Literary Agents
And the TLS

[The following item appeared in the NB. section of the TLS for 27 September 2002]

Following the story of Clive Birch and the literary agent who amuses himself by laughing his way through the slush pile (see NB. September 13), we have received many plaintive letters from fellow sufferers. A writer with an extensive collection of rejection slips is Carlos Amantea, of California. Author of a number of published books, he has yet to find an agent willing to represent his latest, A Geezer in Paradise. The excuses Mr Amantea has received are varied.

One agent, regretting that she had "a very full list," invited him to a conference to listen to her speak, but cautioned: "Listening to me lecture is not enough." She added a riddle for Mr Amantea to ponder: "I really need to have time on a one-on-one with you to have actually asked for your manuscript."

Another agent suffered from a similar syntactical deficiency: "We've reviewed your submission, however, regrettably, it's not deemed appropriate that this agency represent it."

J. J. Hawkins & Associates sent a form letter saying they would "personally like to thank you for sending in your query. It is indeed a worthy creative endeavour and one that will get a lot of attention." Not from J. J. Hawkins, though.

At least these responses were made on a literary basis. Susan Herner replied that Mr Amantea's book had arrived at an inconvenient time, "as I am moving both home and office to Connecticut. I hope you can empathize with the amount of sorting and packing I must do." Robert H. Liberman couldn't take on A Geezer in Paradise because he was "busy promoting my own novel The Last Boy." Considerate to the last, he told Mr Amantea where to buy a copy.

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