What it takes to find one new client, statistically speaking

Although 2011 is far from over, I’m eager to figure out what the statistics might be able to show me about my business. Fairly consistently, as it turns out, I must read a dozen full manuscripts to find one that I like and consider commercially viable, so I can offer to represent the author to publishers. I don’t know how I can make the reading part of the client selection process more efficient.

blue penOver the past few years, I’ve tinkered with methods of discovering a variety of manuscripts from which to cull the few I’d like to read. This part of the process—gathering prospects—is more variable, and I continue to experiment.

I’ve always known that I enjoy foreign voices. Like poetry, a novel written in a foreign voice requires of a reader some extra effort and concentration. Unusual syntax slows comprehension slightly, which can make reading more of a feast—or a convivium, as proponents of the Slow Food movement would describe the pleasure.

Elegant writing has become rare in the US, but I still appreciate it in essays and in fiction with intricate, sophisticated plots. Precision makes me happy. The purposeful use of malapropisms can be cool. So, go for it. Claim they were used to create the voice.

3 Replies to “What it takes to find one new client, statistically speaking”

  1. We are attracted to some popular books because the plot tantalises, the author is famous, or a scandal surrounding book/author/subject appeals to our voyeuristic bent. Books that offer nothing more–especially depth and elegant writing–are the McDonald burgers of the literary world, popular but hardly satisfying. We don’t need to be ashamed about reading burger-books but we should try richer fare as well.

  2. Yes, well… I’ll be the first to confess that I bought a hardcover edition of Peggy Lipton’s autobiography from the secondhand store not too long ago—and read it. I also persuaded my mother to buy me her really-not-very-good LP when I was a kid. But someday, I swear, I’m going to finish Ulysses. Maybe.

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