Posts Tagged ‘agents’

This week an agency response got me thinking about my writing future.

The agent has decided not to take fiction submissions any more. She was very kind and apologetic but she explained that, due to the difficulties in the fiction market at the moment, she was concentrating on non fiction works.

After mulling it over for a couple of days I responded very politely and with a couple of questions. Long story short, she gave me the name of another agent today, who I contacted this evening.

But the exchange left me with the distinct impression that now is a bad time to enter the market, at least via traditional routes.  Typical of my timing, really…

From an agent’s point of view, it seems there is a risk in taking on new authors; from a publisher’s point of view the more reliable sales are known names; the book-buying public would rather get an e-book for 30p than a paperback for £7.99.

All these things make sense, because of the financial position we are in.  But books still sell, and writers are still making a living from what they do.  So what do the bestsellers have going for them?

Well, look at this list of the bestselling books in the UK for last week.  Bridget Jones is on twice for some reason (which I will ignore), and is the continuation of a popular series.  Michael Connelly’s book is also the continuation of a series.  There are three autobiographies appealing to different groups of fans – music, sport, television. David Walliams is a very well-known TV name in the UK; he has written 6 books for children, and already had one televised (in which he also played a character), with another coming along.  Josephine Cox has written a number of books, over at least a decade.  Liane Moriaty has been published since 2004.

None of these people are starting from scratch – they are either established writers, or well-known celebrities.  The second group will always find it easier to get an agent and to get published than the ‘average’ writer – they have less hoops to jump through.

With both groups the marketing has expanded over a period of years; no new writer can hope to achieve that level of goodwill straight away.

You could argue that there are new writers doing extremely well – EL James for example.  Remember that her work was on the back of the Twilight series, which in itself gave her a head start.

There’s no easy way into the market.  E-books are an option for the frustrated writer, but being seen in a sea of books is hard. Besides, there are still many e-books that are released when they are not quite ready for publication, which has a negative impact on the perception of some self-published work.  Prejudices may change – but not quickly.

All you can do is persist.  Keep sending your work to agents, keep trying to get it seen.  Keep trying to make it the best it can be so if you do opt for self publishing its quality will stand out.  Don’t take rejection personally, and raise your profile so that an agent will see your commitment and joy in writing.   Keep working for it and thinking positively and who knows, one day you could get the ‘yes’ you desire.

There is a problem with publishing now, but that doesn’t mean you should give up on your dreams.  You just need to work a little harder to get there.

Good luck



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I knew it would happen one day – I forgot completely that it was Sunday and just as Midnight came and Monday rolled in, I realised I should have written a blog post for you.

So I did what any self-respecting writer would do, and I scrabbled around trying to make 400 words out of thin air.  And I give you – the week that was…

  • I did some editing of the novel (hurrah!) and some more poetry (yee ha!)
  • I went to open mike night (cool!) and got an agency rejection (boo!)
  • I missed the start of my new course (hmm!) and got some boring paperwork done (phew!)

There was lots more to it, of course – but these were the writing-related things that I can remember.

Editing was fine, although I haven’t looked at the manuscript for longer than I thought so it was a bit hard to get back into the flow.  The poetry was and will be fine – I am comfortable with the idea that it’ll change over time and that’s quite exciting to me actually, to see changes in my life blend with my older poetry to give it a different tone.

I won’t say much about the open mike as I spoke about it on Thursday – except to say it was a good night out regardless of my own readings!

The agency rejection wasn’t upsetting – I have zoned out in a way, as there’s nothing I can do to change minds.  I do need to send the book out to another couple of agents this week though.  Meanwhile, the poetry gives me my own little lifestyle and I quite enjoy that.  As it’s not something I expect to publish, I am considering self-publishing a small pamphlet to sell at any performances; I’ve seen it done before and I think it’ll be a sensible thing to do for a small expenditure.  I’ll be setting up a separate blog for that too, eventually.

The course will be a loss if I don’t do it, as it’s about writing historical fiction; it’s a way back into my first NaNo piece or my book 4 (was 3) which is set in 1950s, I think…

And the paperwork was paperwork.  There’s not a lot more to say about it than that!

So there you go – a mixed bag of a week but the next one starts here!

In other news – My travels through the 100 best novels has reached number 4 – ‘Clarissa’.  So far I have read none of the books, but I do remember seeing this on TV in my youth: it must have affected me more than I realised as so much of the story came to mind when I saw this book on the list.  To be honest, I am extremely unlikely to read this one.  Better luck next time, I hope…

As it’s so very, very late I’ll leave it there for tonight – let me know if you’ve read the book though, I’ll be interested to know if my memory of the story is as accurate as I think.  Or, indeed, if it was a good adaptation.

