Sunday, October 11, 2015

Literary Agents, Beware!

In the months after completing my second novel—a process that included writing, editing, rewriting, and even more editing—I queried more than 150 literary agents. I received outright rejections from 80 of them; most of the rest completely ignored me. A handful of agents asked to see an example of my work, but that's all. My quest to get representation actually had a happy ending as you can see here, but for most aspiring writers, queries and the manuscripts they represent end up in an agency slush pile.

What would happen if a writer, one who believes he has completed the best novel ever written, started stalking the literary agent who rejected him? And what would happen to that agent if her agency becomes target of a nasty email campaign, and then things take a turn for the worse when her best friend and leading client end up murdered? When the agent fears that she could be the next victim, she unwittingly discovers that the publishing business can be murder.

This is what happens to Jo Donovan, the protagonist of A Dangerous Fiction (Viking, July 2013) by Barbara Rogan. Donovan, the owner and principal agent of a boutique New York literary agency, learns that someone has hijacked the company's email account. All of Donovan's clients are told the very exciting news that their books have been accepted by publishers for publication, when this is far from the truth. Another even more damaging prank is yet to follow.

Much more serious are the murders of a well known author and one of Donovan's best friends. Because Donovan is set to receive a huge inheritance following these deaths, she becomes a leading suspect. The detective assigned to the case is none other than Donovan's former boyfriend.

A Dangerous Fiction is a page-turning mystery with a colorful cast of characters, all of them capable of being behind the threats against Donovan's life and career. And like most mysteries, the villain is the character you would least suspect.

What is special about this very readable novel is the insider knowledge of its author. Rogan, a former literary agent herself, gives readers and aspiring writers alike a look behind the scenes at the agency meetings where manuscripts are accepted or dumped; at the launch parties of successful authors; at the writers conferences where authors compete for the attention of agents and editors; and at the competition between agencies for the next bestseller.

No matter whether you are currently struggling with your work-in-progress or just an avid fan of mystery novels, this book will hold your interest all the way to the end. And if you're a literary agent, my advice to you is to be careful when you reject writers. Otherwise, you will need to spend a good part of your day looking over your shoulder. Don't say I didn't warn you!

Barbara Rogan is the author of eight novels. Previously she worked as an editor for a large New York publisher. After moving to Israel, she was the founder and, for twelve years, director of the Barbara Rogan Literary Agency. Following her return to the U.S., she taught fiction writing at Hofstra University and she currently teaches for Writers Digest University, as well as offering online editing courses and services to fiction writers.

Buy A Dangerous Fiction and read it now!

Read my previous review of Café Nevo by Barbara Rogan.

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