This is a big issue for me Harry. I have four books, two children's fiction and two adult. The latter two have been through a thorough consultancy and editing process and the editor was wild about them. The consultancy gave top marks and said they were ready for submission and were highly likely to get published. I have sent the first to 20 agents and not even a word back (well, except the 'not for us I'm afraid' word or two). And I am stuck.
Is it that the genre is not in vogue? Do publishers only want oplit/uplit whatever? Have I chosen something only suitable for a niche market? And who to ask? Or, am I simply a terrible cover letter and pitch writer?
So, right now I am stuck. I have a dozen different ideas, most planned out to some extent and a half dozen started. But I come to the stop, the impasse, the ginger biscuit moment . . . but they don't sell ginger biscuits here in Sao Paulo. (I did find some digestives but they were terrible). On top of that I have run out of tea bags.
What I feel I need is some one-to-one on my cover letter/pitch and synopsis rather than the books themselves.
I was interested to hear you have got advances based on plans and that an agent sat down with you before you had more than a couple of chapters. I can imagine that might happen with an already published author but . . . I mean, did you have to arrange a kidnapping? I am open to all possibilities.
Hmm. Yeah. Other consultancies aren't as brutal as us, so it's quite common for us to hear, "editor was wild about the book, but ..." The issue there is that the editor just wasn't tough enough in the first place. We put our money where our mouth is: we either tell you how to fix the MS, or we help you get an agent. That means we can't take the easy way out and just offer empty praise. We're not always the cheapest. And writers don't always love what we tell them. But we ARE good at what we do, and we do get results!
On getting an advance via a proposal: yes, it's perfectly possible - no kidnap involved - but it only works for non-fiction. With fiction, almost always, you need to write the whole damn book first ...