Getting an agent is really hard these days, even if you do have a great product in the form of a completed manuscript. Firstly there is the question of how you are pitching it. It doesn’t matter how great your book is, if the first page of the first chapter and the synopsis suck. That’s where what you physically send the agent is very important. But then you are at the mercy of whether they actually read it.
I’m sure that almost every agent is, at the very least, just looking for an excuse to say “no”. Let’s face it, they must get sent hundreds of submissions every week. Most of them will, quite frankly, be hopeless dross. They will also most likely have full books too, meaning that they’re making a nice little income already, so aren’t massively desperate to sign up new authors unless they look like a printing press for making their own money wrapped up in a five pound note. Or something like that (my analogies have a habit of being worse than a Weasel in a cardboard shirt).
If they don’t like your typeface, it’s a reason to bin it. If your name doesn’t enthuse them, they’ll bin it. Same for the title. Hell, I’m guessing some agents just reject automatically everything that arrives in the post on a Tuesday, or even every odd number submission, given the number of rejections I’ve had for material that I know is very salable and very marketable. There must be a reason why the likes of Stephen King and Joanne Rowling got a lot of rejections on books that were subsequently published and made millions. It isn’t that there’s necessarily a conspiracy (though it isn’t paranoia if they really are out to get you) just that the odds are well stacked. How easy would it be to be spotted in the crowd at a Beatles comeback tour, even if you were the world’s sexiest person? It’s those kind of odds.
Zoë tells me it’s just like the odds in marketing. You might have to know on a hundred doors to get one sale, even if your product is the moon on a stick. With glitter and candy. So with agents, it pays to keep trying if you really honestly believe that the work you are trying to get a deal on is up to standard. On that basis, I’m waiting for another printer toner cartridge (yes, it’s that sad sorry saga again) and have a list of another six or seven people to send out to, now the steady trickle of generic rejection slips are dribbling in. Sci-fi/horror is a difficult genre area to sell at the best of times, so that makes it even harder. Based on the arbitary way that some agents seem to reject submissions without reading them, I’m almost tempted to change my manuscript’s title, tweak the synopsis and send it out all over again to the same list. Actually, I’m a little way off being desperate enough to do that. Yet.