What More Do These Agents Want Us To Do?

Or It’s Just Not Very British

I was nearly trapped on the train after arriving at Waterloo this morning so desperate was I to get a retweet out. The signal was a little unstable so I wanted to wait until the confirmation pinged back at me that the Tweet had gone. The guard was announcing that the train was now out of service and the doors were beeping feverishly by the time I had gathered my belongings and hopped onto the platform.

It was all a little undignified. The Tweet I was trying to send was to an agent who I am currently stalking, sorry engaging with, which I find even more undignified. If you have read any of my previous blogs you will know that I was given some sound advice that to improve my very slim chances of anyone publishing my novel I should have a social media presence. I have blended this knowledge with more advice I have been reading, also around the theme of upping the odds, which states that any aspiring authors should spend time researching and understanding the agent they are hoping will take them on. No generic covering letters, oh no, it needs to be specifically tailored. So this is what I have been doing. Seeking out these unsuspecting agents and following them. Keeping a watchful eye on their Tweets or their latest blog posts and dreaming up something pithy and insightful or funny as a reply or a comment hoping that it will catch their eye, make them see that I am packed full of talent and my amazing submission package currently languishing in their slush pile needs to be plucked right out of there pronto.

It all feels a bit brazen and shameless. Wantonly displaying myself before them hoping they will notice me. But I think this is a very British way of feeling. I think most other sane people will realise that this is all part of the business and be very comfortable with this virtual equivalent of tapping on the car windows. Of course there is never any response back, no acknowledgement, so I squirrel away in a vacuum wondering if it is making any difference. I see books similar to mine, find out who represents the author, look up their website to try and glean some nugget of information, then find that agent on Twitter and follow them. I then harvest as much detail as I can to craft a bespoke covering letter which makes it sound like they are the only agents I am approaching and if they don’t want it then frankly I will throw in the towel. They know and I know and they know I know that this isn’t the case. That I am thumbing through the Writers and Artists Yearbook and ticking the agents off as I go. So what’s the point? I have already invested a significant amount of resource of writing the damn book isn’t that enough commitment shown?

In a desperate bid to up my followers (climbing embarrassingly slowly) I have been following back everyone who follows me and as a result my Twitter home feed is stuffed full of all sorts of old tut I am not interested in. Therefore the beginning of my train journey to work is now filled with ignoring my home feed but searching my target agents to see if they have Tweeted of note and if so how can I comment, reply, favourite or at the very least re-Tweet in a grasping bid to curry favour.  I wonder what all these agents think about it? Whether they enjoy watching us squirm as another follower pops onto their feed, shortly followed by a little flurry of retweets and favourites and lo and behold a submission.

I guess I am being cynical. Far too British about it. These are the rules and this is what I am going to have to do. Be less buttoned up about it and embrace it with gusto. After all, what else am I going to do to keep myself amused on my train journey to work?


Out of Time Out of Ideas

Or just another flipping thing on the to do list

I have been fretting and worrying about this blog since about Tuesday. It has been a constant presence hovering at my shoulder swelling gradually as the week has gone by. Prodding and poking me, nudging me to get writing, reminding me that by Wednesday at the very least I usually have a draft down, something I can refine and edit until I am ready to publish on the train journey into work on Friday morning.

But this week nothing. My mind was blank. I had nothing to say this week. Nothing of value, or interest to contribute. I was panicking. Everything I have read about maintaining a successful blog says you must post regularly. That is the number one rule. If you post every Friday then you must post every Friday. Don’t miss a week for heavens sake otherwise the blogosphere will punish you. You will lose all your followers who will be disillusioned at your obvious lack of commitment and writing flakiness. They will never come back. I also infer that jeering and booing and maybe even some Twitter trolling might occur too. It didn’t bear contemplating.

I needed a subject. I needed some words of wisdom about how difficult it is to write and hold down a full time job at the same time. But this week I haven’t had any little space in my full up brain to even think about writing let alone a post on my blog. Meetings from 9am to 5pm on Tuesday and Wednesday, out of the office all day Thursday and on a Leadership Day all day Friday at which I am presenting. On top of that my youngest daughter has headed off on a residential school trip and I am off on holiday next week for a fortnight and need to make sure I have everything ready.

So pulling out my ipad on this morning’s train journey I was really cross with my blog. Fed up with writing and the pressure it puts me under. Resentful that I can’t just sit and flick through the paper, or watch a comedy on iplayer or read a book on my journey in. I have to rustle up a blog post out of nowhere. And here it is! It was whilst I was raging at myself in my head I realised that here was the content for my blog.

I don’t have the luxury of pouring a cup of tea and relaxing at my desk, the whole day spread before me to write and create at a leisurely pace. For me writing is another on the long list of things for me to do. And it makes me feel guilty and bad if I don’t keep it up. If the train is packed and I can’t get a seat in the morning which means I can’t Tweet or, like this week, when I am very busy and don’t have the time to think about a blog post. Added pressure in this already stuffed full life.

So apologies to you all if there are a few mistakes in this post. I bashed it out in about 20 minutes. And just to let you know that I won’t post over the next two weeks because I am on holiday. And whilst I will be working on my second novel whilst I relax on the sun lounger (and can’t wait to have some time to do that) I am letting the blogging and the Tweeting go for a fortnight. If you all abandon me then so be it. But thinking about it, judging from the lovely and positive comments I have had about my blog and how much it seems to resonate with you I am hopeful that most of you will understand and let me off. There is only such much we can all do!