A Profound Look Back at the Week: October 26 – November 1

It’s been another fun week in news and I use the word “fun” here the way some people use “literally”. But who cares, the world is going to hell anyway.


Lockdowns are back in some places and talk about lockdowns is back, too, in others. Naturally, people are going frantic. On social media. For reasons I don’t want to go into I spend some time on Facebook almost daily and it’s turning into an increasingly confusing experience. Some loud people call for other people to grow up and start wearing their masks. Other loud people are mocking former loud people for wearing masks. Now, with high-school and university students going remote for two weeks, the debate if it could even be called that has gone up a level.

Camp 1 says the government wants to raise a generation of uneducated halfwits because uneducated halfwits are so much easier to rule. They are only pretending they are closing the schools because of the coronavirus because what’s 1,000 infected students nationally when there’s a total 600,000 of them? It’s all a government conspiracy.

Camp 2 notes the government is not closing all schools and then reminds us again we should all wear our masks or, alternatively, become a volunteer at one of the hospitals that are suffering a shortage of staff because either they were understaffed to begin with or Covid-19 reduced their numbers through natural infection.

Meanwhile, I saw #ClosetheSchools trending on UK Twitter today and I’m totally confused. For the past 30+ years we have been taught the West is always right. The West may be quite a general concept but the UK is certainly the West so whatever they do must be right, right? Camp 1 has been pointing to France and Germany as doing the right thing in restricting movement but keeping schools open. Now Brits are yelling at their government to close the schools because they can–and have–become hothouses of infection. So, which West is right, then? The resulting state of irreconcilable confusion must be a special case of cognitive dissonance.

The Great Agent Offensive

The above developments may be pretty fascinating but I’ve also been busy otherwise this week. I accidentally realised there were a lot more literary agents representing the sort of books I write than publishers accepting unsolicited manuscript submissions. With uncharacteristic speed I found a rather comprehensive list of agents and got to work.

I’m dividing them in batches of 20. My submissions, that is, not the agents. I would never refer to a literary agent in such a disrespectful fashion. Salt of the earth, agents. No, really. Because they would take the work of pitching a book to publishers out of my hands and I would be eternally grateful for that, should it ever happen.

Of course, in order to find an agent you need to pitch to agents first and that’s exactly the same process as pitching to publishers. Yesterday, I sent out 20 cover letters — each with a personal touch as per agent’s requirements/preferences — 20 sets of sample chapters (some want 35 pages, others want 10, still others 5. One wanted all three samples), and about half a dozen synopses.

During the process I found I’d somehow failed to complete my mini-synopsis. Or I accidentally overwrote it with the longer one. Whatever the case, I’m short one mini synopsis and I sweat blood over that one. Luckily no one required a mini synopsis.

It’s interesting how things change. The first time I pitched to agents, I had this illusion of striking gold with the first batch of queries (six in total) and going on to sell a million copies of my book. Now, a much more realistic me plans to send out batches of 20 queries every week until I’m done with the list of 300 agents I found.

Hopefully, at least one of those 300 will find my book interesting enough to represent. Or maybe not. I’ll think about next steps when this one is done. I’ll probably give up writing. If 300 different people don’t like your work, then you’re probably that bad.

A Battle between God and Evil

A typo on the first page is something everyone who’s ever pitched any sort of text knows could kill the pitch. Agents and publishers are pretty vocal about it: check your manuscript for typos. Check your cover letter for typos. Typos are bad for your writing career. Guess what I found 13 queries into my weekly plan yesterday? Yep. A typo. In the lead paragraph. After checking, rechecking and triple-checking.

I’ve very good at typos that just change the meaning of a sentence without making it literally wrong. “A battle between God and Evil” makes perfect, if slightly unusual, sense. I actually wish I had done it on purpose but for that I would have needed to write a male deity into the book and while I do have one he’s not important enough to be included in my pitch.

Three or four of the queries I’d already sent with the typo were unfixable. They’d gone through Query Manager. The rest I had scheduled for sending next week. And I had the chance to do something else that was very uncharacteristic of me. I said a good word about Google. I’ve been unhappy with Google for quite a while now, especially after their latest Chrome update that made my life a slow misery but yesterday I took most of that back for the minutes it took me to correct the typo and re-schedule the emails.

Most of my agent targets will receive a clean cover letter pitching a story about a battle between Good (demons) and Evil (other demons). And when the rejections start coming, if they do because agents are busy people and hardly have time to write personal rejections, I’ll have something to write about here, so there’s that.

A Profound Meme for Next Week

2 thoughts on “A Profound Look Back at the Week: October 26 – November 1”

  1. Targeting agents, a focused, analytical approach, potentially a far better idea than the ‘ message in a bottle’ approach I’ve tried since my agent died. ( brain tumour)_
    As in March, we’re too late for panic buying. ( you need to live in town) –
    Maybe I should try for an agent again ? Might be easier than tomatoes, or sane and rational politicians.


    1. Very sorry to hear about your agent. I think you should try. A well-organised agent offensive doesn’t take long, is pretty straightforward, simple, and it does tend to take your mind off other stuff, which is always welcome these days. Also some agents have fun questions in their Query Manager templates, which is a bonus. If nothing else, I’m getting ideas about future characters from their bios, so there’s that, too.


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