Writing a book part 43 - submissions


The end? Or just the beginning … ?

I have finished my book. 43 months after starting this series, I have managed to stick to the schedule I made several months ago, and I finished re-writing the third part of the book in the last week of March. I then printed out the entire manuscript (as pictured) and went through it one more time, making significant changes to the opening of the prologue in particular, which I was never happy with.

Within a week, I had read, noted and then transcribed my corrections. By this stage, the edits I was making were mostly so minor that I doubt they made much of an improvement: I was ready. What I know of the publication process means that it’s likely that any book would need further revisions if it gets taken on by an agent - but for submission purposes, the manuscript was finished.

Over the next week or so, I then worked on my submission letter, my synopsis and ensured the first fifty pages were absolutely mistake-free. The last thing was the easiest to achieve, by reading the text out loud (and I found several errors - it’s surprising how much it is possible to miss when reading to ourselves). The synopsis was surprisingly enjoyable to write, because it reassured me that the plot and pacing hangs together. It’s a vital document, because it tells agents that your novel something that makes sense.

The covering letter was harder to get right, since that is the first point of contact with agents, and it needs to sell the novel as concisely as possible, as well as giving my own background and explaining why I am submitting to the agent in question. However, thanks to the ‘how to get published’ course I attended, as well as other online resources, I was able to put something together that I felt confident fulfilled the requirements.

Next, I long-listed agents by going through the Writer’s & Artist’s Yearbook. This produced 64 agencies who looked like they would be open to the sort of book I’ve written. By checking agency websites, I was then able to narrow this down to a short-list of 13 agents. Going through all these options was time-consuming, but the selection itself was easy - it became obvious which agents would likely be the most receptive.

Everything was in place - so on Friday 12 April, I submitted my manuscript to all 13 agents. Their response times range between four and 12 weeks, so the only thing left to do is wait. Statistically speaking, the odds are against every submission a writer makes - agents get sent dozens of pitches every week, but can only take on a few new clients each year. The best quality submissions should stand out, you’d hope - but sometimes that’s not enough. To a certain extent, timing and fortune need to be on your side.

Even so, it was with absolute shock and excitement that I received an email earlier today from an agent requesting my full manuscript. I am now telling myself that doesn’t necessarily mean an offer will be forthcoming - but it feels pretty good that the first response I got wasn’t a rejection, at least!

Either way, the nearly four years that I’ve been writing this series might finally be nearing a close. But I’ve already got an idea for a second novel …