Wednesday, April 18, 2007

'Never tell me the odds.'

It's crossed my mind that most people wouldn't have a clue about how high the odds are against an unpublished author getting into print. I thought that, in order to put my trials into context, I'd describe just how tough it is...

Once an author has completed his or her novel ( in itself a major achievement ) the submission process begins. This initially involves sending to a literary agency a synopsis and three sample chapters of the work. If the agent likes the submission, then they will ask to see the whole novel.

There are perhaps eighty or so reputable agents listed in The Writer's Handbook. Each receives anywhere between one hundred and two hundred submissions a week from prospective new clients. So that's an average ( mean ) total of 7,500 submissions per year per agent. I have it on good authority from one of those London agents that they will request a full manuscript about once a week. So let's call that fifty full manuscripts per year, out of a total 7,500. Of those fifty, the agent may choose to represent perhaps one or two authors as new clients per year....

So, it isn't easy to stand out from the crowd enough to earn representation from a good agent. The fact that I've had the full manuscript of my novel read by two major agencies bodes well, but of course in the long-run it was also rejected by those agencies. I'm close, I'm sure, but only time will tell if the novel is good enough to reach publication - once an agent represents the work, they then have to sell it to a publishing house, and then the competition is in terms of quality rather than quantity...

Monday, April 16, 2007

Foiled again!

Well, once again the full manuscript of my novel was returned from a London Agency. This time, however, there were no helpful editorial notes - not even a brief line or two saying why the work was rejected.

At this stage, I'm not too concerned about being rejected. For those of you who don't know, an initial submission to an agent consists of a covering letter, short synopsis ( 4 pages in my case ) and the first three chapters of the novel. The letter should grab the agent's attention, the synopsis should interest them in the story, and the chapters show them whether or not the author can actually write ( somewhat essential in this game ).

So, I know that both of the agents who have requested a full mansuscript so far like the story and like my writing. Therefore, something in the full manuscript must be letting the story down. Having spent the last month and a half reviewing the work, I think I know what that might be, and have begun adjusting the novel to account for some changes that will hopefully rectify the problem. In addition, I have recruited two great-mates ( Pete Dev and Mattior ) to read the novel and let me know if there's anything within that spoils the show and makes an agent say 'no' instead of 'Yes!' They have to believe that they can sell the work to a publisher, and do so without trawling through months of editorial work....

In the mean-time, submissions are going out to eight agencies, in the hopes that one or two might be interested in reading further. It's a shame only in the sense that so much time is spent waiting ( three months per agent on average, from submission to final decision ). Still, I have the sense that I'm close - two hits from major agencies in a row isn't bad going me thinks....

Monday, February 05, 2007

Traumas and Triumphs.

Well, they said no. After a three month wait, the agency decided that the manuscript was 'not yet ready' for the market. This happened just before Christmas, so, Yo-Ho-Ho and thanks very much.
In all fairness, they did present me with a long editorial list of suggested changes that they felt would improve the manuscript and address the issues they felt would prevent its successful sale to a publishing house.
Soooo - I've made the changes. I sent out new submissions to four major London literary agencies, and lo-and-behold this Saturday a letter dropped onto my door-mat from one of them. I took one look at it, lying there, and thought;
"Ah, there's the rejection I've been waiting for..."
However, upon opening and reading the enclosed letter, joyous was I to discover that, once again, a major agency was interested in reviewing the full manuscript!!
So, here we go again....