It’s August, the Dead Month. The holiday, if you've had one, is gone and you're back at the day job. Your boss has, as promised, stapled your desk to your legs to stop you running away, and you're starting to think maybe you should send your book to some agents, or write a book and send it to some agents, because it would be really great if you could earn some money and maybe not spend quite so much time bleeding out in an office building.
Some things are inevitable when you embark on the submissions process, and one of them is the dreaded agent's ejection. Here’s how you deal with it:
1. Remember that ejection isn’t the end.
The uncashable reality-check that comes with the word ‘unfortunately’ is pretty harsh. They didn’t feel passionately enough to represent your book, which doesn’t hurt in itself, but the realisation that another avenue of success is now closed is a hard one. It’s difficult enough to hear the words without the physical pain that follows when you are thrown bodily from your prospective agent’s office by their spring-loaded AuthorFling™ office chair.
But fear not! There are many agents in the world. Of that many, some proportion will live in your country, and of that proportion, some smaller proportion will be interested in representing books of your genre.
Of that proportion, some smaller proportion will be open to submissions in the near future, and of that proportion, some smaller proportion will want to read your full manuscript, and of that proportion, one might feel so passionately about your book that they don’t press that big red button. It's only a matter of time! So much time, slipping through your fingers.
2. When writing, dress for the work-day.
Writing might not be your job yet, and you might be exhausted from a day at your real job, which I’m sure is just as fulfilling, but you should dress for the job you want, not the one you have! I’m not talking about tweed. The modern author gets out and about, and that means practicality.
I recommend a children’s skateboarding helmet, because they’re cheaper than adult ones, and a thick chopping board sellotaped to the back of your bargain-bin t-shirt, because you can’t afford Kevlar. With this 21st-Century businesswear you can minimise spinal trauma from email ejections, which can come at any time and send you hurtling from the sofa into the fridge without warning. Get suited and booted so you’re ready for the good news, which is sure to come.
Unfortunately you’ll need to remove your armour sometimes, for sleeping and spending time with loved ones, so in that case just… try to go limp.
3. Don’t stop writing.
You’re a writer! It’s who you are, it’s why you get up in the morning, and remembering that is the best way to keep your mind off the things you really should keep your mind off during the winter months, as the holiday season approaches, you know what I mean? You know what I’m talking about! This guy, eh? We have fun, us writers.
This means when you get home after work, after cooking dinner and tidying the house and treating the infestations and giving the absolute minimum to your relationships and pawing ineffectually at the child-lock your flatmate has put on the gin, but before staring at your bank balance and lying half-awake for seven hours before getting up and going to work and coming home again, you need to give it your all!
Real writers put effort into their craft. Make sure you’re on top of your game for the next forty-five minutes, writing real quality work that won’t get you thrown through a top-floor window next year. Remember, writing makes you happy! You love writing, and yourself, who isn’t a failure. Oh, and don’t forget to harshly criticise your own work as you do it, because you can’t settle for less than outstanding in this climate.
4. Keep your chin up! =)
It's important to stay positive! Did you know that people with a positive outlook, on average, live 7.5 years longer and that getting an NHS mental health referral takes five months? Smile!
Remember: your manuscript might feel like a physical manifestation of your own folly, and the midnight screams from the drawer you sealed it in might sound real, and the years of sacrifices you made to produce something you thought was good might slightly torment you in the long hours of the night, but don’t give up!
Why, you ask? Well, for starters,
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