How does a new author get an agent?

Guest Blog by Medus Harris


If you take the author as the driver, and the agent as the snowplough, then the snow must be the stuff through which you must drive in order to get your book considered by a trade publisher. The snow is otherwise too thick and the wind too strong to reach the desired destination using any other method but the snowplough.

Changing the analogy. Now think of an agent as the driver of a bus in which there are fifty or sixty tired and bored children. Any parent or teacher will say, that’s a bad combination. Much of the time is spent trying to break up fights or answering mindless questions about the distance to the trade publisher.

So how to move through the thick snow and gusting winds to get to the snowplough? Or become heard above the chorus of insistent voices? Don’t look for an answer in this blog, I was the dreamy little boy who always overlooked, the one who was left behind after the short toilet break at the anonymous service station.

The age of self publishing has been great for us dreamy little boys. We can write our stories and publish them without having to jump up and down and draw attention to ourselves. We have very few readers and we actively lose money from our books. But it’s the act of writing and creation that matters. And to lend a quotation from the bible, “There is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repenteth….” In other words, the joy of converting one reader to your cause is worth all of the expense.

My own journey as an author started because I wanted to recount my adventures working in west Africa. Re-living old memories is a way of coming to terms with those experiences. Soon the writing became an end in itself, and my imagination began to expand beyond the confines of gold mining camps into the realms of adventure and conspiracy.

I have always sought comment from reputable sources. There are many literary groups out there who are willing to give feedback, for a price. I’ve had many excellent reviews, and a few that were not so excellent. I have appeared on BBC Radio Wales and had one of my books reviewed by Susanna Wadeson, of Doubleday Publishing. She was very kind and said that she was “willing to be positive”.

My advice is to use positive feedback to bolster the conviction that your writing has worth. Don’t expect it to help you through the snowdrifts and howling winds. As one jaundiced wag told me, “this is very clever, but so is pissing through a keyhole from ten feet.”

To those people who have been told that the plot of their book is “too wildly fantastic”, or even “faintly un-realistic”; can I point out that Donald Trump is president of the United States of America.

If a book had been written that had the Russians hijacking America’s democratic process using social media and a gangster-like megalomaniac, how many trade publishers would have taken it seriously? This is where the independent writer has an advantage. They are not bound by the exigencies of the market place, or the received wisdom of an elite who guard the gates. We can let our imagination soar and not worry what the cognoscente might think. Not many will read our words, but what the hell, there’s a chance some will. There’s even a chance the book might find some traction and become a cult classic.

About the author

Mendus Harris writes conspiracy thrillers. His books are based in a fictional gold mine named Lomax and draw on his extensive experience as an exploration geologist.Very few people appreciate how a large gold mine in Africa functions and those that do may not be keen for the truth to be told.



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