So, you've written your novel - Now What?
I have been doing nothing but editing my novel and submitting it to agents recently.
No one tells you about how lengthy this process is.
So, I'd finally written that novel I'd always wanted to write - I'd sent it off to some very lovely beta readers who were kind but constructive.
But then, I realised I had some serious editing to do before I could let other humans - particularly agents, take a look at it.
This process of editing has been going on for about a year.
I was finally happy-ish (are you ever completely happy with a piece of writing?) with the first half of the novel, so to have a break from editing, I started submitting.
This is another thing that is fraught with differences.
Generally, you're asked for a cover letter within your email with a brief pitch, plus a bit about yourself. Then attached - a one page synopsis and the first three chapters of your novel.
However, sometimes you need to check which agent best suits your novel, so you have to read the multitude of agent blurbs. These vary from very specific to astoundingly vague.
But not always, sometimes you just have a general email address.
Sometimes, they want your cover letter to just be a pitch with no bio about yourself. Other times, this is the other way around.
Sometimes, your synopsis needs to be longer, or shorter.
Sometimes, they will ask for a specific number of words from you - this has varied from 1,200 - 50,000 with pretty much all other variances between.
Mostly they ask for everything to be double or 1.5 spaced with font at 12 in either Ariel or Times New Roman. Occasionally even that has been different.
As a writer, I think of myself as a fairly creative person - this process can suck the creative juices dry.
You may feel like giving up at this point - please don't. Think about all the work you've done.
This is when you need to be persistent, stubborn and rootle (I know this isn't a word, but I like it, so I'm keeping it) down to the very core of you, to ensure you don't give up.
I put on my old manager head to deal with it (so my creative one doesn't have a meltdown - she's a bit of a diva!). I know how to time manage, how to put together a useful Excel spreadsheet with timelines etc. This helps to keep a record of everything I have done, who I have heard from, who I am expecting to hear from and when that is likely to be.
If you're not an Excel geek like me - a list in a notebook is just as good.
I mean, chances are, after all this palaver not a single soul will be interested in my novel, even though deep down I think it's actually quite good and people might enjoy reading it. It's not for everybody but no one likes everything. I mean some people don't even like Harry Potter!
So, what do you do then?
You brush off all the rejection and boy there is a lot of that in this business- these are your little creative babies that they have rejected, how very dare they! - After a little cry - You think, well what next? Do I just file it away, never to be seen again?
NO. Don't be daft, not after all that hard work.
You self-publish and promote, because there are always the ones that got away that later become a huge success.
Which is why my pal Ruth and I are starting our own little hybrid publishing company - which you can check out here.
Then you enter your little self-published book in every single self-publishing competition you can find, people start to talk about your novel, it builds momentum and then... BIDDING WAR!!!
OK, a girl can dream.
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