In this extract from Writers' & Artists' Guide To How To Hook an Agent — a quick-fire introduction to the process of gaining literary agent representation — James Rennoldson considers whether there's any truth to the idea that having either enrolled on a creative writing course or investing in an editing service means writers have a better chance of gaining literary agent representation...
You’re under no obligation to do either, and should only go down either route provided you’re comfortable with absorbing the costs as there can be no guarantee of ‘success’ where agent representation and/or a publishing agreement is concerned. Also, are you absolutely clear about what you’re paying for? Shop around, do your research and make sure that what you’re committing to will truly give your writing what it needs. Do you need a copy-edit to tidy up typos or factual inconsistencies, for example? Or do you need a developmental edit, with a report on plot structure and character arcs; the sort of things your beta readers might have mentioned and you feel you need a professional opinion on before beginning to make changes?
Affordability aside, it’s hard to argue against either an editing service or a reputable writing course being useful for the development of your writing. Writers who enrol on courses, for example, are paying not only for expert guidance but also for the time and space to develop their work. This, along with being pushed to read widely and the exposure to receiving feedback on a manuscript, can have a transformative effect on a manuscript. Editing services, meanwhile, are all about your book receiving objective feedback from someone working to an industry standard. Where does it work well and in which sections does it fall short? Subjecting your writing to this sort of critique could result in an entirely different view of a manuscript, and be the catalyst for changes that take it to another level.
Written in Q&A format, the Writers' & Artists' Guide To How To Hook an Agent is an introduction to the process of submitting a manuscript to literary agents, and is directly inspired by popular questions asked by writers that have attended our long-running series of events of the same name. If you're looking for a literary agent to represent your manuscript order your copy here, or to find out about our latest events click here.