I’ve sent Wait for Me to a number of agents now. Twelve in total, and most of these submissions have been met with a standard negative response or a stony silence. Most except two.
One charming agent replied within the hour explaining that he was so excited by the idea that he was compelled to read it immediately. He thought the concept was ‘terrific’ but unfortunately felt that the ‘quality of [my] writing didn’t match up to the high standards set by the idea’.
Well, I’m not going to pretend that it wasn’t a severe blow and that, for a few moments there, all my dreams of being a writer shrivelled and died. Of course they did, but only for few moments.
I read the email again, carefully making sure that I understood exactly what it was about the quality of my writing that was so poor.
Essentially, it was three things:
- I have a tendency to overwrite and could have more impact if I used fewer words
- My characters are two-dimensional, particularly Lisa, the main character
- My dialogue was boring – he wanted something sparky and witty for it to “fly”
It was a blow but not a disaster. At least he had bothered to reply and given me some honest and constructive criticism. He could just as easily have said ‘thanks but no thanks” and left it at that. Or, worse still, said nothing at all. At least I now know where I am going wrong and what improvements I need to make.
I did a bit of reading around the problems he identified and more widely around the editing process. Apparently, there are very few writers that are so gifted that they will write the perfect novel in the first draft. Most will end up writing four or five, and some of the best books ever written have come from self-confessed dreadful first drafts. For the majority of writers the process is not a gift but a craft that can be learned and practiced.
I looked into my flaws in more detail. Overwriting is a common problem and can be fixed. To make my characters three-dimensional I need to give them some unexpected characteristics and reveal these through their speech, actions and back stories. Writing a sparky and witty dialogue could be more of a challenge! I’ll need to give that one more thought. That does not seem to me to be someone one can learn. A bit of me thinks you either have it or you don’t and I’m not sure that I do.
The second reply I received was a week or so later, from a publishers called IPSO Books http://www.ipsobooks.com/.
They said that they enjoyed the first three chapters and asked me send them the full manuscript. Excited again, I sent the book off to them and waited…
Sadly they got back to me after Christmas to say they don’t want to pursue it further either. I can only assume it is for the same reasons as they don’t go into the specifics.
How disappointing. Not feeling great about my writing at the moment.
So, what’s next for Wait for Me in 2018? As I see it I have 3 options;
- Give up and start a new project
- Go ahead and self-publish
- Make the improvements through 2018 then try again
I have some thinking to do…