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John Jarrold

editing_for_authors
Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

Popeyesays

Now departed. Rest in peace, Scott, from all of us
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I got this reply from John Jarrold which I will append entire. I like him. I think he's a pro in any sense, and an individual would be lucky to land him as an agent.

Dear Scott

As promised, I have now read your material – apologies for the delay. I can see the imagination at work here, but I can’t honestly say I loved it. After fifteen years in publishing, I'm all too aware how difficult it is to get a publisher interested in a new writer, so I feel that I do have to love my clients' work - personally and professionally - to do the best possible job. If I don't feel that strongly, I'm the wrong agent.

The entry level for a new novelist now is 'special', not 'good'. This is partially because sales and marketing directors have so much more power than they did ten years ago. If they don't believe they will be able to sell a first novel into W H Smiths and the rest of the bookselling trade in numbers, they'll block the editor from acquiring it. A senior editor told me a few weeks ago that even if he loved an author's writing, he wouldn't make an offer until the book that was submitted to him was 100% right for the market - he has just acquired an author whose previous four novels he (and everyone else in London) had turned down despite liking them a great deal. Thus, I have to believe the writers I take on (and the books they send me) are truly wonderful, or it's pointless submitting them.


FYI, I've taken on about twenty writers as clients and turned down over 1100, so far...I know it can be as difficult to get an agent as it is to be taken on by a publisher. You just have to keep plugging away.

All best wishes for the future.

Yours


John Jarrold
Website: https://www.sff.net/people/john-jarrold/

Web Forum:
http://www.chronicles-network.com/forum/publishing/

Blog: http://jjarrold.livejournal.com/
 

Andrew Jameson

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You're being sarcastic, right? John, for whatever reason, asks for the first six (!) chapters up front, so anyone who queries him sends in material. I don't think it's reasonable to expect him to do a detailed critique of everyone who submits. As a form rejection of a query, this one's pretty well-crafted.
 

ATP

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I am not a novelist, published or otherwise.

But, from often reading the B & BC and Rejections forums, this strikes me as about some of the best insight into and information about the agent-publisher relationship, and the changes that have occurred within the industry affecting them both, that a rejected writer is likely to receive. 'Straight from the horse's mouth', as it were.The point about the power shift from within editorial to marketing is especially telling.
 

Gillhoughly

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That's way better than the turning point rejection I got, which was "You're a good writer, just unpublishable."

WTF?

Then I read between the lines--the agent wanted a fast, easy sale and my cross-genre 1st effort would require extra work on his part to make that happen. (Found out later he was going into a meltdown in his life so it's good I didn't go with him.)

So I rewrote the whole %^&$# novel, again, and the next time out it sold.

Stay at it! Stay at it! Stay at it!!!!!!
 

Popeyesays

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Gillhoughly said:
That's way better than the turning point rejection I got, which was "You're a good writer, just unpublishable."

WTF?

Then I read between the lines--the agent wanted a fast, easy sale and my cross-genre 1st effort would require extra work on his part to make that happen. (Found out later he was going into a meltdown in his life so it's good I didn't go with him.)

So I rewrote the whole %^&$# novel, again, and the next time out it sold.

Stay at it! Stay at it! Stay at it!!!!!!

It's already out to two more agents in query form.

I just queried John at first with no inclusion. We exchanged a half-dozen e-mails in the process. From comparing the writing of the e-mails and the responses to questions asked and answered, I have no doubt it was personal rather than form. I appreciate his response a lot and recommend him without hesitation, he handles publication on both sides of the Atlantic directly, by the way, so foreign sales are not a big problem to him.

I still have it out to two other agents and two publishers, I won't give it up, though if it is not placed by October or November, I'm going to do a re-write on it which I have planned anyway.

Currently I have two projects ongoing and am writing my own gnarly nookie tales for eXtasy Books, so I'm in it for as long as I get to string two thoughts together.

Regards,
Scott
 

Andrew Jameson

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Popeyesays said:
I just queried John at first with no inclusion. We exchanged a half-dozen e-mails in the process. From comparing the writing of the e-mails and the responses to questions asked and answered, I have no doubt it was personal rather than form.
It's a form response (but a good one). With the exception of a small tweak of the first line, I got the same letter.
 

mistri

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Andrew Jameson said:
It's a form response (but a good one). With the exception of a small tweak of the first line, I got the same letter.

Me too - with a few differences including a paragraph on specific flaws in the story. I'll submit to him again as soon as I finish my current WIP. He knows his stuff. I'm pretty sure I used to send him speculative (and probably annoying) letters back when he was an SF/F editor and I was trying to work in publishing.

Good luck with the agent search :)
 
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GeoffNelder

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Andrew Jameson said:
It's a form response (but a good one). With the exception of a small tweak of the first line, I got the same letter.

Yes, John makes use of a template, but a personalised one. John, unlike most agents, doesn't use professional readers and reads all the material himself. He receives 20 subs a week, probably more with the Hills & Hills ship sinking and the survivng writers swimming in all directions looking for agent lifeboats, like his.

From the comments above, you know that John is keen for all those eager writers to have an understanding of the contemporary commercial publishing industry and his feedback reflects that with respect to why their work would or wouldn't fit in. Without incurring time travel techniques he encounters in some of the SF novels, it would be phyically imporssible for him to present a closely-reasoned letter to every submitter.

As we know most agents, as most publishers, sends us a note with a simple 'not for us', John goes further, and we become better marketeers as well as writers as a result.

Geoff
 
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SJAB

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James D. Macdonald said:
Most agents use "professional readers"?

News to me.

Me too, thought they used the "Bob Cratchett" assistant to weed out the slush pile, (least the poor soul can use the manuscripts on the fire instead of asking for another bucket of coal) ;) then read any promising ones themselves.
 

GeoffNelder

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James D. Macdonald said:
Most agents use "professional readers"?

News to me.
Ah, maybe I'm wrong then, after all that info came from secret 'agent' Christopher HIl, although I know acquisition editors such as Jo Fletcher at Gollancz publishing house uses readers. Geoff
 

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