Happy writing,



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As I trundle around on my holiday at home (a staycation, I believe it is called nowadays!) I am neglecting my writing.

I did meet up with a fellow writer – we discussed the concept of metaphor and the nature of reality, it was a really interesting way of working through some of my brewing ideas – and I have done some admin for the writing group, but other than that work has been very bitty.  A few lines of poetry here, an idea for a short piece of prose there: nothing to get particularly excited about.

I know it’s my holiday, but this seems a little unfortunate, especially knowing what’s coming up… A public reading!  For people willing to pay!  It’s a lunch thing, so people get food, music by my brilliant friend and poetry by me.  It’s all a bit nerve-wracking and quite honestly not something I’m eager to do, but it does push me to do some more work and to practice reading, which is something I neglect.  An open mike every few months is really not enough!

I really don’t feel ready, and it’s only 4 weeks away: I have to get on with some more poetry between now and then, and check the musical playlist so I can try to link the music choices with the poetry to make sure the tone of the lunch isn’t all over the place.

Before that, though, I have a charity zumba event, my friend’s business open day, a trip to see my sister and her family (and a carnival!), and a ghost tour of a medieval city.  Plenty of inspiration material there…!

One thing that has eased the pressure is that I am no longer doing a poem for a wedding – the couple decided just to have a single reading from the bible.  I may still write on the subject but it will be for my own pleasure; they have given me a new idea to write about as well as a more practical idea about the use of poetry, so although we never progressed, it has been a valuable experience.  I wish them all the best!

In other news – It’s now 11 weeks since I sent work off to the second agency; I will chase again next week if there’s no response.  In the meantime I think I ought to send off to another two or three – I don’t really want the book out with too many people at once but on the other hand, waiting around and doing nothing is hugely frustrating so I’m just going to have to do something!

Also – I saw this article about books people lie about reading.  I don’t see the point in that, really – so in the interest of openness, I’ll tell you what I’ve read from the list: 1984, Lord of the Rings, Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre.  I started Great Expectations but didn’t enjoy it and put it down after a few pages.  I read a lot less classic writing as an adult than I did in my youth – probably because we had to read classics for school!  1984 is worth a read, even if just to see how many things Orwell got right about the future!

And finally – As we’re on lists this week, I thought I’d share this one with you: the working/original titles of famous books.  Makes me wonder if ‘The Family Tree’ will become something else entirely one day…

Until next time, happy writing!



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Today’s post is shorter than normal as I hosted a dinner party tonight so I’m running late!

This week was quite bitty and unstructured, but I got a fair bit done.

I contacted the agency I haven’t yet heard from; they confirmed that all submissions get a response but it might take up to 10 weeks.  I’m glad I checked, but I’m also glad I submitted to other agencies.  If I wait 10 weeks every time, it could be 2016 before I get through my list!  I’ll keep an eye out for responses, of course, but will do new submissions every few weeks in the meantime.

It was also my second writing group this week.  The work from our writing to music exercise had gone really well, and everyone had done something original and different, despite all starting with the same piece of music.  We’re on to flash fiction for next time, and heading off to an open mike event in a few days. My piece ended up being nearly 1000 words, and I think will become a short story in time.  We’ll be presenting out progress on them in December (over Christmas drinks!) so I’ve got until then to decide.

I’ve been developing some new skills this week too – I’ve gone a bit vintage and am learning how to knit and crochet!  The crochet is for an event I am supporting in October, and the knitting is something my mum decided to teach me…  They are great for writing breaks; I can completely clear my mind of the story because I have to concentrate so much on what I’m doing.  They are also a timely reminder of the importance of weaving things together!  See – writing is everywhere if you look 🙂

Meanwhile the work continues; I didn’t get as much done as I’d planned this week so have to catch up over the next couple of days but progress is reasonably steady.  I’ve concentrated on book 2 this week for a number of personal reasons, and expect that’ll be the case for the next few weeks.

Due to my lack of time and general organisation, I’ve got no ‘in other news’ for today so I’ll find extra for next time!

There you go – a week in less than 400 words; not bad for me!

Happy writing,



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Thank you for your patience – normal services will now be resumed…!

Last Sunday I said I’d be spending this week working on new writing, novel 2 revisions, poetry, the piece for writing group and submissions to agents.  Well, the week didn’t turn out quite like that for a number of reasons, but I did do some work on the two novels and I have sent the family tree novel out to another couple of agents.

