Things have been a little quiet around this blog for a few weeks, mostly due to the fact I’ve been flat out working and marking A Level Media Studies scripts for the exam board. That’s not left a great deal of time for anything else except sleep and the odd bottle of prosecco! However, term is due to end soon, the end of the marking is in sight, and hopefully things will calm down a bit.
And of course, there were the three full manuscript requests I received.
The first one, at the start of May, felt incredible. Someone in the business actually wanted to read my book. I sent if off sharpish, spent the next few days obsessively checking my email and basically existed in a state of feverish anticipation, even though I knew I wouldn’t hear anything for at least a few weeks.
Then I got the second request a week later. One could have been a fluke; an agent having a good day, a funny five minutes, but a second one felt like a validation. Two agents had now responded to my query letter, synopsis and first three chapters, and I was absolutely over the moon. In fact, at the time I received the second request, I was sat in the Withdrawal Room at school, just checking my email, and the first thing I did was call the English Office where I knew my good friend Steph was working to tell her about the second request. On reflection, I’m really glad there weren’t any naughty students in the WR that day, as I did quite a lot of squealing!
What followed was a few weeks of immense anticipation, coupled with quite searing self doubt, pretty much for the first time since I’d started writing. Ironic, isn’t it, that at the very moment I should be feeling confident about the story, I suddenly also started thinking ‘what if I’ve oversold it?’ ‘What if the query letter isn’t representative of the actual story and the whole novel is just going to be a huge let down?’ ‘What if it’s just not clever enough?’ All this, while still feverishly checking my email, of course!
Over the next seven weeks I received a few more rejections, most of them kind. One of them a bit short, but I think I was more peeved that the agency who’d sent that one to me had not only requested a hard copy, CV and covering letter, as well as an SAE through the post, but had also rejected me by email and obviously kept my stamp (well, that’s how I saw it, anyway!). But I can honestly say that the rejections have never worried me – par for the course, it seems, and actually, I’ve always felt confident that this novel is in the best place it can be, barring outside interventions, so the rejections aren’t an issue.
And then the third request came. And things really got exciting.
All the way through the process, I’ve emailed the interested agents to let them know about each other, and so I dutifully did so again (incidentally, writing short emails to agents is A LOT HARDER than writing 120,000 words of a flipping novel – I was so paranoid about getting the wording right and not sounding like a) a pushy author who’s agitating for a response, and b) an obsequious smarmy cow with the ‘I’m sorry to bother you, but…’ that they took longer than they should have done to compose!). That was last Monday.
Since then, I’ve had the most incredible email from the second requesting agent, offering me representation. I read it at 6.30am on Thursday morning, after having been up most of the night with my younger daughter, and, standing as I was at the top of the stairs, I nearly fractured life and limb in shock. Not to mention the five year old who was screeching her head off because she’d passed me the kindle in the first place so she could watch Topsy and Tim on the BBC iPlayer and there was Evil!Mummy, maliciously nicking (my own) kindle back off her and then squealing. Oh, and then there was the madcap banging on the door of the bathroom to alert The Husband, who, in his keep-your-feet-on-the-ground way just said. ‘Oh, that’s great. Now can I finish my shower?’. Having decided it was far too early to ring my Mum and Dad, I read it again, squealed some more and then had breakfast.
And now I’m waiting for the other two agents to come back to me, but, to be honest, they’ll have a tough act to follow after this first offer. Because this agent gets it. And she was so enthusiastic, and so lovely sounding. And now I’ve got to take a deep breath, do my homework and think hard about what questions to ask, and how to approach this, now that my book has become a real option in terms of career and potential marketplace.
And, in the midst of all this, I have one other burning question.
Can I call myself an author yet?
Wow congratulations!! How long did that take/did they contact you?? That’s a far out dream for me at the moment, and I’ve definitely been using the word author wrong. I keep referring to myself as one, even though I’ve only written short stories and I’m writing a novel atm. I’m a fellow writer myself and would love to get your feedback on some of my posts (especially my prologue for my novel, as you’ve had experience with writing one) if you have time. Also I post short stories on my blog. If not, thanks anyway, have fun writing and keep it up 🙂
Hi there 🙂
Sorry for the delay in replying – things have been really busy! In answer to your question, it was seven weeks between the agent’s request for a full MS and their offer of representation. This, I think, is quite fast, probably because I’d had other requests for the full, so I feel relieved it didn’t take months and months, which, I’ve read, can happen with some agencies!
I would love to have a read of your posts and your blog :). I’m not sure how helpful I can be in terms of feedback, but I’ll certainly have a read :). Have you finished your novel or are you still writing? Hope it’s going well :).
I’m sure a published author would be more than useful for feedback 😉 7 weeks? Wow that’s fast from what I’ve heard, congratulations! I’m currently still writing the novel, got a long way to go yet :’) the prologue is on my homepage, and my mailing list get a sneak peek at Chapter 1, if you’re interested check it out 🙂
Oh Fay, this is wonderful news! I’m so pleased for you, can’t wait to hear how it all works out. And yes, I think you’ve been an author for a while now 🙂
Thanks so much, Helen! It’s been an exciting week :). And the ‘author’ word is such a loaded term, isn’t it? On the odd occasion I’ve dared to use it in conversation, it’s inevitably followed up with ‘have you been published?’ and that’s been a tricky one to answer so far! (Hopefully, not much longer though, fingers crossed!!). Are you subbing Ambeth at the moment? Keep meaning to say, I’ve downloaded it and read the first chapter, and I LOVE it! x
It’s funny, isn’t it? If you say you’re an artist, people don’t say ‘oh, have you been exhibited?’ I believe that the act of writing makes you an author, just like any other creative endeavour. So we should use it with pride! And thanks for your kind words about Ambeth, I’m so pleased you’re enjoying it. 🙂 I’ve given up on the idea of submitting it, to be honest, and am enjoying the degree of creative control I have from doing it myself. It’s getting some good feedback and I haven’t really promoted it yet so will keep going with the series that way. But I haven’t given up on submitting, I have another book called A Thousand Rooms which is nearly finished and I’ll be sending that out soon for a round of subs. Are you at liberty yet to tell which agent you’re going with? It’s all very exciting xx
I’m so happy for you Faye. You must be mega excited! Looking forward to reading the books and proud to know a real author 🙂
Thanks so much, Shirley – I’m ridiculously excited at the moment, and it’s starting to feel like ‘Far From the Tree’ will be out there more widely :). I can’t wait to hear what you think of it 🙂 xxx