Wednesday, 18 April 2018

The Long Road to Publication - Part 4

By Andy Smith

All quiet on the western front at the moment as I am in ‘waiting to hear back from agents’ mode. Again. Had some rejections, sent it off to some others, still waiting to hear back from others. Have also sent it off to some publishers. Yes, there are still some who will accept un-agented submissions, but it takes them just as long to get back to you.

At this point we should insert Standard Rant Number 642, including “why does it take so long?”, “every agent and publisher wants things in a slightly different format”, “the whole process is completely demoralising”, etc. I doubt there’s much I could add which everyone in the same boat hasn’t already thought!

I’ve also been looking at some of the submissions I sent off a while back (before the First Page competition). I can see that some of my earlier submissions are basically not as good as the things I’m sending out now, in terms of the cover letter, the synopsis and getting the novel as polished as it can be.

The obvious question is: “If what you’re sending now is better than what you sent originally, how come you’re still not getting anywhere?” To which I would reply that I’m getting more agents considering what I send now rather than rejecting me out of hand, and some agents are asking to see the whole MS; but that still doesn’t properly answer the question. (Doesn’t answer it for me either.)

There might be a bit of a problem with running out of agents who deal in the sort of stuff I’m writing. I started off sending it to those agents who I thought were most likely to be interested, but that means they got the not-so-good submission. Now I’ve refined and improved everything, I’m having to send it off to agents who might not be into my sort of writing. So they get this wonderful submission which isn’t really for them.

Obviously my current situation doesn’t put me in any position to comment, but I’m going to anyway. I’ve seen lots of articles and posts saying things like ‘when you’ve got your novel finished, don’t submit it straight away. Leave it for a while. Then go back to it, re-edit it, get it proof read, re-edit it again; and make sure it’s as good as it can be.’ I think I would add ‘make sure the rest of your submission package is as good as it can be too.’ We live and learn.

I will press on. Having realised that I may have shot myself in the foot early on, I’m still hoping to find an agent who does appreciate what I’m writing, and will also get the benefit of the new improved submission. We shall see.

WWJ NOTE: Andy has agreed to let The WWJ Clinic look at and suggest improvements to his cover letter and synopsis - stand by for next time.


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