What Have You Done or Not Done Recently?

Recently I have been sending a lot of e-mails to literary agents. I want to get a science fiction novel I wrote published, and for that I need an agent. The majority of famous authors have literary agents who represent their work and help them make money from it. Agents are skilled negotiators with lots of contacts in the publishing industry. They make money by taking a portion of the profits from a book’s sales, so it is in their best interests to make the author’s work a success.

There was a time when authors could send their work directly to a publishing house and if it was good, that publisher would print it and sell it to book shops, however the industry has grown too big nowadays. To sift through the huge number of letters from aspiring authors, publishing houses would have to employ workers just for this purpose. Instead, dedicated literary agents have taken up this role, and they work together with publishers (and later with translators and foreign publishers) to bring books to customers.

Sometimes you hear people complain that nobody reads anymore, but that clearly isn’t true. It seems the book market is expanding as the world’s population increases. There are more genres than ever before, some incredibly specific. For example, the simple label “science fiction” doesn’t tell us much in a world with so many science fiction writers and readers. The genre has been split into many sub-genres. ‘Space opera’ deals with adventures in space, travel between planets and aliens. ‘Hard-sci-fi’ uses realistic science and is usually written by those with a background in a scientific field. ‘Dystopia’s’ deal with tragic or terrifying futures, usually with totalitarian governments. ‘Cyber-punk’ usually involves highly advanced technology but characters of low social ranking -“punks”. Finally, genres like ‘Al’ and ‘Virtual Reality’ are pretty self-explanatory.

Nowadays, self-publishing is becoming more and more popular. The Internet is a great source of information on how to do this and many sites can help you find an editor to polish your work, an artist to design a nice cover and a printer who can produce the book for you. Once you’ve done all this, it’s easy to put your book up on sites like Amazon and promote it through blogs and YouTube commercials. I think this route is a great idea for many amateur writers, but it’s not for me personally. In the future, I want writing to be my career, and the fact is, almost everyone who writes as their primary source of income has had their work published by one of the world’s large publishing houses. While it is possible to make money from a self-published book, it’s unlikely you can make writing your career in this way.

As for what I have not done recently- I haven’t found a literary agent willing to represent my work yet. While there are more potential readers than ever before, there are more aspiring writers too. This means the industry is incredibly competitive! Sadly, I have submitted my work to 47 agents so far and I have already received 37 rejections.

Wish me luck! I need it.



in (one’s) best interests (exp.) – most beneficial to
there was a time when… (exp.) – in the past; once upon a time
sift (v) – to examine carefully and organize (usually for a large quantity of something)
aspiring (adj.) – hoping to become/ do something
totalitarian (adj.) – relating to an all-powerful government with complete authority
polish (v) – improve; refine; add finishing touches to