Finding an Agent by Ann O’Loughlin

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Ann O'Loughlin

Ann O'Loughlin

There is one thing for certain, for most writers the path to publication is a long, winding and often lonely route. My journey was no different.

Now, as my eight novel Escape to the Irish Village is published by Bookouture, I sometimes pinch myself to make sure it is all for real. With a number of bestsellers under my belt and my books translated in to eleven languages so far, it has all been a wonderful whirlwind which may never have happened but for a good sprinkling of luck.

When I finished writing my first book The Ballroom Café, I thought it would take some time, but I never knew it would take so long to publication.

My first battle was to find the right agent for my work. I had nearly given up and I was totally fed up with sending out submission after submission. Some did not bother to reply. Others were very interested until the last hurdle and still others rejected because they had already recently signed an author in the same genre.

All during this time, I stayed writing because when I was creating a new story, I was happy and the pesky problem of finding an agent seemed far away.

It is a soul-destroying process and best not to take it personally. If you do, take heart in this gem of a ruse.

Several years ago, a Jane Austen enthusiast decided to find out if the esteemed author would find a publisher and an agent in modern times.

After making only minor changes, he sent off opening chapters and plot synopses to three of Austen’s most famous books to 18 of the UK’s biggest publishers and agents.

He was amazed when all but one sent the manuscripts back with a polite but firm “no thank-you” and almost all failed to spot that he was ripping off one of the world’s most famous literary figures.

Just like that, the agents turned down one of the greatest writers of all time. Only one recipient recognised the submissions as Austen’s work.

ESCAPE TO THE IRISH VILLAGEIt was astonishing when publishers and agents failed to spot they had been sent the work of Austen. One of the rejections every writer will recognise was a gentle suggestion the chapters had been read “with interest” but were not “suited to our list”.

Pride and Prejudice was sent out as First Impressions, an early title Austen had used for it. The names of the main characters and places were changed, but the famous opening line remained the same.

Only one person in the publishing world appeared to have spotted the deception, and he suggested the writer had his copy of Pride and Prejudice “in close proximity to your typewriter”.

Now back to my own story. Lady Luck finally smiled down on me. I was nearly at the last throw of the dice, when I decided to get a submission ready and send it to Jenny Brown of Jenny Brown Associates, Edinburgh, Scotland. Everything I read about this dynamic agent, I liked. What I had not noticed until I had the email submission ready to send was Jenny Brown’s list was closed to submissions.

I wavered, unsure what to do, but decided what had I to lose. Thankfully for me, I had a whole lot to gain.

This is where Lady Luck stepped in.

Jenny Brown was returning to Edinburgh by train from a crime festival. Her laptop had not charged the night before and she was stuck with only her phone for company. Scanning through her emails, in popped mine. With time on her hands, Jenny began to read the first three chapters of my debut novel The Ballroom Café.

It was not long after that she rang me requesting the full manuscript. When the call came I have to admit I was nervous as to why an agent might ring me, and I at first thought she may be cross that I emailed when her list was closed.

When I heard the enthusiasm in Jenny’s voice for my novel and for my writing, I prayed she would continue to be so enthused when she read the full manuscript.

Straight away, I sent over the completed manuscript. Jenny was back within a day suggesting changes and edits. I dived into those edits and with that came the offer of representation. I was lucky, I had taken a chance on sending the submission and Lady Luck ensured that Jenny Brown noticed it. It was the start of a great author agent relationship and a friendship which now sees us celebrating my eight novel Escape to the Irish Village make its way out into the world.

Keep submitting, and keep writing because when Lady Luck does smile on you, it does help if you have Book 2 ready to roll. Good luck!

(c) Ann O’Loughlin

About Escape to an Irish Village:

ESCAPE TO THE IRISH VILLAGECan she finally find the home she’s always wanted?

Emma Wilson is running from a broken marriage after her life has been torn apart, and she’s desperate to start over. Escaping to a small Irish village, Emma begins working for seventy-five-year-old fashion enthusiast Judith McCarthy in her beautiful manor house at the heart of the tight-knit community. The quirky locals give Emma a warm welcome and, inspired by Judith’s passion for life, Emma hopes she can rebuild her life in this village by the sea.

As Emma and Judith’s lives intertwine, Emma meets Judith’s brooding son Miles. At first, the two argue over everything, clashing over decisions about the estate and how to support Judith. But when Emma begins to see a different side to Miles – a hardworking man who will do anything for his family – she can’t deny the attraction between them. But can she open her heart and love again?

Order your copy online here.

About the author

Bestselling author Ann is also a leading journalist in Ireland , Ann O’Loughlin has covered all major news events of the last three decades. Ann spent most of her career with Independent Newspapers and is now a senior journalist with the Irish Examiner newspaper. Ann has also lived in India. Originally from the west of Ireland she now lives on the east coast with her husband and two children. The Judge’s Wife was shortlisted in the Epic Romantic Novel category of the 2017 RoNA awards. The Ballroom Cafe and The Judge’s Wife were both bestsellers for several weeks in Ireland. Ann’s books have been translated into eleven languages.

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