Now I know it’s weird to launch a whole new blog with this post title, but bear with me.
As you’ll see from the What’s All This? page, this blog is about the pursuit of publication; and in a sense, that does make it the start. Because I am most certainly not published. I’ve been trying to be – really, really trying – for quite a long time, but we’ll get to that in a second. What I want to make clear from the outset is that this blog is not about ‘How To Get Published’. Whilst you might find advice I have found useful, my experience of what helps and what doesn’t, and other personal pointers, I – once again – have not been published. So in terms of passing on the secrets to success, I’d be about as useful as a kid with an Outer Space textbook at NASA.
Plus, there are dozens of blogs, books and websites out there dedicated to telling you how to get published; often written by agents and publishers themselves. There are, in fact, almost as many ‘How To Get Published’ blogs as there are success stories of such-and-such an author who got X number of rejections, but eventually found fame, fortune, critical acclaim and a damn big yacht. And as reassuring as it is to be told (often) by supportive friends and family that even JK Rowling got rejected, I’m pretty sure that was only about seven or eight times (and when it comes to JK Rowling, I’m usually pretty sure…). This loses its comforting edge once you’re accidentally smudging your forty-second rejection letter with tears and commiseration chocolate.
What there don’t seem to be as many blogs for are live accounts of publishing failures, desperately trying to get their stories actually read. So here I am – she says, puffing up her chest, hands on hips superhero-style – failing for your reading pleasure.
But seriously, I know there are so many people out there in the same situation as me (partly as I keep losing competitions to them), and I like to think this blog can be the voice of a kind of community support network for those people, as well as being something positive for me to focus on. In the same way that a bad experience makes a good story, I’m hoping that keeping a blog might transform a particularly stinging rejection into a hilarious post we can all enjoy. Ahem.
Which brings me (sort of) to myself. I’m pretty young to be this bitter (oh you sensed that?) at 23, but I’ve been writing since I was about 12, and chasing publication since I was 15. That first book was, in retrospect, bloody awful. But I was young enough to catch the eye of an agent who asked to meet me, and bought me a very tasty muffin whilst politely explaining that my book was terrible, but I should keep writing as I had some potential. Weirdly pleased to find myself back at square one, I trotted home and wrote another, better – but not what we’ll call Carnegie prize winning – novel, and duly sent that off. One agent asked to see the full manuscript and I went mad with excitement before never hearing from them again. I then took a temporary break from being rejected to go to university and spend as much time as I could (read: between the drinking and sleeping) studying creative writing, before writing, re-writing and re-writing again my third – current – novel. The jury is currently out on this one’s level of terrible.
I’ve sent the new book off to a couple of agents and a few competitions, and with the exception of being longlisted for the Mslexia Children’s Novel Competition (please see: mad with excitement), I’ve mostly just accumulated lots of red ‘R’s in my Submissions Spreadsheet. Yes, I actually have one of those.
But with a new year come ridiculous new resolutions, so my aim and intention for 2017 is to send one submission every weekday until I get published…or run out of agents. And you, lucky reader, get to WATCH IT HAPPEN. Ooh, the thrills.
Submissions Last Week
5 agencies at the alphabetical top of my ‘top choices’ list.
REJECTION TALLY: 0 (It’s actually 6 if you count last year, but NEW YEAR NEW START OKAY)