How I Got My First Agent: author Daniel Kemp

Everybody wave hello to ‘How I Got My First Agent’ – a new regular feature at Real Writers’ Guide.

It’s exactly what you might think – personal accounts from writers about how they managed to snare their first rep.

To kick things off, meet Daniel Kemp, who secured a literary agent with his first book Look Both Ways, Then Look Behind – at the age of 62!

If you think that’s an achievement then get this: his third novel The Desolate Garden, published in March 2012 was picked up within eight weeks of being on shelves by a London production company to be made into a $30 million movie.

We’ll dig further into Kemp’s career at a later date. For now, let’s hear more about how he got that agent.

“I sent a typed manuscript of that first story to about a hundred or so agents, receiving only a few replies all of which were negative,” he tells me. “One night the telephone rang and it changed my life. On hearing an agent say that he was interested, I really did think I had made it.

“How wrong can you be? That’s when the hard work started, and it’s still going on. The fact that The Desolate Garden has been optioned (I have now been paid twice for that privilege) is no guarantee of acceptance by readers nor outlets. Sheer persistence and self-belief are the only tools that you, as a writer have. They must be used to the fullest extent.”

Notice that Kemp sent his story to ‘a hundred or so’ literary agents to get just one reply. That’s the kind of hit ratio we’re looking at here, so a) send you work to as many inboxes as possible and b) send it to even more when you don’t hear anything back.

“You can operate without an agent,” Kemp adds, “but they know the business far better than the average writer, so again it’s that quality of being persistent and believing in you and the work that is created.

“First find a list, then research what each agent specialises in. Send them whatever material they require, and then cross everything and wait.”

Look out for more editions of ‘How I got my first agent’ from RWG and more wise words from every type of writer I can get my hands on.

You can find Daniel Kemp’s The Desolate Garden on Amazon.


7 Comments on “How I Got My First Agent: author Daniel Kemp”

  1. Testaccina says:

    Just what I needed to read right now! Thank you!

  2. […] Posted: January 8, 2014 | Author: Tom | Filed under: How I Got My First Agent, Literature, Tips | Tags: author, books,how to get a literary agent, how to get an agent, literature, writer, writers, writing, writing career, writing tips |1 Comment » […]

  3. kelvinoralph says:

    Very inspiring. It’s been a while I considered looking for an agent. This just made me have a rethink.

  4. […] recently did an interview where I was asked ‘how I got an agent?’ it’s on this link:. http://realwritersguide.wordpress. There was a great deal of interest expressed, with some people then actively setting out to do […]

  5. gailslaughter says:

    iam a author with two books on line at and have ten scripts / iam a screenplay writer.iam also writing another script,

  6. GHWard says:

    Inspiring story!!!

  7. […] How I Got My First Agent: author Daniel Kemp → […]

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