Saturday, 5 July 2014

What do you do when your first novel doesn't land you an agent?

Dan Brown published several books before finding true recognition with 'The Da Vinci Code'. JK Rowling had 27 rejections prior to finding an agent. John Fowles famously went to his publisher with the 'French Lieutenant's Woman' and when they asked if he had anything else produced a couple of other manuscripts that went on to be true classics.

So what do you do when your first novel doesn't land you an agent? Despite your utter faith that not only is it a great read, well written and taps into everything true to today - empowering women, supporting victims of violence, love, family and friendship?

Keep writing of course. Find something new, different, stand out. The story that someone else will believe in, enough to stand by you, support you and help you to achieve your end goal. To be published. Write.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013


No, it's not a sneeze. It's a Japanese art form. Apparently. Three lines,17 syllables. So when is a novel not a novel? When it's 45,000 words. It's a short novel for sure. What to do? A story is as long as it is.

I wrote the first paragraph a year ago, before I was anywhere close to finishing my first adult novel. Now, a year on, I have submitted my manuscript to numerous agents and am about 40,000 words through my next story. It's heartening to find this unpublished post which serves as a very welcome reminder that the process might be a long one but it's well worth the effort. I love writing. Nothing can make me stop.

For the love of rejection

One reads time and time again that to be a writer you need a thick skin. Ain't that the truth. Having submitted my manuscript to countless agents, only to receive one rejection after another, it's the positive rejections that hold you up. The ones that say your submission stood out from the rest, that you have an original style, or the ones that positively encourage you to keep on trying.

But what can I do better? When I started the submission process I was thousands of words into my second work. It's more ambitious, possibly overly, will probably be longer and is very, very, different to my first story. So what to say? I have no idea and I really wish someone could give me an answer. In fact, I wish I knew someone I could ask.

For now I'm just going to keep on going. I might try a new approach and mention the second book, what do I have to lose? Out there, somewhere, is an agent with my name on. I'm going to run over every mountain until I find them.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Long Listed for Fish Publishing Short Story Competition

It may not be much to blog about but I'm pleased to have been long-listed for the 2012 Fish Publishing Short Story Competition. Each small step is another move towards  my ultimate goal.  Congratulations to all the other entrants and many thanks to the judges. 

The Best Advice by Far

I've submitted by manuscript to nine prospective agents and publishers so far. In return, I've received nine very polite rejection emails. It has taken between 4 hours and 10 weeks to receive a response from the various parties. Although every single one has been really nicely phrased it is difficult to not let the rejection get you down. I'm beginning to think my story is going to languish in a drawer, never to see the light of day.

I thought I'd share the latest note with you all, it's been the most thorough and thoughtful feedback I've had to date. I'll definitely be taking their advice on board!

By email:

Dear Little VoiceJots

Thank you for sending us your manuscript, and many apologies for the delay in getting back to you.

I’m afraid that we won’t be making you an offer of publication on this occasion. At the moment Stripes has a small, very focused list, featuring mainly series fiction, and we feel that this manuscript would not fit into our current publishing plan. I liked the quirky tone of your writing, but I found the pacing was a little uneven, and it might be best to avoid alternating between viewpoints in a story for this age group. It’s also quite long – I would probably expect a story of half the length (which, with illustrations, could work out as about 96 pages) for readers aged five and above.

Have you considered trying to find yourself an agent? The advantages of being represented by an agent are that they will work with you editorially and will submit your work to publishers who would suit the style and content of your work. If you’re unsure of where to send your submissions, you can find a complete list of UK literary agencies in A&C Black’s Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook.

Thanks once again for sending us your work. I wish you the best of luck in placing your manuscript elsewhere.

To all, other, would be authors out there remember: onwards and upwards. Good Luck!! 

Monday, 21 May 2012

Blogging in the Wind

I've been in a bit of a funk lately.  It feels like nothing is moving forward but rather life is stagnating. No-one can afford to do much, business is quiet. I write and write but feel like I'm not getting very far. It's become abundantly clear to me that I'm not cut out to be a stay at home mum.  It feels like something has to give but I'm not sure what. 

I met an acquaintance on the train this morning. A completely random meeting, I'm not usually on that train and missed the one before by a nano-second so it feels like fate. I don't know her fabulously well, although we've been more than nodding neighbours for around three years.  Our conversation covered a lot of ground over the twenty minute journey and she helped me to realise how blessed I am. I thought I'd write it down for my own reference so I can refer back in my darker days.

Here we go:

I have my own business. It allows me to spend a tiny bit of time with the children in the morning and more importantly leave early so I'm home in time for bed/book routine.  Work has been quiet lately but I enjoy my job, I always have and know how lucky I am to be one of the few people who can truly claim that,

I work near a park where I go running during my lunch hour three times a week. London Zoo is on my route so I see Giraffes and Camels a couple of times a week. Also Herons, Ducks and Canada Geese. The gardens are beautiful and today they were rehearsing a musical for the summer open air theatre programme and strains of Chorus floated through the air. The park is full of happy tourists, students, families and lovers. It's a privilege to spend time there.

I have two beautiful children and a fantastic husband. He's not much domestically but is my tower, my strength, my better half. I would be lost without him and I am a better person with him.

I started writing last September. Since then I have been long listed for two writing competitions, received six publisher rejections for my children's story and am about 43k words through my first adult novel.  Being a writer might be a pipe dream, but at least I'm working to make it happen.

The nice thing about Blogging is it's a bit like therapy. You get to talk, follow your own stream of consciousness and articulate things that are going on in your head.

I've got to sign off now. I should be focusing on my business and trying to drum up some new clients. It might be a bit late for a New Year's resolution but my New Week resolution is to be positive, grateful and try harder.

Wishing you all a good week.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Submitting a Manuscript

I've just received my first rejection letter from a literary agent. It's liberating. Rejection isn't as bad as one might expect. Admittedly it was a very nice letter saying that as a small agency they take on very few of the many writers who approach them each year and, having reviewed my work, feel they are unable to effectively represent me.

Now that is a gentle fob off and it's clearly a standard response but they didn't laugh at me. Some young intern didn't shoot off a cynical, sarcastic missive suggesting I don't give up the day job just yet. For that I thank them.

The downside to this is having followed all the advice from my adult education class, as well as other blogs, I only submitted my manuscript to one agent.  I waited 9 weeks for their response.  Combining this timeframe with  JK Rowling rejection statistics of 18 rejections before finding a publisher it would take me 162 weeks to find an interested party. That is 3.12 years.

I'm not the most patient person in the world but surely that would truly test the commitment and self belief of any author.

The good news is I've since googled 'multiple submissions.' The general rule of thumb is that it is acceptable to make multiple submissions to agents so long as if and when someone does indicate an interest in your work you let the others know.

So go on, get your work out there, give it a go. I truly wish you the best of luck and really hope that soon we have some good news stories to share.