I’m increasingly becoming of the opinion that literary agencies are more a hindrance to getting properly published than a help, especially in my case. I’ve long suspected that one of the reasons I’m being rejected because I don’t fit into their conservative, middle class mould but I’m getting the impression, sometimes, that my work isn’t even being read at all, let alone read by the right people. I feel like I’m not even being given a fair chance.
You’d suspect, for example, that a book which is becoming more and more socially relevant by the day would peak somebody’s interest, but it hasn’t. I just get the same standard ‘it’s good but there’s no place for this in the current market.’ (See above for what that basically means!) There should always be room for socially relevant books in the market, but in this case I’m just being fobbed off.
So what do I do? Keep trying to break through their impenetrable barricade? Or do I try and find a way around that barricade?
On the independent road I am getting somewhere right now. In a few places some big fish are starting to sit up and take notice. Some of this year’s promotional pushes are yielding results too, though not all. The new paperbacks have been a massive boon as well. That isn’t going to sustain me forever though. Forgetting that my mental health won’t allow it, it’s also never going to get me into a position where I can make an actual difference, a proper impact on an industry that is crying out for radical new ideas. I HAVE to get over the barricade.
Publishers do not accept author requests, however. Soliciting directly is definitely out of the question. They REQUIRE people to go through an agent. This is understandable, they have better things to do than read through one hundred trash manuscripts a day. From what I’ve read the agencies have a bad enough job themselves. They’re struggling to cope by wave after wave of people thinking, for some reason, that writing is an easy job. Perhaps that’s another reason why I’m not getting through- My stuff is just being drowned in a noise of other attempts. But as of right now there is no other option but to join in with those masses.
The main problem with the current route to publication, I think, lies with the gatekeepers. It lies with the agencies and the first hurdle. There is a widespread problem in that they’re definitely not doing enough to promote a vibrant and diverse literary scene. There is so much written on the internet about how certain people, certain ethnic and cultural groups and certain areas of society are underrepresented in fiction and the tendency is to blame the publishers. I don’t think so, not entirely anyway. It could well be that the underrepresented just aren’t getting through to the agencies, that like myself they aren’t even being considered because they don’t fit a certain mould.
In Britain, for example, working class fiction and the working class author used to be a huge thing. Now it has all but vanished. The authorial landscape is increasingly homogeneous to fifty-sixty year old white, middle class men (often with slicked back grey hair and a degree in English literature) writing low quality thrillers (or in one case, fodder for teenage girls written in what I can only describe as a disturbingly fetishistic way) or white, upper-middle class, middle aged women writing things for their own social niche. Quite often they aren’t very challenging Anybody outside those areas (like, say, anyone who is in their mid twenties and working class) doesn’t stand a chance. There is a place for those books, everybody deserves and NEEDS to be represented, but currently that is not happening outside these areas.
There has to be a solution and a way over the barricade, for both myself and all the others who are being undeservedly ignored because they don’t fit in. What that may be eludes me right now, however.
Sorry if this came across as a bit of a rant. I just needed to let my feelings out.