Skip to Content

Problem page


WritersServices Problem Page

Do you have a problem you’d like to share with other writers? Email us, marking it ‘Problem page’ and if we think it’s of interest to other writers we’ll answer it on our new page. Don’t worry about privacy, we will only use your initials and general location if we reply to your letter on the site.

We regret that we cannot answer all letters individually, although we will do our best to help.  There are many pages of advice on the site, so use please use these freely to help resolve your problem.

Here's our second letter:

Dear WritersServices

I'm getting dizzy with the effort of finding an agent.  Every single one I've sent my work to has turned it down, often after weeks of keeping it.  One of them took four months and then just said that it wasn't what the market was looking for.  That's ten agents I've tried!

What do I do next and is there any point in approaching publishers direct?

J C B, Abingdon

PS  My book is a fantasy novel.

Our reply:

Dear Mr B

Are you sending the full manuscript to the agents you're getting in touch with?  It's important to follow the guidelines the agents set, so if they ask you for a synopsis and two chapters, this is all you should send. 

But first you should research what individual agencies deal with (see our agency listings), as otherwise you may be sending it to the wrong place.  Many agencies don't handle fantasy at all and you'd be better off with an agent who is really knowledgeable about the genre and keen to represent fantasy authors.

So, have a careful trawl through the listings before you start and check out our page on finding an agent.  Our tips on making submissions may also help.  It's always good to try to find an agent who is actively looking for new clients (try the newer agencies or phone up to see which agents in a big agency are building a client list).

I would advise you to keep trying the agents as it really is quite difficult to get publishers' attention if you go direct to them. If you do still want to try this (and it can work better for non-fiction), research the publishers carefully and make sure that you address your letter to the right editor.

Make sure that your work is ready for publication before you start submitting it. Feel confident that you've reworked it until you're satisfied.  If you're not sure, you could consider using our services to get a professional appraisal.

The best of luck!


Chris HolifieldManaging director of WritersServices; spent working life in publishing,employed by everything from global corporations to start-ups; track record includes: editorial director of Sphere Books, publishing director of The Bodley Head, publishing director for start-up of upmarket book club, The Softback Preview, editorial director of Britain’s biggest book club group, BCA, and, most recently, deputy MD and publisher of Cassell & Co. She is also currently the Director of the Poetry Book Society; During all of this time aware of problems faced by writers, as publishing changed from idiosyncratic cottage industry, 'occupation for gentlemen', into corporate business of today. Writers encountered increasing difficulty in getting books edited or published. Authors create the books which are the raw material for the whole business. She believes it is time to bring them back to centre stage.