Monday, 22 April 2013

Hunting for a Literary Agent - Keep Calm and Carry On

   Well, this post is for you people who have submitted your work and are feeling just down right miserable. You probably got a rejection, or your doubting your skill, or perhaps you've not sent anything yet, but you've realised the likelihood of getting a rejection letter and have let it beat you down before you've even started. I wanted to suggest a few things to you to get you positive and hopefully re-ignite the fire of your dream. Say nothing about that poor metaphor.
   • Self-publishing is always an option. You won't get the same publicity and likely not the same success without an agent, but self-publishing can get your work printed and distributed across Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other book shops. Amazon themselves have a self-publishing business. The Song of Dragons trilogy was printed by Amazon's service. It might not be the same, but self-publishing, and just how easy it is, means that nothing your write has to go to waste. Every single thing you've written can become a bound book, and you can make money off of it. You could even become a success story.
   • Read SlushPile Hell. It's an entertaining Tumblr page that I've mentioned before, and contain the worst fragments of awful cover letters. It can be painful and worrying to read - you may get half way through one example and see massive resemblances between that and your own cover letter. It can be awful. But then by the time you read the end of the post, you see where the problem was, and you know you didn't do that. Alternatively, it's also a great place to look to make sure you don't make those same mistakes, and also just generally entertaining. Note, as well, that the blogger is an actual agent, these are fragments of actual cover letters, but they do not make fun of any manuscripts. Making fun of the actual work, not to mention generally posting it online, is a line they cannot and will not cross.
   • Keep writing. I've said this before, but if you keep writing then you can write through the upset, and you can maybe write something even better than you already have, and get better luck with that.
   • Exercise and eat well. This will help you feel better. Staying indoors, out of any natural light while binge eating will not do your mind any good, and will only help along the upset. When they say that exercising and eating well are necessary to good health, it doesn't just mean physical health.
   • Find a new hobby - learn to knit; buy a blender and become a Smoothie Queen; volunteer somewhere;
   • Buy some books, read them, review them - keep active with books if it will help. It might make you more miserable if you're too far gone, you might hate the smell and sight of published books until you become one of them. You might get jealous of any writer you hear about. Don't let yourself do that. These could become friends of yours one day. Instead, read these new books and see what they've done that you didn't - fast-paced beginnings, better description, deeper stories, and so on.
   • Start a blog documenting your progress.
   • Re-discover Pinterest and see what you can find to make.
    • Buy a membership...somewhere. RSPB? Gym? Cinema? The RSPB ones are particularly good.

   Just keep yourself busy, and keep that first thought especially in mind. It really picks me up when I'm down, and is something my dear friend Lucy had to remind me of. It's not the way I want my career to go, I'd rather do it properly because it feels more "official", but if I get to the age when I need to let go of my dream for one reason of another, then that is always a very real option.
   And if you're feeling down about your work despite not having even sent it out yet, then pick yourself up and get on with it. And if you have had someone read it and they've said they don't like it, don't take it to heart, and if possible, ask why they didn't like it. If they simply say that they didn't like the characters or the story, you might want to just ignore them. If it's because they say there's too much description, not enough description, poorly spelt or badly written, then you might want to thank them for their opinion and look into what they said. They might have a point, and you don't get second chances when submitting books. If they say "no" to one, then that book is a "no" - at least for your debut. If you get somewhere with it, the next agent, if not the same, will be more interested in reconsidering it. If you were a roaring success then the odds are on your side.
Keep Calm and Carry On.


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