers. This will habitually involve a single or multiple submission, to a deadline. British publishers, unlike American ones, are very bad about these deadlines and need chasing often enough. But an author ought to know when the deadline is set for, and what the plan is after that. My authors know, I hope, that if they don't hear from me it is because there is nothing yet to tell them. I would never mind them chasing me to find out. But normally I would get back to them to say where we were up to. To summarise: work out a deadline for a submission with your agent, and once the date is passed, find out (a quick email) what is the news if anything, then what the next plan is. …

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