OK - so she scared me just a little, and would probably render me speechless if I met her face to face, but Carole Blake has written an essential guide to what agents are looking for, as well as what a writer should be looking at, once they are accepted for publication. She makes no excuses for this text being directed solely at commercial fiction, nor does she sugar coat any of the facts about the difficulty any new author faces when trying to secure the services of either agent or publisher.
Much of the book is taken up with information regarding contracts, royalties and auctions - which, as I am not in the fortunate position of having had any work accepted for publication, I skimmed over.
The initial third of the book covers the nuts and bolts regarding presentation, approach and attitude of the author. It's direct, concise and honest and although it can be read as saying 'you have more chance of becoming immortal, than becoming published' I actually found it refreshing and stimulating.
She notes throughout that some 'selling power' from the author is helpful i.e. they're a 70 year old dyslexic; and if I intend to submit anything to her agency I will have to stop smoking - otherwise my mss is likely to be returned unread.
But if you are serious about your writing and want to become a published writer I would strongly suggest you read from Pitch to Publication. After all, once accepted, you can dip into it again to read up about the auctions, contracts and royalties.