I had some short stories, poems and photographs to share ... and so here I am

Writing In The Dark

It's a very strange business this. It's now been a month since my novel was launched into the reading process at Macmillan New Writing. By all accounts, word should come through any day now about its fate (with MNW at least). This is a good reason for my loyal readers to come back for updates! There's nothing like suspense to build up a strong readership!

It has been a total of nine weeks now since I first contacted MNW about my manuscript, and no one else is getting a look in while I wait for a response. I've worked out that this is the system that agents and publishers like: send the book to one person or company at a time, so they have an exclusive option on the work.

I remember trying to ignite the interest of agents some years back, with the very first book I attempted (it has since gone into a bottom drawer for a rainy day), by sending it off to about 20 agents at once. One London agent who actually phoned me on the strength of what he had seen dropped me like a hot corn on the cob when I told him I had sent the work to lots of other agents as well - it didn't occur to me to be dishonest, as some people said I should've been. It seems I had committed a cardinal sin.

I understand the logic behind this "one approach at a time" policy, but can't help but feel that there must be a better way to manage the precious months that creep by. If I wait two or three months for every submission I make, I could be 98 before anything is published - imagine readings and publicity photos!

What I'm doing during this current waiting period is cracking on with my new project - a novel set in Dublin - and this blog is keeping my fingers busy as well. It's difficult though, like writing in the dark, not sure whether anything will ever see the light of day. It would be so much easier to push on with the chapters if I knew there was a whisky-glass chance of getting published.

As a way of preparing myself for the worst case scenario, I'm also weighing up where my next approach should be directed. My optimistic side says this is not good as I'm leaving room for the possibility that rejection is coming, and it goes against my philosophy that one has to visualise what one wants. Nevertheless, it is only natural that we should want to keep all our options open.

Someone has also asked me to consider posting an extract from the novel that is currently being looked at by MNW. Is that something that publishers worry about? Do they mind if extracts of books they may be interested in appear on the web? Yet another question for the writer who's splashing about in unchartered waters.

The waiting time also leaves room for anxious, tiresome thought. Should I have mentioned that I'm all geared up for a very cunning marketing plan for the book? Should I have mentioned that I would be prepared to chop off the epilogue? Would it have helped to mention that I can get some nice reviews by nice journalist friends? Should I have suggested several titles?

I decide, in the end, to turn this anxiety into something positive: to create a unique character for my new novel, in a situation where one might normally expect to come across somebody mightily dull.

5 comments:

pundy said...

Shameless, I know just how you must be feeling. I think you have to wait until you've had a response from Macmillan before you decide upon your future strategy for getting your novel published.

Hopefully, it won't be a problem.

B.A. Goodjohn said...

I'd be interested to know if having friends high up in the book reviewing world helps...goodness, I'd be interested in knowing if anything helps the process along - offering one's firstborn, silver rounds, naming the book after the agent's son...

Good luck.

Minx said...

When ringing an agency for the name of the submissions first-line-of-defence person, I now ask very politely as to their policy concerning multiple submissions. Some agencies state this on their web site or in The Artists and Writers Year Book.
I totally agree that is unfair to have to wait for one when, as in my case, they took nine months to reply, longer than it took to write the bloody thing in the first place!
I have also installed a mindset of 'out of computer, out of mind'forgetting that I ever wrote it and then leaving in the hands of the Gods!
And b.a, I would sell my body if it would help, although with these hips....

skint writer said...

I heard the other day that there have been at least 40,000 submissions for the MNW scheme. I was thinking of submitting the same novel several times with different titles. The reality is that just one reader's very subjective opinion will probably trash your book after the first few pages.

So there's no point hanging about - get it off to as many agents and publishers as you want.

Nice blog btw.

Shameless said...

All good advice .... cheers. Hello to b.a Goodjohn (bunny? from writing neuroses piece?), and hello to skint writer, which seems to be a new blog. welcome along for the ride!