When I first started blogging, the aim was to record my writing ‘journey’ and the experience of being a mature student on an MLitt course. A lot has happened since 2011, and back then there was no shortage of topics to explore when guest speakers visited the uni, attending workshops and book events, and all the ups and downs of having two books published.
But I haven’t blogged regularly for quite some time. Mainly because the ‘firsts’ such as the excitement of my debut novel being launched are behind me. Also, the act of writing is a solitary one and it takes a long time (in my case) to write a book so there’s not much to say in between typing ‘Chapter One’ and ‘The End’.
For my latest novel, Sisters in Solidarity, it’s been an even longer process as it included a research trip to Russia (which definitely merited a blog post!). After having my manuscript critiqued, I’ve now completed a third full edit and in many ways I’m back to where I started all those years ago – seeking a literary agent…
Any writer will tell you that this isn’t easy. Literary agents receive thousands of submissions a year and sometimes I feel as if there are more writers out there than readers! The job of finding an agent involves scouring the internet, reading their submission guidelines and then preparing the material requested.
It can feel as if every agent wants a different submission package. Some want a 10k word sample, others want the opening three chapters or 50 pages. Some ask you to write a one line ‘elevator pitch’, a back cover blurb or a three-line synopsis. The variations can mean that it’s not a case of ‘one size fits all’ and requires a lot of time and effort. This is especially true when you’re asked to select the agent you’re submitting to which can mean you have to read a dozen biographies before you try and guess which one will be the right match for your writing. It can seem as if you have as much chance of winning the lottery!
Then you sit back and wait. And wait and wait and wait. Most agencies aim to respond, within 8-12 weeks IF they’re interested in reading the full manuscript. I started the process a couple of weeks ago and submitted to an agency on a Friday and received a standard form rejection on the Monday. Another has got back to me with the feedback that my novel sounds “too niche” for them. That’s the harsh reminder that literary taste is highly subjective. One person’s “too niche” might be another’s “exactly what I’m looking for”.
Of course, a poorly written novel won’t stand a chance of being snapped up, but even a well written novel has to rely on luck. Will it arrive in the right agent’s inbox at the right time? All I can do is hope someone out there is interested in my manuscript and all my time and effort pays off. Wish me luck!