It is a little over a year now that I have been at my current job heading up the communications department at a large UK charity. I started on a six month contract and must confess I didn’t think I would be here this long. This time last year, I had just finished the first draft of my first book Thicker Than Water after taking four months off work and was chock full of high hopes.
The book was with an independent editor and by the time my second month at my new job was complete the editor’s report had come back and the first word was: “Wow”. That gave me a huge boost – I wasn’t such a bad writer after all. There were edits to be done of course, but I was confident that by the time my six months at the charity was up, an agent and a publishing deal would be in the bag and I would be cashing in my first pay cheque as a writer.
However, the months have gone by and despite being agentless it has not been for the want of hustling. In the past year the book and I have done the following:
- One professional edit from The Literary Consultancy (Thank you Angela Clarke). Excellent advice on overwriting at the beginning and re-writes duly done
- Three competitions entered and not even a shortlisting
- Two agents met at Winchester Writers’ Festival. Lots of positive and exciting comments and feedback. Re-writes done as requested and one lovely rejection saying it was a ‘near miss’. Despite asking for a rewrite the other agent didn’t even bother replying to my re-submit. Grrr.
- Six other agents submitted to. Two rejections saying that they liked the story but didn’t like my writing enough. One standard no. Three no responses
If you had asked me this time last year what I would do if a year on there was no sign of an agent let along a publishing deal and my contract at the charity had turned into a permanent job, I would say that it was the universe telling me to put down the pen. However I am surprisingly reluctant to switch off the laptop and find something else to occupy my weekends like pottery or metal detecting. Why? I have no idea.
It might be that despite no agents so far agreeing with me, I really think my book is good. I have in fact been buoyed up by the quality of the rejections – is that odd? I feel there is life in the old book yet.
I have done more editing and re-writing and have found two more competitions to enter. I have also drawn up a spreadsheet of six more agents who I feel might like my book, so they are going to get an email from me in their submissions inbox in the next month or two.
I have come to see my manuscript as an asset. It cost me in both time and money to create it and whilst I didn’t go into this to get my money back, I feel it does have some value. I have the completed manuscript, several synopsis of varying lengths, the first three chapters, 50 pages, 3000 words all edited for maximum impact and I shouldn’t just abandon all that yet. After such an investment I would be silly not to capitalise upon my asset – what do I have to lose?