Thursday, 25 September 2008

publish and be damned!

I went on a bit of a roller coaster ride this week over YouWriteOn’s Free POD offer. For anyone who hasn’t seen it, they are offering to publish the first 5000 completed manuscripts free. Not surprisingly it has stirred up a lot of interest among we slushpile inhabitants. It gave me a rush for just long enough to email them my details and tell my family to expect my published book as a Christmas present this year.

But slowly reality has crept in to replace the euphoria. It appears there will be no editing. Whatever is submitted will be published.

OK. I’ve just sent out three chapters of my manuscript to my first round of agents, so I’m reasonably confident it’s properly proofread and in a fit state for human consumption. BUT – and this is big but, hence the capitals – I have never published a book before so I must bow to the greater experience an agent and editor could bring to my efforts. If you ask me whether my manuscript is in perfectly publishable condition as it stands, I couldn’t say yes. I just don’t know.

And with a flood of 5000 unedited books coming out for Christmas, how can I be sure the product will do me and my writing justice?

So my feet have by now gone completely freezing on the whole thing.


(another big but – lots of them about!)

A glimmer of good news came in the post the following day. One of said agents sent me a very encouraging personal letter, declining the manuscript as it stands, but offering to discuss it further if I have no luck finding anyone else and am willing to make some changes to the narrative. So, that’s not bad, is it? I might not have published books to give my family this Christmas, but maybe next year…?

Friday, 19 September 2008

the first of many

Today is a momentous day. I got my first rejection slip for "The Bookseller". Oh, well.

But you know what's weird? I thought I'd prepared myself thoroughly for this. I've been lurking around writers' websites, reading writers' magazines and watching author interviews for long enough to hear all the horror stories about bedrooms decorated with rejection notes. JK Rowling hawked Harry Potter round all the slush piles before she got a sniff. I've seen the long discussions about agents being snowed under with submissions and how 99% of the time don't even have time let alone inclination to look at yours. It's nothing personal. I've read (and even dished out) the sound advice to ignore it and try, try again.

But it still stings, just the same.

It makes no logical sense. Never in a million years would my manuscript be accepted at the first try. I'd have better odds doing the lottery. So, knowing that, I'm a little surprised at my own reaction. Part of me must have hoped, against all the odds...

So for about half an hour I've gone through the usual "Why am I doing this, I clearly have no talent and don't stand a chance, it's just a waste of time and effort..."

But the good news is, it does pass. I'm nothing if not an optimist. So what if I get to redecorate my bedroom with rejection slips? It needed decorating anyway. :-)

Friday, 12 September 2008

It's sent!!!!!

Why do I feel light as a feather today?

Answer: Yesterday my first batch of submissions went off in the post. I know it won't last long, but I feel quite elated about it. The first step has been taken.

I've done little else this week and it's time consuming. Now I must get back to doing some real writing...

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Anything but writing...

OK, I admit it. I'm lurking on here to avoid the task I've set myself this week: writing my synopsis. The first attempt lies before me as I type this and I'm trying to avoid looking at it. What a coward, I hear you cry. And you're right.

The trouble is, there's so much riding on it. As a marketing tool, the synopsis is your possibly one chance to get an editor's attention. Never mind those 85k words of carefully crafted plot, poetic description and fascinating insight. If you can't grab 'em with this potted version you can forget it.

So here I am trying to shoe-horn in every detail I can, trying to remember all the important bits and not leave out anything that might help sell it. So far I've managed to avoid the temptation to write "And then ... " at the start of every sentence, which is encouraging. But some of the sentences end up very convoluted: Kevin discovers his life-long friend, Barnaby, whose dog had swallowed the ransom note, is having a clandestine affair with Ruby, his housekeeper and the blackmailer of Jonathan, his flat-mate.

Keeping it in present tense isn't as easy as it sounds. Old habits die hard. And there is a lot of conflicting advice around. Double-spaced or not? One page long or six? Don't ask.

But I must press on and get these submissions out this week, if only so I can forget it and get on with some writing.

I can feel one of my heads coming on...

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

RIP Honey 1996-2008

Some sad news. My eleven year old cavalier king charles spaniel bitch, Honey (that's her in the picture), took ill last week and had to be put to sleep yesterday. At nearly twelve she had a good run for her breed and never suffered one day of illness in that time. She was very peaceful at the end and resigned to leaving. In fact I think she was glad to go.
Now I'm walking around in a daze. This morning I spent five minutes sobbing my heart out in the car when sad music came on the radio. She was only a little dog and in recent years spent most of her day snoozing, but the house suddenly seems very empty without her. I keep forgetting she won't need a walk or a biscuit or a brush, but I suppose I'll get used to it in time.
She's left an ache in me. I know it shouldn't come as a surprise, but it does. It's the end of an era. She was around for a lot of my sons' childhood, and through every up and down was my constant companion.
I will miss you, dear friend, but you are forever in my heart.