So, with the help of my editor (a.k.a. The Countess) and the interweb, I’ve knocked my novel into shape. Having re-christened it Infernal Prey, I have committed to getting it to market by hook or by crook. You see, I’ve invested so much of my writing life into it, that I can’t see past Infernal Prey to start any new projects until I’ve given it a last tearful hug and sent it out into the world. On the advice of the Countess, I referred to The Writers and Artists Yearbook. A wonderful publication, the Yearbook provides a pretty comprehensive listing of literary agents, publishing houses, broadcasters, periodicals, associations, literary prizes and other players in the industry, as well as guidance on navigating the publishing world, understanding legal issues, the editorial process and so on. There is plenty of inspiration there too in the form of articles written by leading well-known writers. It is focused on the United Kingdom to be fair, but not exclusively so. It is to be recommended as trusty guide to writing as a profession (and the website is pretty good too).
I digested a fair bit of the Yearbook before assembling a list of literary agents who dealt with my kind of genre fiction. Armed with some of the Yearbook’s useful guidance, I crafted my submission packages: brief covering letter, synopsis and novel extract. Many agencies do not accept online or email submissions, so this meant lots of printing and postage. It is important to check the agents’ websites (if they have them) so you can be absolutely certain you craft your submission to meet their exact requirements. The Yearbook contains plenty of good advice on how to craft your covering letter and put the package together.
The agents all came back to me very promptly and fairly politely… with their rejection letters. This was not unexpected. I knew that many highly successful writers had collected filing cabinets full of rejection slips before hitting the jackpot, so I was surprisingly unperturbed and can honestly say I did not take it personally. Some of the agents were not taking submissions at all (which I had established from their websites first, fortunately); as one-man bands, many have to know when to shut their doors so their can give due attention to the submissions they already have. Annoyingly, one agency which was right up my street closed to new submissions on the very day I was ready to press “send”.
There were a few suitable publishers who would also accept unsolicited manuscripts (most don’t), but I didn’t hear anything back from them at all.
I can’t give you any insight on dealing with rejection; as I said, I was phlegmatic. All I can say is that it is such a universal experience for most writers that a thick hide and dogged determination are essential qualities. But of course these days there is another option open to those of us who aren’t “discovered” by the publishing establishment…
To be continued.