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right write


but you can follow me cybernetically – foto by Smith

18 months ago I sent out 40-50 inquiries trying to find a literary agent for help in getting our book published, but all I got was totally ignored or no’d except for one woman who insulted my writing but asked us to send her a non-fiction book proposal anyway, and then dropped us when I did.

It’s taken me 18 months to get ready to try again. After a year of final rewrites and months dragging my feet, last night I finally reread my original letter to see how I might tweak it a bit to try again and was embarrassed at how bad it was. I’d written it using a How To Find A Literary Agent manual and it seriously sucked — I was lucky to get the one response we did.

So I wrote my own letter — screw the accepted rote rules. If this doesn’t get a bite in these content-hungry times, something’s seriously wrong with this universe.

~ ~ ~

Dear Literary Agent

Criminal – A true story of armed robbery, stolen cars, alternative art, mainstream poetry, underground publishing, robbing the cradle, and leaving the country by Smith & Lady.

Criminal is the story of my first 60 years, which began in the Bitterroot Mountains in the 1940s; grew on a forty acre farm on Paradise Prairie in the 50s; got kicked out of the Naval Academy and into the drug art hippie scene in the 60s; started the 70s in prison; spent the 80s getting established as an artist poet publisher drunk; drank to death in the 90s; and in the aughts ended up married to a lady ten inches shorter and twenty-seven years younger while living out of backpacks in ten different countries on three continents.

My wife and I have turned this and more into a self-deprecating, slightly humorous 103,530 word 326 page memoir which we hope you would consider reading for representation.

The Delinquent magazine in London, UK, published three excerpts in their first three issues in 2006-7, and Troubadour 21 currently has five excerpts online at troubadour21.com/author/smith/.

There are forty-three newspaper reviews, articles, and blurbs from 1984 through 2006 online at agentofchaos.com/reviews.php which cover my art, life, publishing and poetry.

My first poem was published in 1964, my latest this year. I’ve been in perhaps fifty group and solo art shows and have over a hundred poems and collages published in the small press in the past 27 years.

We have three websites — our life travel art blog WalkingThinIce.com, my art and poetry AgentOfChaos.com, and Lady’s art poetry zine theCityPoetry.com — which combined had 1,853,693 page views in 2009.

We have a non-fiction book proposal we can send, and have included one chapter—My First Armed Robbery—after our signature.

Thank you for your time and consideration. We hope to hear from you soon.

~ ~ ~


my memoir co-author co-conspirator – foto by Smith

2 Responses to “right write”

  1. Jesus Crisis says:

    Pretty good letter overall – I’ll be surprised if interests aren’t piqued.

  2. smith says:

    i feel good about this letter and our new chances – these are my words on my life cooked down to a simple read tease. i have good feelings for this go-round. gonna get this baby in print. it’s a much finer book than the version you read… better flow, more interesting, more segue. start sending out letters may 311 – the last day of may, as in we may as well get criminal on the road and may we succeed and may may not be not.

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