Let’s start with the agents as that’s the most important!  I found the submission process far easier this time round; not only because I did on-line submissions (much less stressful!) but also because I know now that I can manage my expectations better than I thought.  I have a plan if no-one picks up the book, but I also know I have a lot of people I can contact before I get to that point.  I still felt the familiar increase in heart rate, but it passed much more quickly.  So anyone who is worrying about doing it – it truly does get easier with time!

I now have to decide if I send it to a couple more or wait the 6-8 weeks for a response…  Not a bad position to be in, really!

The revisions to book two have stepped up a pace – although when I describe what I’m doing it sounds like a step backwards!  Basically, I have re-written the bios with the new info I’m going to include: that means I’ve also written new biogs for the characters who are going to be substantially more important in the new story.  I’ve worked out the new structure too.  Now, I’ve started the book all over again, copying over the sections I want to keep and filling the gaps chronologically.  It sounds complicated and annoying but actually it’s working really well – I’ve retained what I really like and what works, and I’m making sure there are no gaps, irritations or anachronisms.  As I started writing the book up last November, I’m giving myself a deadline of 31 October to get it sorted, ready for a proper edit. What better time to finish off a book with supernatural elements (real or imagined) than Halloween?!

Book 3 has slowed down, and I think I need to go off the freewrite process and sort a complete plan out to keep it going now; I’m so happy where I’ve got to already, but I don’t want to make the same mistakes with that as I have with book 2.  I’ll carry on working on this alongside the revisions as it makes me happy to do new work at the same time as large scale editing – well, it stops me tearing my hair out, anyway!

However, there has been no poetry and no work on the piece for writing group.  I have less than 48 hours until writing group so I’ll get going on that piece next!

All in all, it’s been a reasonably satisfactory week.  Plus I got to go to a country fair, see parachutists, watch a wild bird display, and spend time with my lovely friends and family so not bad going at all!  And I might even have booked a public performance for poetry too – but more on that when I know more 🙂

In other news – as this post is so long, I’ll keep this brief!  If you have a look here, you’ll find details of a number of authors and their favourite words.  Some are funny, some are bonkers and some are beautiful.  Have a look and see if any inspire you.  My favourite word is rude so I won’t write it here, but of the list I rather like plop.  Onomatopoeias rule!

Happy writing



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Having said last week that I was planning to focus on the new idea, I am a little embarrassed to admit that I have been working on book two again.

I am flip-flopping between them because sometimes I just need a quick win, and working through the edits gave me that.

I enjoy starting a new story but this time it’s going fairly slowly, and in seven days I managed a paltry 1480  words.  I wanted to do more this week; the revisions for book two gave me the positive boost I needed.

Still, the new book is progressing, albeit slowly.  Because it is unplanned I am making a lot of notes about the decisions I make, and the impact they will have.  I am watching the story grow from the roots up.  It’s like making my very own ‘Fighting Fantasy’ book, turning the page to see what my decision means for my characters!

Of course, that’s only how I feel at the moment.  My view on progress next week remains to be seen!

Other than that, I am on tenterhooks because the second agent should be responding now.  I’m back to waiting, waiting, waiting and I’m not very good at it.  I checked and there’s nothing to say they won’t reply if they’re not interested, it just says there will be a reply; still, I have waited the allotted time and I can reasonably approach alternative agents now.

So this week will be split between novel-writing/revisions/poetry/writing group work/agents.  Well, that’s the plan today!

In other news – I read this article about the return of big books.  There’s no particular conclusion, but I don’t think it’s a new phenomenon anyway.  I’ve read ‘chick lit’ over 500 pages long, and fantasy books of 900 pages or more.  What bothers me is not page length but how long it takes to read.  These two don’t always seem related.

For example, book 2 of ‘The Lord of the Rings‘ trilogy took me 2 weeks, because I found it hard going and only read a little bit at a time.  ‘The Help‘ I read in a night because once I started I didn’t put it down (I was reading it for book club, and only got it the day before the meeting!).

Ultimately, a story should only be as long as required to tell the story.  If the publisher really wants a book to look fatter they can always use smaller pages and a bigger font 🙂

Also – I recently read this article  about the Victoria and Albert Museum buying an archive that belonged to Vivien Leigh.  Vivien Leigh fascinates me; her life was as complex as many of the characters she played, and when you see her perform you can see that complexity in her performances.  I planned to write a biographical piece about a public figure some time ago; with the release of this archive to the public, perhaps it is a sign I should write about her.

And finally – Sometimes, the amount of books an author can produce staggers me.  According to this article, there is a new agreement in place to posthumously publish 160 more Barbara Cartland novels.  In total, she wrote 823 books – an astonishing amount. I don’t believe I’ve ever read her books but I did inherit one when my grandma passed away.   She had published it under her married name, which I thought was interesting.  Maybe it’s time for me to read it; then I’ll only have 822 to go!

