September 4, 2018 at 7:21 am #415GippsGirlParticipant
Totally agree, Philippa, that continually learning the craft of writing is essential. If I think about the *!@* that emerged on the page of my first attempt at writing a novel, I shudder. I found Writers’ Workshop, signed up to some courses, learnt from the talents of other Cloudies, and did the Self-edit course. I continue to learn, and have just finished Faber Academy’s ‘Who do you think they are?’ Horrendously expensive, but amazing and it will give a depth to my characters that I would not otherwise have known how to achieve. Thanks for the link to the StoryGrid podcasts, which look very interesting.September 4, 2018 at 8:39 am #417
Excellent point about craft, Philippa. I’ve always been rather, um…informal about how I approach structure etc but the more I learn, the more criticial I find it to be. I think you tend to improve naturally just by writing (and reading) more, but actively learning is essential. The problem I have with throwing myself into addressing matters of craft is the feeling of getting worse before you get better – but I was exactly the same with things like psychic distance.September 4, 2018 at 10:18 am #419KateParticipant
This has been a really encouraging thread for someone whose still battering at the agents’ doors. I am definitely one for bloody minded perseverance, so I’ve got that one ticked, and am always striving to improve my craft. I’ll take a look at those podcasts Philippa, they sound excellent.
I’ve just finished Mark Forsythe’s Elements of Eloquence which I found extraordinary for tips on how to tweak your sentences to give them maximum impact. Well worth a read.
Thanks Elle – I’m still writing short stories for competitions to try and improve my writing CV, and will have to have a go at some more magazines and anthologies.
Richard, remember it ain’t over till the fat lady sings, so I hope you can find the impetus to keep going.September 4, 2018 at 10:33 am #420
I too have always tended to wing it with structure, as I have with so much else. But I’ve got so used to being told that I’ve been clever and thinking ‘But I just bunged it down that way because it felt right,’ that I’ve probably got a bit too confident. Perhaps I’d better look at those podcasts too.
As for the age thing, I’m aware that publishing at my age can happen, but I’m also aware that it ups the odds against me considerably. And take into account that I have no involvement whatsoever with social media, no track record of writing success, and nothing interesting about me personally, and I’m not looking like an attractive prospect no matter how good my writing is. My Harry Bingham’s repeated insistence that all you have to do is write a brilliant book is sounding rather flip to me…September 4, 2018 at 10:42 am #421
Richard – FWIW, you also have us. One of the things I’d like the Den to be, as the Cloud has been at its best, is a place for mutual assistance, advice, support and so on. You may not have a presence on social media, but a lot of us do, and social media is as much about building a network as anything else. We can help you if you want to go down that route, or at the very least help put the word out. Belonging to a community such as this will help with your profile as far as an agent is concerned. You’re right that writing a brilliant book is only part of the process, but it’s still the most important part. I do know how downheartening it can get, though.
Those podcasts do look goodSeptember 4, 2018 at 12:30 pm #422
BTW Kate, I love magical realism, and given that the latest trend in publishing is towards ghost stories (Silent Companions etc.), maybe it won’t be long before that’s the hot genre?
I know what you mean, Daeds, about the ‘oh crap’ moment where you see where you’ve been going wrong. But it feels so good once you grasp it!September 4, 2018 at 3:05 pm #424
Er, maybe I should dust off my other MS then? The one I put aside, after I was told (three or four years ago) I had no hope of getting it published because it was a ghost story?
Thanks for the kind words, Daeds.September 4, 2018 at 3:58 pm #425ElleParticipant
Richard, you should definitely go for it. I’ve seen a few agents mentioning ghost story in their wishlist.September 4, 2018 at 4:26 pm #427
Hey Twitter, I would love, love, love to find both a fantastic historical fiction novel and a ghost story. So get sending / spreading the word please and make my summer great!
— Sarah Manning (@SarahManning123) July 4, 2018
Sarah Manning requested subs of ghost stories in July
September 4, 2018 at 6:49 pm #429
- This reply was modified 3 years, 8 months ago by Philippa East.
Ooh. Ooh. Maybe I really should. Bet I’ll find a load of things I want to change when I look at it again though. It’s been a while.September 5, 2018 at 4:24 am #431September 5, 2018 at 4:37 am #432KnicksParticipant
Also how did you get the tweet quote in your last post? Was it a link or an image (like a screenshot)? Always trying to learn how to improve my navigational prowess here, and that seems like a neat trick to know 🙂September 5, 2018 at 6:30 am #433KazGParticipant
Phillippa thanks for all your very helpful input – those podcasts look fantastic, will check them out.
