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Plymouth, Devon, United Kingdom
West Country author, winner of Piatkus Entice award for historical fiction 2012.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Not Such A Jewel After All

So the call came. Finally.

After almost a year of re-working and re-editing, and a renewed submissions drive for Saturday’s Child over the space of the past few weeks, I was contacted last night by a literary agent who said those magic words: “we like your work, we think it deserves to be published and we’d like to represent you.”

Time to dance around the living room? Time to drag that dusty bottle of Asti out of the wine rack and put it in the fridge? Time to call friends and family and let them know I’m finally on my way and they can stop yawning now? Well, no. Because the call was from Darin Jewell of Inspira Group.

When they contacted me within a few days saying they would like to represent me, and would read the full and get back to me in a couple of weeks, I was quite unmanageably excited. Then I did my research and found this, on the Inspira Group website:

An accomplished business development and operations professional, Darin Jewell was CEO of the biographical Internet portal Real-Lives.com before co-founding The Inspira Group. Before that he was lead marketing and PR consultant to the Chairman of a major international trading group.

Born in the USA, Darin settled in the UK in the early 1990s. He has a Master's Degree in Management and Philosophy, and undertook his doctoral research at Queens' College, Cambridge before teaching Philosophy and Religion as a Senior Fellow at Harvard University

So right away the alarm bells started ringing: there is nothing in that bio to suggest an appreciation of, or interest in fiction. I then looked further and found the P&E entry around the same time as the Absolute Write water cooler discussion - my enthusiasm started nosediving around about then. All reports said this company charges an up-front fee, and years of research into the query/submission process has told me no reputable agency does that.

Still, I thought I’d wait and see, because, you know, they might have changed. But last night (August bank holiday 2012) I had a call from Mr Jewell. He enthused about my book, we agreed on the genre, he said the word count was ideal, and that I was a talented writer who deserved to be published … blah blah, ego duly fed. Then he asked me how long I’d been trying to get this book published, and what I was working on now.

However, because I’m unknown I’m a huge risk, (accepted) and the printing/packaging of the book will cost over £300 (not my problem.) Would I be prepared to put up that kind of money to help with the initial submissions to commissioning editors? Because, after all, I’d been trying to get published for so long now.

When I began to question this he said he could tell I was “not naïve,” but that hardly any agents will take on a new author. He named one agency (Sheil Land) but said they were the only ones he could think of who might give a new author a shot. When I said they had my initial submission at the moment, and that 2 others were currently considering the full MS as well, he back-pedalled like a good’un and said that he’d just decided he didn’t want to represent me after all, because my next book is too different from this one -- ie; it has a ghost in it. I was clearly someone who couldn’t possibly write more than one book in the same genre (not his words, but the gist) and so no commissioning editor would look twice at my work no matter how deserving of publication it is.

So – the Asti stays in the wine rack, my living room remains un-danced around and my family and friends are probably still yawning (although not to my face, they’re too nice). But I was able to put the phone down last night knowing full well I’d made the right decision, as disappointing as it was.

I might never get an agent for this book; I might never get one for the next, or the ones I’ve written previously, but I have a little bit of pride left, at least.


Steven Spedding said...

I have had some dealings with this company and I would say to anyone considering him - steer well clear.

Anonymous said...

Hi Teri-this really useful advice. I was googling DJ because he is listed by Conrad Jones as one of his agents, but I too will steer well clear. Good luck with the submissions-Wendy Gregory(nee Bollen)

Terri Nixon said...

I'm glad it was of some help, Wendy. Thanks for taking the time to let me know, and all the very best with your own submissions. :)