I don’t expect to publish that many novels – one would be enough for now…!

Happy writing,



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Wow – week 104.  I’ve blogged for two years now and I’m still finding random things to talk about every week 🙂  This blog started as a big challenge for me: I had never shared work or ideas or my writing process so openly before I started this, and it’s thanks to the kindness and support of you all that I’ve kept going.  I’m proud of how far I’ve come since week one; here’s hoping that the next year brings a completed book 2, at least one full draft of book three – and a literary agent and publishing deal!

I said last week that I had started a new story – I accept that it may be a mistake, but I’ve put everything else on hold to give this piece a chance to grow.

There are two reasons for this:

1. Book two is messy, quite honestly, and I’ve got to reconfigure it so I want to have a bit of time away from it before I commit to any more changes.

2. The new story feels important, as though I need to write it.  I know that sounds weird and a bit pretentious, but I’m not suggesting it will lead to world peace or anything like that; rather it’s that it’s important to my development as a writer.

Many writers have a theme running through their books – things like crime, or romance, or covert operations. My theme is relationships under pressure. Book one was about relationships in a family, book two is about friendship and love. This third story is about the main character’s relationship with herself.   It’s about her desire to control her life; the story explores what happens when that control disappears.

I’m really excited to see how it turns out; it’s flowing pretty well at the moment, and I can feel her emotions very strongly both when writing and when reading back.

So all the book 2 work is in stasis, and I will complete a full draft of the new story before I go back to my spooky suspense!

In other news – just one for this week because it’s something for you to do – and it may even be the basis of an inspiration post soon!  This article is all about ‘found poetry‘ which is something I have never really tried.   I love the idea of taking an article and breaking it into stanzas to form a poem.  A friend of mine has magnetic words on her fridge, and encourages people to make phrases with them; it’s a similar idea and some of the results have been fun.

I’ll aim to do a found poem for an inspiration post soon, but if you want to share any in the meantime, please feel free to post in the comments!

Until next time – happy writing,



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Wow, I can’t believe I’ve made it through to 100 weeks of posting!  Imagine fireworks, celebratory drinks and a marching band 😉

Since my first post I feel like I’ve changed a lot, both as a blogger and as a writer; I’ve achieved things I am really proud of and learnt from the rest…

Like how to take rejection.

I got back from my retreat at midnight yesterday, to be greeted with a returned manuscript and a thanks but no thanks letter.  But you know what?  I didn’t, and don’t, feel discouraged.  First thing this morning, I checked the website of the agent to see if I’d missed any clues: I had.  Nestled in amongst the named authors was a list of their main areas of focus.  From a fiction perspective their main focus is now general and historical fiction.

OK, I thought; my book is neither of these.

Don’t get me wrong – there are bound to be changes I can make for the better, and if I get 85% through my list of agents and still don’t get picked up I’ll really start to worry.  Today, though, I can accept that they have rejected the work as they have a tiny focus on my genre, and could have filled that quota already.  I do not feel the dreaded desolation that I was worried would affect me. If anything, I feel excited to look at the people on the agency list and see who to approach next!  Every rejection=a new opportunity to find the agent who believes in me!

Maybe I’m super-chilled from being away, but this seems like a healthy reaction so I’ll try to retain it!

And yes, the retreat was everything I wanted from a retreat.  It was a tiny flat on a smallholding; in the mornings we’d wander outside, soaking up the colours, the light, the sounds and the fresh air of the mountains.  We’d work – I got through the first four chapters (77 A4 pages) of book 2, and wrote a plan for filling the gaps left by the changes I want to make.  We’d enjoy the silence. We’d go for walks in the evening and watch the sunset change the sky.  We’d talk to the sheep, who rarely responded, and watch the horses gallop around, kicking dust into the air like the plumes of comets.  We ate honey from the bees on site.  It really was valuable.

So valuable, in fact, that we’ve agreed to continue some of out habits – and book a retreat every year!

In other news – I read this article today about JK Rowling writing under a pseudonym; it’s good to see that as an ‘unknown’ she was able to sell a reasonable number of books in hardback (although I suspect the number will dramatically increase now); it shows that people are still willing to try books out when they’ve never heard of the writer.

And finally – Sticking with Ms Rowling as a theme of the day, I saw this article on books that are never finished and it made me smile. I’m one of those who historically has read until the end even if I don’t like a story, although I have loosened up a little in recent years. It’s not just that life’s too short to read things you don’t enjoy (I got through book 2 of the Lord of the Rings book set and it took me 2 weeks; a book I enjoy will take me one evening normally!) but that as an individual you choose what you are prepared to confront. Boredom is a good tool for writers to learn from, but reading something you find unpleasant to read about is not, and I would say it’s unnecessary.