Yes to perseverence and also to remembering that agent response is COMPLETELY subjective – not some all seeing deity decreeing from on high. I have had exactly opposite responses from two well respected agents on something I submitted – one said the idea was strong but the writing needed work while the other said I could certainly write and the prose was good, but the idea was a bit hackneyed…so there you go.
I’m in the throes of trying for an agent too PB so I sympathise! So much is timing and connection with the wright person (as well as writing a fantastic book, of course). I have had a nibble of interest but no actual offer yet so I’m at the same stage as you.
I recently read a thing published by Juliet Mushens and one of her writers – Jessie Burton – where they broke down Jessie’s (successful) cover letter and analysed it, here – http://www.jessieburton.co.uk/1/post/2013/08/dear-juliet.html
I found this really interesting and quite helpful actually, maybe you will too.
And GOOD LUCK!!September 5, 2018 at 9:07 am #434
I copied the wenbike for the image from the internet page, then clicked ‘IMG’ in this forum comments box, and pasted that link in when it asked for a URL. It didn’t seem to have worked at first, but then the image popped up in the thread.
@KazG wow good luck! And well done for the nibbles. That is a really positive sign.September 5, 2018 at 9:08 am #435
*weblinkSeptember 5, 2018 at 9:10 am #436
Yes, that Juliet / Jessie Burton article is really interesting. The only caveat with it IMO, is that I think Jessie could get away with being unusually ‘familiar’ and long-winded in her letter, because she had already been offered rep with other agents, so could be pretty ballsy in her submission to Juliet!September 5, 2018 at 9:11 am #437
Id anyone would like me to post the cover letter I used, let me know 🙂September 5, 2018 at 9:33 am #438
That’s a definite yes please Philippa!September 5, 2018 at 9:36 am #439JaneShuffParticipant
Hi Philippa (takes deep breath) What’s a wenbike?September 5, 2018 at 10:12 am #440
It was a typo!! I meant: weblink
And… breatheSeptember 5, 2018 at 10:41 am #441JaneShuffParticipant
Phew. I’m not as lacking in knowledge as I thought!September 5, 2018 at 11:15 am #442September 5, 2018 at 11:26 am #443
I own several wenbikes. They are bicycles in the shed that are only mentioned in the context of when-I-start-cycling-againSeptember 5, 2018 at 11:44 am #444WoolleybeansParticipant
*holds up a card reading 10 for Daeds’ wenbike definition*September 5, 2018 at 11:48 am #445
[Wait here while I find out how to post that gif of Catniss bowing from the first Hunger Games film]September 5, 2018 at 12:23 pm #447RaineParticipant
Wow, good thread me dears. PB, and others submitting, I feel your pain. I had an agent, had a book go out on sub, said agent left publishing, so now back to submitting a new book. I guess my experience has told me a few things:
1. Research your agencies as well as your agents. My agent was early career (a good thing re ambition perhaps), but also not well supported within a very small agency. Size of agency & career point of agent aren’t as important though as whether you personally get on with that agent.
2. Do look at indie publishers, they are doing amazingly well at boosting the less mainstream books, and are storming prize shortlists/sales charts. BUT there’s a huge range from sharks to stars. Society of Authors sells a guide to them, it’s worth checking out. Also, if you get an offer, and are then eligible to join the SoA, they will vet the contract for you.
3. Subsequent books will possibly do better. Me – first book (shudder), no full requests (deservedly). Second book, took first agent offer, didnt sub elsewhere. Third book, ~50% full requests, (whispers: other stuff). So don’t give up if book no. 1 doesn’t reap gold.
4. Get on with something else while your submissions are out. THere’s nothing worse than staring at your inbox, and most agents take … a … long … time… Write book 2. Write shorts and sub them. Eat chocolate.
Long post, sorry. It’s really tough. Bon courage.September 5, 2018 at 2:12 pm #453
Wow, what a climb, Raine. Did it give you courage, though, having that first agent interested? Having 50% full requests is amazing! (what is the “other stuff”?)
So is it your third book that’s out on submission at the mo?
wenbikes. Yeah. I have those.September 5, 2018 at 3:00 pm #457PinkbeltParticipant
I’m genuinely amazed at the level of interest and input in the thread. Thanks guys. I was expecting a few woo hoos! And the occasional go for its. There’s some genuinely good stuff and it makes me feel:
1) Like I’m not alone
2) More prepared
3) Excited to get started
So thanks again everybody.September 5, 2018 at 10:50 pm #484PinkbeltParticipant
Well I’ve only gone and done it haven’t I – officially submitted. Now comes the waiting, well actually I have to send another two out.
My idea is to keep six on the go and replenish after each crayoned note with the words – No Way, written in reply.September 5, 2018 at 10:53 pm #485JulesParticipant
Best of luck, Pinkie. Roiting for you.
And what a great thread 🙂
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