How I Got My First Literary Agent.

Part of an Interview I gave to Real Writers’ Guide.

How I Got My First Agent: author Daniel Kemp

Posted: January 8, 2014 | Author:  | Filed under: How I Got My First AgentLiteratureTips | Tags: , |1 Comment »

Everybody wave hello to ‘How I Got My First Agent’ – a new regular feature at Real Writers’ Guide.

It’s exactly what you might think – personal accounts from writers about how they managed to snare their first rep.

To kick things off, meet Daniel Kemp, who secured a literary agent with his first book Look Both Ways, Then Look Behind – at the age of 62!

If you think that’s an achievement then get this: his second novel The Desolate Garden, published in March 2012 was picked up within eight weeks of being on shelves by a London production company to be made into a $30 million movie.

We’ll dig further into Kemp’s career at a later date. For now, let’s hear more about how he got that agent.

“I sent a typed manuscript of that first story to about a hundred or so agents, receiving only a few replies all of which were negative,” he tells me. “One night the telephone rang and it changed my life. On hearing an agent say that he was interested, I really did think I had made it.

“How wrong can you be? That’s when the hard work started, and it’s still going on. The fact that The Desolate Garden has been optioned (I have now been paid twice for that privilege) is no guarantee of acceptance by readers nor outlets. Sheer persistence and self-belief are the only tools that you, as a writer have. They must be used to the fullest extent.”

Notice that Kemp sent his story to ‘a hundred or so’ literary agents to get just one reply. That’s the kind of hit ratio we’re looking at here, so a) send you work to as many inboxes as possible and b) send it to even more when you don’t hear anything back.

“You can operate without an agent,” Kemp adds, “but they know the business far better than the average writer, so again it’s that quality of being persistent and believing in you and the work that is created.

“First find a list, then research what each agent specialises in. Send them whatever material they require, and then cross everything and wait.”

Look out for more editions of ‘How I got my first agent’ from RWG and more wise words from every type of writer I can get my hands on.

The Desolate Garden..Amazon….Com

The Desolate Garden..Amazon….Co


About Danny Kemp

I was at work one sunny November day in 2006, stopped at a red traffic light when a van, driven incompetently, smashed into me. I was taken to St Thomas' Hospital and kept in for a while, but it was not only the physical injuries that I suffered from; it was also mental ones. I had lost confidence in myself let alone those around me. The experts said that I had post-traumatic stress disorder, which I thought only the military or emergency personnel suffered from. On good days, I attempted to go to work, sometimes I even made it through Blackwell Tunnel only to hear, or see, something that made me jump out of my skin and that's when the anxiety attacks would start. I told my wife that I was okay and going regularly, but I wasn't. I could not cope with life and thought about ending it. Somehow or other with the help of my wife and medical professionals, I managed to survive and ever so slowly rebuild my self-esteem. It took almost four years to fully recover, but it was during those dark depressive days that I began to write. My very first story, Look Both Ways, Then Look Behind, found a literary agent but not a publisher. He told me that I had a talent, raw, but nevertheless, it was there. His advice was to write another story and that I'm delighted to say, I did. The success of that debut novel, The Desolate Garden, was down to sheer hard work, luck, and of course, meeting a film producer.
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One Response to How I Got My First Literary Agent.

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