A Re-Evaluation of Tactics

Oh dear guys: it’s not going super well, is it? I have now crossed the 25 Rejection marker, and had a long-awaited rejection from the third agency to have requested my full manuscript last week. The fact that my full manuscript has been under consideration at one agency or another for the last couple of months has had a few effects:

  1. I haven’t been sending as many submissions off, so the ‘awaiting response’ column of my spreadsheet is looking depressingly weedy.
  2. The landslide of ‘well they’ve ignored me for three solid months now, so that’s probs a no’ rejections all landed in the last few weeks.
  3. I’ve now had rejections/ignortions (work with me) from pretty much all of my green list agents.

I’m also not holding out an awful lot of hope for any of my more recent submissions, as all of the full MS requests I have received arrived within a week of my initial email. Obviously this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, but the past few months do seem to have taught me that the longer you wait for a response, the more likely that response is going to be a big, fat ‘no’. This being the case, I was 90% sure that last full MS request would be a no weeks before I received it. But this is still the furthest I’ve felt from potential success for a couple of months, and it kinda sucks.

But you know, darkest before the dawn and all that. And what this does mean is that I’m considering a minor change in tactics.

In a complete contradiction of one of my previous posts explaining why I’m submitting to agents[link], I’m still going to submit to agents, but I think I’m going to try and submit to a few indie publishers as well. This is not because I’ve lost all faith that an agency will ever agree to represent me.


It’s more of a nothing-to-lose strategy. One of the things that put me off wanting to submit to publishers in the first place is that some agencies ask for a list of publishers who have already seen the manuscript – which, to me, felt a bit like sending them a list which said ‘lol turns out I suck at doing your job, but here’s a bunch of people I’ve made it pointless for you to approach, just to make this a nice fun challenge’. I’m still worried about that, but frankly I care less now. Beggars can’t be choosers, as they say, and I’m one rejection away from camping out on Bloomsbury’s doorstep and refusing to leave until someone reads my goddamn book.

Whilst I’m here, I’m also going to subtly hide in the middle of all this text that I’m going to scale back my pre-full MS requests 5-submissions-a-week goal. Now this is partly because I am just super busy at the minute, and finding time to write a weekly blog post is proving maddening enough. But mostly because I want to give myself a bit more time to work on my new project. This is not because I’ve lost all faith that anyone will ever publish this book.


But last weekend I went to one of Patrick Ness’s events to promote his new novel, Release (which, if you’re looking for a book recommendation, I can confirm is that fabulous Ness-ian mixture of heart-achingly real and brain-frazzlingly weird), and gave him a brief breakdown of my attempts to get published – brief because I spat the words out like a machine gun. After he’d stopped looking at me like this:


He advised me to split focus; keep sending off my book, but spend more time working on the new one, too. And to be honest, working on the new one requires infinitely fewer desperate-self-pep-talks and dark musings on my future, so I’d like to do more of it. I will definitely still be sending at least one submission off per week – hopefully two or three. And who knows, perhaps we’ll hit the hallowed ground of four or five on weeks when I’ve decided I don’t care about a) being caught sending submissions off from work b) having friends or c) sleeping. But to assuage my future guilt, I thought I’d best let you know.

So, to summarise: bit sad but will be okay, trying a few publishers, spending more time on new project and less whingeing about rejections.

And we can call this Plan J, or something.

Next Post: Okay, now it’s getting REALLY hard to come up with new ways of saying ‘still not published’. Kind of expanding on this post, I want to talk more about how to divide time between an old project and a new one – partly to see if it helps me figure out how to actually do that…

Submissions Last Week

Just the one I’m afraid, and to an agent….I will get on this Plan J thing though, I swear.

Current Rejection Tally: 25


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