Welcome to another Writers' Tuesday and our regular column by Emily Tootsweet about life on the hunt for publication. I do hope you enjoy, and if you have any questions or thoughts then please do leave a comment!
That ‘Certain Something Special’
Over the past few days I’ve been thinking a lot about my first novel. From where I’m sitting now I can see the black A5 folder holding the first printed out rough draft. It’s gathering dust on my bookcase, probably never to see the light of day again. Of course it’s not the FINAL draft – that draft hasn’t been printed out. Yet. I’m waiting for that magical phone call from an agent who has fallen in love with the first three chapters and the synopsis that I’ve sent them and wants to read the full thing.
But back to that black A5 folder. I was so proud to have finished that very rough first draft. At that point I had no desire to send it out to agents – I was just pleased to have written a novel – all 85,000 words of it. I gave it a few colleagues at work to read, unaware that it was full of spelling mistakes, grammar problems and as many holes in the plot as a badly knitted jumper. But despite all that, I got positive feedback. And that gave me the ‘oomph’ to take the next step. To tidy up the novel and submit it to agents. I suddenly wanted to be published. Badly.
But it’s not that easy. I found out some horrible, scary things from other writers that I knew. At the time, it never occurred to me that the chick lit genre is saturated with writers. Nor did it occur to me that agents might not be looking for new writers – they’re just concentrating on the writers they already represent. It didn’t occur to me that you needed to have that certain something special to get chosen by an agent – unless you were the new Sophie Kinsella with that certain something special – you had no chance whatsoever of getting an agent. Fantastic, huh?
Hearing all that, coupled with four rather horrendous rejection letters I got from agents, made me feel like a pile of poo. And I haven’t subbed my first novel again – that was three years ago. I’ve even considered quitting from time to time. Why bother when there’s no chance of ever getting an agent and ultimately, published?! But I remember that first draft and that feeling of achievement I had when I finished it. I had no desire to get published back then – writing for me was about fun. I had to remind myself that writing is enjoyable, getting an agent is a great bonus.
Maybe my first novel isn’t the one that has that certain something special but my second, third or fourth novels might. So I don’t stop. I won’t ever stop. I’ll keep trying until I do have that certain something special. You only need one agent to ‘get’ your writing, to understand what you’re trying to say in your novel. And I’m still looking for that agent, or at least I will be as soon as I start subbing again. It’s just all about self-confidence and pushing yourself to forget the rejections. I know writers who have subbed countless times before getting snapped up. I only subbed my first novel four times, there’s still a possibility with it. So I think the time has come to start subbing again… Should I? Shouldn’t I? What do you think?
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