I finally did it.
I’m not joking here. I’ve submitted my Italian/Edinburgh novel to five real London-based literary agents. Did you ever think I’d get this far? Well I didn’t.
You watched me type the thing, procrastinate and fiddle for months last year. You followed me when I attended the online Curtis Brown Creative courses during 2018 (from which a few scenes in the finished manuscript actually started life as pieces of homework during those courses!).
For months and months, I created and edited this novel. I thought about it when I was doing other things, debated about plot twists and small details like whether I’d added enough details to a scene. As many of my followers know, my membership of the wonderful RNA cemented my love of writing fiction and the encouragement I’ve received over the months from fellow members and newbie writers is the sole reason I’m now able to announce I’ve submitted.
I spent last week back in Devon, at Retreats For You and how fitting that while I was there, under the watchful eye of my mentor Alison May, I completed a final proof-read on paper, transferred the horrendous number of error corrections onto the laptop before finalising the content of five agent letters. (The first five on my very long list, because once the rejections come, I can then send it to the next one on the list until I have exhausted the entire listings in the author’s bible … 😃).
Being on the retreat, where I was fed three times a day and had nothing else to think about except my book, meant the opportunity to complete it was within my grasp. And I grabbed it with both hands.
I do type at home. I do plot, and read, and think about outlines and characters. But. I juggle the guilt too when I’m there and Man of the Woods is around wanting to talk about failing crops and flea beetle and rainfall. All marriages have their dynamics but I truly believe that spending most of every day with your spouse brings about some interesting discussions, especially when, in our case, MoW despises social media and all that it represents.
This was my bedroom at the retreat. I could have happily stayed longer and written the second book but that would be selfish 🤣
Back to the point.
One of the useful sessions during our week was when Alison confirmed that finishing a draft of a whole novel is a huge achievement. We hear this often from positive and supportive writing folk on social media – and let’s just take a moment to accept the accolade once again. That goal reached is HUGE 🎉
Assuming at this point we are thinking about traditional publishing, we start the long and arduous journey of seeking agent representation. It is incredibly rare that a debut novel catches the eye of an agent who will be bombarded with quality manuscripts every week. Hence the need to have a long list and a large dose of patience.
(Yes, I could be an Indie author but I just don’t have the confidence to put it out there! If agents don’t think it’s good, then I’m not sure I’d want that version available for public consumption. Trust me on this – it’s my self esteem we are dealing with, not yours 🤣🙈)
Let’s pretend then, at some point in the future, one of those agents is blown away by my prose and is so desperate to represent me, they call me to the capital for lunch and champagne. Ok, maybe not. A cup of tea at a table in their office, a custard cream and some home truths is more likely!
That agent will then have the very difficult task of ‘selling’ my novel to editors at a publishing house. They do this in all sorts of ways; casual chats at events, pitching meetings, personal knowledge of each other and possibly over expensive lunches!
Let’s also now pretend an editor agrees the novel is stunning. They, in turn, will attend an acquisition meeting, sat with the big Boss and the accounts dept (who decide how many books they can publish that month/quarter) and persuade the powers that be that they have the next ‘big thing’ and it’s worthy of their time over and above the other books being pitched around the table.
It’s not sounding too promising now is it 😂 but you know what I’ve decided?
Book 1 is/was my learning book. It always will have the honour of that label and I still love the characters, especially Antonio 🖤
There’s a long way to go; I’ve only just started. Yet what I’m proud of is completing the process to this point. I know now what it feels like, what shape the process takes.
And while I pause to enjoy a fabulous book by Rosie Walsh, I’m plotting Book 2 and doing lots of research this time before I type a word of it 🖌
Happy writing folks xxx