A Letter From an Agent

I got a letter from an agent at William Morris Agency. It started out: Dear Pat:

Nice. Not too stuffy, not too familiar. Then the agent thanked me. Also good. And finally, he said that he was enclosing a manuscript for review.

Okay, that was mean of me to lead you on, but I liked the irony. Over the past seven or eight years, I sent out two hundred queries and primarily got form letters in response. (Form letters? Try form scraps — most agents enclose a much photocopied slip of paper into your SASE, and expect you to be grateful for that, which, of course, you are since many agents don’t bother acknowledge you at all.) But here an agent was sending me a manuscript, asking for my opinion. As I said, I liked the irony of it.

I also got a letter from the publisher (along with a finished copy of the book) thanking me for my review. The thing that struck me about this letter was the acknowledgement that readers sell books:

Writers write books, but it’s readers who sell them. Now, more than ever, the best way to hear about a good book is to hear about it from someone who read it and wants to spread the word.

All of us at St. Martin’s Minotaur are grateful for the time you’ve taken to read, review, and blog about . . . etc, etc.

So, is this more irony, this bringing the book business down to my level? Because my books are being published by a new press, I won’t have the sort of publicity that an major publisher can afford, but I can blog about my books, and I can (perhaps) get readers to talk about them. Just like a major author. Odd, isn’t it, this brave new world of publishing?

In case you’re wondering, the book is Marshall Karp’s new novel, Flipping Out. (He also wrote The Rabbit Factory andBloodthirsty.) I’m not allowed to talk about it until his blog tour, (he’ll be here on April 12th) but there’s nothing hush-hush about it. You can read the first five chapters on Karp’s website.

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10 Responses to “A Letter From an Agent”

  1. Susan Helene Gottfried Says:

    This brave new world of publishing is levelling the playing field something fierce, Pat. Once you tap into the power of the book bloggers, you’re set. There are many great ones out there; they are relationships worth cultivating.

  2. Saoirse Redgrave Says:

    Wonderful, Pat! It only goes to prove what we all already know–that your voice, experience and connections in the field are tremendous and waaay helpful. 🙂

    How cool (and yes, loving the irony)!

  3. joylene Says:

    In November I queried a publisher about my manuscript Broken But Not Dead. December they asked for the first four chapters. A few weeks later they asked for the complete ms, saying they’d get back to me in 6 mos.

    Yesterday, they emailed a request for the entire ms. Yes, I was confused. 10 yrs ago, I would have sent it again. Yesterday, I called. The publisher was embarrassed and apologized profusely. It was a mistake. She had my full ms in front of her and was about to print out copies for the editorial committee.

    I took advantage of her mistake and asked for a deadline. She offered May 15th as the date she’d get back to me.

    Live and learn, I guess. There was a time when I would have been devastated by their mistake. One more near-miss.

    Today, I’m a little older and a little wiser. Yes, readers sell books, but publisher are still able to mess with your head if you let them.

  4. Julie Kramer Says:

    Hi Pat, I loved the way you crafted this latest blog…letter from an agent. Very slick. You know how to work your audience.

  5. Sheila Deeth Says:

    Thanks for this insight into the brave new world. I guess I made it from England to the US. D’you suppose I’ll ever make it to this New World too?

  6. Sheila Deeth Says:

    Just wandered over to read the first five chapters… Thanks for the introduction.

  7. ~Sia McKye~ Says:

    Publishing has changed and those savvy publishers know that and realize the power behind blogs to generate a buzz for their authors.

    I do realize the irony. They couldn’t give you the time of day before and yet now, you’re being asked to read, review, and promote their author. lolol!

  8. GABixler Says:


    I think you are my most-admired self-promoting author! You do such a fantastic job of being actively involved, while also working to promote your books! To me, you are the role model for authors to follow!

    Congratulations on your two books being published! And thanks for sharing the two letters…it was the perfect “start” to your celebration!

    Think I’ll stop now and come back, but I just wanted to be among the first to wish you all the best with your book sales!


  9. Pat Bertram Says:

    Glenda, Your wonderful comment left me speechless. (Though apparently not wordless.) Thank you. I hope I continue to live up to such high praise.

  10. Joanne L. McGonagle Says:

    Congratulations on your two books being published.
    Wishing you much deserved success!

    Thank you for sharing A letter from an agent.
    Kindest regards,
    Joanne McGonagle

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