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Donkin's World: Book Done - But Not Dusted

...If you do contact an agent, forget an email, the means by which most of us communicate. Forget sending the manuscript as an attachment, the quick and easy way. No, best to have written your novel in tablets of stone wrapped in vellum, sealed with the best bees wax and delivered by personal courier wedged between his cherubic bum cheeks...

Richard Donkin, with two well-received well-researched non-fiction books under his belt, has just finished writing his first novel. Now all he needs is an agent...

Please visit Richard's entertaining Web site
http://richarddonkin.com/

To purchase a copies of his celebrated books please click on
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blood-Sweat-Tears-Evolution-Work/dp/1587990768/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1214554429&sr=1-2
and
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Future-Work-Richard-Donkin/dp/0230576389/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1260983216&sr=1-1

I've finished my novel but the initial excitement is tempered by the knowledge that I must now find a literary agent.

I thought that would be relatively simple. Now I'm not so sure. Agents' websites are more protective of their precious teams than Fort Knox is of its bullion deposits.

The submissions policy of Aitken Alexander here is typical. Why don't they insist that writers prostrate themselves on the doorstep, double spaced manuscript (no more than thirty pages from the off) between their teeth? Curtis Brown, meanwhile,says it has shut up shop to new writers.

If you do contact an agent, forget an email, the means by which most of us communicate. Forget sending the manuscript as an attachment, the quick and easy way. No, best to have written your novel in tablets of stone wrapped in vellum, sealed with the best bees wax and delivered by personal courier wedged between his cherubic bum cheeks.

It's only when you visit these agencies that you discover that new writers are regarded as the lowest of the low. I always knew this to be the case in journalism but reading books it is easy to get the impression that authors are held in high regard by their publishers.

For some established authors this may be so, although, with two books under my belt I haven't noticed much cossetting. I doubt whether even a Booker Prize would help these days (not commercial), nor good reviews (too popular) nor even big sales (not literary enough). I reckon it would be easier to get an audience with the Pope on Christmas Eve than to get the time of day from some literary agents. Once you've earned them some dosh and the money begins to flow, everything changes, but in the beginning, when they have to do the spade work on your behalf you are the equivalent to a flutter on a carthorse in the Grand National.

Agents and publishers seem to be pulling up their drawbridges for all but cast iron sellers. Well let them do so. I like a challenge.

I was chatting to a former colleague this morning who has now written seven well-received novels. He told me it took him four years to get his first book published. Four years? I can't wait that long. I want to be published now, tomorrow. It's good stuff. I don't write crap.

Yet in the past week I have felt like Yosser Hughes, appealing to anyone: "Gissa n'agent!" Should I write to all of them? "No" says one of my advising authors, "They all talk among themselves and it wouldn't look good." What about sending the manuscript straight to a publisher? The question produces a literary Bateman moment as anyone who knows anything about publishing doubles up in laughter and ridicule. "You want to send your book to a publisher? Forget it. No-one does that."

So, for now at least, the book - all 110,000 majestically written words of it - is here on my lap top, waiting for the nod. I'll keep you posted.

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