What I have learnt is not to re-read those books I find boring!

I’ll leave it there for today, as it’s nearly tomorrow – happy writing,



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As you know, I said I would have done some submissions by today.  Two, in fact.

I have to be honest and tell you I’m nearly there, but not quite. One has gone, and one is in the post for tomorrow. I’ll give myself 75% for that.  But I’ve aged about ten years in the process!

I still think of myself as a new writer, in that I’ve not been published, so I’m sure it’ll come as no surprise to others in the same boat that the hardest thing to do is share my work.  It’s easier now with poetry, because it’s mine and I’m not hoping or aiming to make a career from it.  But the novels are my career dream, and my goal is to be published.  That makes sending the book off a horribly difficult process for me.

It seems silly – the wannabe published writer who doesn’t want her book read – but all the time something is a dream, you still have hope.  Now is when I have to face the possibility of that hope being misplaced.

I know the stories of writers who couldn’t find an agent, who were rejected and became bestsellers – they are dotted about through the literary world.  But we don’t hear about the great book that didn’t get picked up or the writer who stopped sending it out.  We don’t hear the other side of that story because there’s no triumphant success.  If I were a betting woman, I’d say the safe bet’s always on the rejection letter.  I hope to beat the odds, and now I’m waiting for the cards to fall as they will.

So yes, this has been difficult.  For anyone else feeling the same worry about next steps all I can offer by way of comfort is that many (UK) agents seem to want e-mail or e-submissions now, and these at least are quick to do.  Waiting for my printer to churn out 44 pages that may define my future was much, much worse that a few copy, paste and clicks.

Now I just have to wait for up to six weeks and see what, if anything, comes back to me.  And dye my hair back from the white this week has caused 😉

In other news – Some while ago (so long ago, in fact, I can’t remember when!) I talked about the reworking of old novels by modern writers.  Well today I read that the same is being done for Shakespeare.  Yes, one of the most famous writers in history is being  updated for modern audiences.  I won’t judge the project before completion but I am surprised that it has been launched.  Shakespeare still forms a major part of the English curriculum here in the UK – I left school a while ago, but we did at least three Shakespeare plays between 14 and 18; his plays are never off the stage; we still use words and phrases of his creation.  It doesn’t really seem necessary to do anything to bring him to a modern audience!   In many respects it’ll be fascinating to see the outcomes…

Also – I have booked a retreat!  More on that next week, but we have gone for peace and space to write and paint, not sunshine and tutorials.  Although we may get sun if we’re lucky – it’s in the UK, so you really never know 🙂

I’ll leave it there for today as I really need to lie down!

Happy writing



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This week hasn’t been particularly productive, writing-wise; to be honest I don’t know where the time has gone!  But I’ve noticed something and I am going to have to tell you about it to force me to face up to it…

I am delaying sending my book off to agents.

It’s not a new story, is it?  As soon as I have to commit to the idea, to the external evaluation of my work, I freeze.  The story has been ready since mid-May, and the synopsis started and started and started – but never finished satisfactorily.  I can blame the broken computer, but that only gives me a week of credit.  I’ve chosen agents, changed my mind, and chosen again.  I now have two people who I absolutely want to approach in the first instance, and a whole host of names should they say thanks but no thanks (or just no!).  I have nothing holding me back.

Except me.  I am creating my own barrier, a wall between me and my dreams.  I have said before that this is nerve-wracking, that this is just the start of the journey, and that I have a long way to go before anything really happens.  I’ve also said before that before sending things off I get nervous – but once they’re gone that nervousness passes and I become quite fatalistic.  What will be, will be.

So why is this so much harder?  Is it because it’s my first book, and because I feel so strongly about it?  Is it because I’ll feel like a failure if no agent snaps it up?  Is it because I am worried that no-one will think I’m a ‘proper’ writer?

I don’t know.  All the above, probably.  But I do know that every day that passes is a day when another writer, with a voice or an idea similar to my own, might get their book out to agents.  That I need to feel the fear, and do it anyway!

So, through the power of this blog(!) I am going to make myself do it.  By 30 June, I will have sent the synopsis and first three chapters of the book out to two named agents, as required, and I will be here, next Sunday, telling you that I have done it.  I will find a way to break through that wall, and I will prove to myself that I have the confidence to try.

In other news – and on a similar subject, I found this article about how successful writers have experienced failure at various times in their lives, and what happened as a result.  It really resonated with me today as I grit my teeth and acknowledge my delaying tactics!

Happy writing,



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