Correspondence With A Literary Agent

I wanted Dr. Russell Razzaque, author of ‘Breaking Down Is Waking Up‘ and Consultant Psychiatrist responsible for introducing Open Dialogue into the NHS to write a foreword to my book.

I was thrilled to get this response from him:

“I just couldn’t put it down. It took my breath away. Your prose is so captivating it just draws you in completely. It’s such a powerful and important book you have written. Thank you. And thank you for sharing it with me. I will be honoured to write the forward.”

When he finished reading it, he missed it, he said. It is one of those books that is great to be in. He loved it so much he wrote to his agent to tell them they should take me on.

The agent liked the first three chapters and asked to see the rest of the manuscript. I’d sent it to 34 agents already and none had wanted to go beyond the sample material – so I was very excited.

What the agent said:

Dear Emma

Many thanks for sending over the manuscript which I read with great interest.

First of all I have to say I really enjoyed your writing – it’s evocative, intelligent and thoughtful.  I can well understand why Russell rates your material so highly and, of course, it does offer the perfect example of the work he is involved with.  Your spiritual journey certainly had resonance for me – I have some experience of energy work – Reiki – so it was a personally interesting read.  Given that, I wish I felt confident about the commercial potential but I do have reservations.  Some are down to the difficulties which you find in any memoir – legal issues involving libel and privacy.  Even if something is true – like your colleagues’ and former partner’s drug or sex addiction – and is common knowledge, they may not want that raised twenty years on or whatever; even if you voice an opinion about someone – it may well be your personal opinion but it could conceivably be actionable at law.

Also, I think the material rather falls between two stools in terms of the subject.  Although inextricably linked, your spiritual journey to which your story is weighted makes this much more of a MBS (Mind Body Spirit) book rather than a hard hitting memoir looking at emotional crisis and the state of the mental health system – I think the latter would probably work better from a commercial perspective especially as I felt that, latterly, the spiritual experiences were slightly repetitive.  

So, although I think there is a huge amount to recommend your writing and your story, I don’t think this is quite for me but I do hope you find the right person soon.

With regrets and very best wishes,

My Response to the Agent:

Dear Caroline,

Many thanks for taking the time to read my book. I’m thrilled that you read the whole thing and it was good to get your thumbs up for my writing. I’ve sent it out to 34 other agents and you are the first to request the full manuscript so thank you.

For the record, my ex husband doesn’t give the book his blessing but has said he won’t fight me. As for any other potential legal issues, I have an editor doing a line edit at the moment and she’s seeing what needs to be removed/amended.

I believe that crossing over genres is a strength, especially in this day and age of online shopping. 17,000 people a month search ‘psychosis’ into Amazon and that is a LOT of opportunities to convert to sales. The word ‘psychosis’ on the cover would also be eye catching with Amazon/Facebook/Instagram ads. Putting it in Amazon’s ‘tragic life story’ category (amongst others) would require only 17 sales per day to beat the no. 1 bestseller in that category.

I see it as a forerunner – it is both MBS AND mental health memoir because it puts across the idea that a psychotic experience can be viewed as a form of spiritual awakening. As Russell’s book ‘Breaking Down Is Waking Up’ suggests, my book is simply the first hand account. It also shows that spiritual practice can lead to mental health problems – something that the MBS world should take into account. It as a modern book – with a purpose – for anyone interested in seeing a change in our mental health system. I believe it could make waves and, with the right backing, be talked and written about in our national and international media: a forerunner to a transformed mental health service that in ten or twenty years time will have Open Dialogue as it’s heart.

Thanks once again for your valuable input and professional feedback.

All the best,


Onwards and upwards!

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