Twelve years ago I penned my first fictional megalith; Selah – a Rebellious Hope. Within a month I had received glowing reviews from national press and landed a foreword from a New York Times bestselling author. It was like a wall of optimism building itself around my brain activity.
The book was launched at the Gherkin in London, with a bespoke cocktail menu named after the characters in the book. Within a year I had sold the rights of the work to a film company on Oxford Street. I contacted 150 agents across the planet. Three agents replied to my approach for representation. One told me it was one of the strongest works of fantasy he had read in a long time. I did not land an agent.
Five years later I finished the second installment; Selah – Those who Arrive in Darkness. More national reviews came in and readers flooded my channels with praise and comparisons to my literary heroes. BBC interviews came and went. I contacted 200 agents worldwide. I didn’t get a response. Nothing. The wall of optimism began to crack like a fucked egg.
Two years ago I finished my first book of short stories; Boxman series one. National press lost their shit with the work and likened it to the great Stephen King. I didn’t know whether to orgasm or faint. The publisher was very confused as to why I hadn’t yet landed an agent. I joked it was because I was existing under a literary vortex created by Tolkien in his dying breath. He didn’t laugh either. One short story that came immediately after the launch, ‘Aiko’, was shortlisted for an established Sci Fi anthology. A designer is now turning the work into a graphic novel. 235 agents were contacted. Sweet nothing has come back. Nothing. Nada. The wall of optimism suffered a partial collapse.
Last week I finished the first episode of a screenplay called The House of the Black Plate. It has been described by critics as ‘Like the offspring of Game of Thrones and Blackadder’. So far, I’ve been told by every major broadcasting house that because it’s ‘unsolicited’ it will not even be opened. In an attempt to become ‘solicited’ I contacted 35 production companies. In a twist of the vortex-fate that frames my career, I have been told that they too refuse to read the work of unrepresented writers.
And then it came to me.
How do you guarantee yourself an agent? Easy. Look at my career and do the exact fucking opposite. Do not study a creative degree. Do not become a newspaper journalist. Do not write nationally endorsed books and scripts. Do not write anything, in fact. And by not doing all of the above, you will have far more success than I ever did. I mean, it’s literally impossible to have less.
Good luck on your journey. If you see me in a tavern, weeping onto a Hobbit’s shoulder, don’t worry. I’m just coming to terms with what’s left of the wall of optimism.