When rejection leads to improvement

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As promised, Harlequin Mills & Boon did indeed send me some feedback today on that potential first chapter and synopsis which I rather rushed in order to submit before the competition deadline last Thursday.

Their email is a reassuring mix of helpful tips where I have let myself down and positive praise – they like my ‘voice’ and say my style has potential.  They explained the difference between a synopsis and the blurb on the back of a book (which is what my synopsis looked more like).  Blurbs are what we read stood at WHS in the airport when we’ve thirty eight seconds to choose a book before that final call to the departure lounge.

Synopsis is more of a map illustrating the journeys the main characters take within the plot.  Importantly, and quite surprisingly, it should include an outline of the ending.   A potential publisher or agent need to know this even before they get into your whole manuscript.  I suppose this is what is meant by the arc of a book’s journey.  The hook in the opening chapter …. the map listing all the important junctions where characters make decisions … through to the conclusion.   You’ll not find that on the back of a book and now I more fully understand the anxieties of writers who struggle when writing their synopsis.

The ‘covering letter’ is the ‘pitch’.  That one chance to shine above all the other submission letters on that agent/publisher’s desk.  There is obviously an art to this too; as there was no feedback on that :-s

However, I am excited that they gave me two links.  One leading to great advice about synopsis writing, and I have printed the contents for some bedtime reading and a second  inviting me to submit a ‘new project’ as Radhanagari Damsel (in its slightly altered attire for M&B) was not quite right for this particular series – True Love – of Mills & Boon.

M&B do work to formulas, and these obviously pay off for their loyal readers and the authors within each series.  Their website is quite worth a wonder round if you write romance as they are alway looking for new authors.  This is not to say my submitted chapter one would not be accepted by contemporary womens’ fiction publishers elsewhere.  I shall keep and develop it further when I’ve more time, putting back the thriller element, which I took out for the competition.   I mean, JK Rowling was rejected plenty of times before someone took a punt on her!

My main WIP as you may recall is presently one aimed at the RNA’s New Writers Scheme (NWS).  This is the Romantic Novelists Association‘s annual initiative to also find and assist new writers, and I am one of 300 lucky people on this year’s scheme, aiming to submit as many words as I can by August (yeah, and how many did you write this morning? All of 379).  They recommend between 80,000 and 120,000 for a decent novel, but one huge piece of memorable advice I brought back from that meeting in London a few days ago was keep typing and ‘Submit a ‘partial’ if you’ve not been able to complete it in time.  Don’t waste the opportunity for a read and feedback’.  And that snippet of anxiety-reducing information was given to me by a longterm member of the RNA, a multi-published author in her own right; OMG, I can’t believe I didn’t curtsy, and turned out one of the readers on the NWS!  If you are new to me and didn’t see my post about that enlightening meeting, find it here.

So, a good day in the office I feel.  My perception of my life right now Ben? Mike? is a positive glass-half-full type of vibe.

Have a free istock photo of Tuscany to get you in the mood … Lucy is about to meet a man who is going to disagree with her contemporary plans for the vineyard; he’s run it perfectly satisfactorily for the previous forty years thank you very much.

PS  I’ve just had a genius idea – you know how I like my mini goals?  What if I promise you that every single post from now on, I finish with my WIP wordcount so you can watch it grow, (or not as the case may be).   Absolute genius; you’ll be like a virtual homework marker now .. and there you were thinking you could get away with merely reading my waffle, rather than having to take note of numbers!

Wordcount: 21,956