In the previous post I mentioned a near miss. An agent had written me a very personal reply a year earlier saying he’d given Child Taken careful consideration. Twelve months on, with a much better version now in place, I sent it to him again.
And got exactly the same ‘personal’ response. Identical to the last full stop!
I was learning, not very quickly, but I was learning.
Rudyard Kipling’s twin imposters poem – not to mention his cakes – had got me through a year or so of rejection (click here to read Part 1). But I was still going, almost refusing to give up and also clinging onto the fact that whilst it was rejection, it was positive rejection and a lot of good things were being said so I mustn’t be a million miles off course.
But still, I wasn’t getting it right. And all the guides and research I did said that the holy grail was to find an agent who wanted to talk to you about your book.
They also reminded me that I didn’t need them all to like it. I just needed one of them to love it.
So I carried on both improving the book (by now, I had rewritten the ending as well as doing countless tweaks) and looking for agents who might love it. My research became meticulous, searching for exactly the right type of agent who had said something in the past that gave a clue to them being ‘the one’ or whose other clients bore a resemblance in their type of book or way of telling the story.
The rejections still came but they were still really positive. Then I got an email from an agent who ‘wanted to talk to me about the book’. With Kipling firmly in mind, I didn’t get too excited but I did a little.
They really liked the book. A phone call was arranged for the Monday morning. Things were moving at long last. I’d found someone who might come to love it.
On the Sunday evening I prepared like crazy because the books were right; the one thing above all else that a would-be author wants to hear from an agent is that they want to talk. You spend hour after hour considering how to word a covering letter just for this exact moment. So I researched more than ever and knew exactly what I was going to say.
Then on the Monday, after more last minute prep, I got an email a few minutes before the call was due to start, saying ‘can’t talk now, stuck in a meeting and I’ll be in touch.’
That was a year ago last week. I didn’t hear a word after that and after a couple of chases, it all felt a bit desperate when the obvious conclusion was that they didn’t want to talk about the book after all, so I stopped trying to resurrect the conversation.
Either that or it was a bloody long meeting.
But that’s not to say that the experience has been entirely negative.
Some agents – a couple in particular – we’re lovely and so supportive (if they are reading this, they’ll know who they are) and helped me a lot in terms of both advice on the book and guiding me as to how it all works.
But, if you’re writing and reading this before or during the submission period for your own book, just be prepared for a long and bumpy ride. And that’s not to put you off at all; because it’s a ride you’ve got to take whether you like it or not, if you want to go down that traditional route.
Just remember to wear a helmet.
Next Time – Week Nine: We Can’t Help You In Any Event (or Where To Go) – Part 1