Adventures in Writing … a look at how agents reject and why

It’s hard writing sometimes.

I don’t mean the process. I write virtually all the time. I have lots of ideas, and I’ve written over 36 full novels in my time and have two – possibly three – ear-marked for publication this coming year (2014). I have only just submitted a dystopian fantasy of 106,000 words, together with a contemporary thriller. So, I’m not giving up. No, it’s the knocks, the negative comments and the endless waiting which get me down.

I understand why so many struggling authors turn to self-publishing. I recently watched a series of short videos on YouTube by the agent Piers Blofeld. Take a look yourself and you’ll see, if you didn’t already know the reasons, why so many go down the do-it-yourself route. The process of rejection is ruthless.

You have to grab the agent’s attention from the very first word or sentence. This is what is known as ‘the pitch’, and it is fraught with dangers. Please, watch the videos. You’ll see.

And it is demoralising, there is no getting away from that. Mr Blofeld is not a nasty individual, nor is he arrogant; in fact, he comes across as quite amusing and likeable, but the way he goes through his ‘slush-pile’ is breath taking. His reasons for rejecting a range of manuscripts are at once illuminating and terrifying.

So. Rather than rushing off to ‘Bookbaby’ or Kindle, my decision is to look long and hard at my query letter. I have to hook any prospective publisher or agent, sell them my proposal, get them to read those first three chapters. That first hurdle, the query letter, has to be the best I can do.

I’m not giving up. I’m a writer, and I’m published, but I want to break through into the mainstream. Amazon are introducing a new service, but I’m very wary of it. As far as I can see, it’s another cynical way of making more money for them. No wonder the French, the great champions of bookshops and traditional publishing, is putting limits on what Amazon can do in their country. And with all the machinery grinding away around Kindle, the get-rich-quick brigade selling the idea anyone can be a success, I’m also distancing myself more and more from it.

‘Varangian’, my most successful book to date, has received glowing reviews. I am so humbled by them. But, I also receive personal criticism, insults, dismissive remarks about what I try to do. Sometimes those remarks hurt, of course they do, but, do you know what, in the end they empower me to continue doing the best I can. To read more, to learn from those writers who have made it. Authors like John Harvey, Michael Jecks and Henning Mankell.  They, for me, teach so much more than any ‘How to Write a Best Seller’ book, available on Kindle for only 99 cents, ever can.  

I’m here for the long haul, despite the setbacks, and I’ll keep submitting to traditional publishers for as long as I’m able to and hope for the publishing deal I dream about. Until that day dawns, I’ll go with the Indies, the great champions of all of us who struggle to put our words out into the world. But, like I say, it’s hard, often lonely, and sometimes disappointing, but I wouldn’t want to do anything else.

You can learn a little more about what I do by visiting my website where you will find links to my books :

Thanks for dropping by, and keep reading. You know it makes sense!





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