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  • Writer's picturemightynite

What I wish I'd known

I wrote to Literary agents when I first finished the manuscript. At that time I was unsuccessful. With all your lovely comments and the great reviews, I am now sending Kitty off once more. Then I shall move on to the sequel. More about that in subsequent posts.

I WISH I'D KNOWN how difficult it is to get a book out there before I started writing. There is so much to consider. I didnt realise that many successful authors write to a formular of sorts. They know what a literary agent is looking for, and write accordingly. Who knew it wasnt some kind of artistic magic that happened to some and not to others? Probably you are less idealistic than me and knew that all along. Now I get it, I recommend to all I meet who are writing, an excellent little book called The First Five Pages, a Writers Guide for Staying Out of the Rejection Pile, by Luke Noahman. You can find a copy here.

We all know how difficult it is to get an agent and many authors simply self publish. But I find all the stuff around self publishing so stressful, so I'm giving it another go. And it is a task! Every agent asks for a different format. If you dont get the covering letter right, it'll go straight into the bin. Not easy. Kitty has not yet been accepted, so I cannot speak from a postition of success. There is lots out there about the process. but here's a brief break down.


The pitch is a one or two liner that sums the book up. One agent sites the pitch for Alien as a perfect example, 'Jaws in space.' Now this is all well and good for a thriller or action novel, but for a weaving emotional saga, like Kitty Canham, it is much more tricky.


This is usually up to 500 words that tells the major themes and incidents in the story. But... and here's the challenge, they so often say they don't want spoilers. My first attempt was so ambiguous that it hardly had any of the story in it at all. In fact I am changing the blurb on the back of the book with my next edition, because it is likewise wooly.

I have changed my synopsis. I am including the plot points and giving spoilers away. The historical points in Kitty Canham are the most interesting bits, in trying to leave them out I feel I wont be whetting anyones appetite. So, I'm ignoring the rules. Only time will tell if I am right to do so.


Some want the first three chapters, some 10,000 words. Some with 1.5 spacing. Some with blocked format. Some want pdf's, some want word, (no-one wants pages). A minefield. And you can't choose your best bits, it's always the opening. I don't think this helps with an unfolding tale, like Kitty's.


There's little I can say, but that each agent asks for different things.


I will be much more aware of how I write the first five pages of my next novel. It seems that a gentle unfolding is not an option. Also, I know that I have learnt so much from writers groups and courses. I highly recommend them if you want to write. I am amazed at how many excellent writers there are out there. Many will never be published. But that is not why they write. They have something to say, or a story to tell and they just write to get it out there. Whether you write a journal, business reports or books, happy writing everyone.

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