Local Media Mention

0e8fa8cd18ddcf51f5f259f2a5978dcdWell, this was a pleasant surprise. Back in June, I approached some local newspapers to add a little blurb about Her Sweetest Downfall. I heard nothing back so I figured that was that.

Tonight, I came across this blurb from the Parramatta Advertiser! Very happy but I wish they told me about it first!

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The Three Walls

6a017d3e74d693970c01901e4f6719970b-320wiGetting an agent these days is a tough achievement and if you do manage to score one, it doesn’t mean instant success. I had an agent a few years ago, and while we had a great relationship, she struggled to sell my book. In the end, we parted ways and I sold the title to my current publisher.

In the world of agents, plucking a winner from the slush pile seems like a mean feat. They are extremely picky with who and what they choose. From what I’ve experienced over the years, I find there are three walls to break down before securing an agent:

  • The Query – This step manages to befall even the best of writers. Your query letter must be like a resume – professional, quick and relatable. What I mean by that is, you have to edit each query to every agent you query to. Like a job application, you wouldn’t send a CV with experience of retail to a doctor’s surgery. Every agent has different specifications you must adhere to and if you don’t, you’ve screwed your first impression. Always read the agent’s requests and follow them. Most of the time, they don’t accept unsolicited mail, so always copy and paste your sample into the body of an email. 99% of agents will ask this.

If you’re successful in your query, the agent will ask for sample chapters.

  • The sample chapters – Sample chapters will usually involve the first 1-3 chapters or the first 50 pages – whichever comes first. Always ensure your work is tip top shape before sending it over. Remember, the agent is keen to see more of your work so make sure it’s edited and formatted as per their site (if they request this). If they don’t, I usually submit in Times New Roman, font size 12 and line space of 1.5 or 2.

It will take time for them to get back to you, so BE PATIENT! The agent will usually specify how long it will take to come back with an answer on their website. 6-8 weeks is pretty standard for samples. Some agents might even take more. If you get itchy feet and its hitting the 9-10 week mark, send the agent a polite email chasing up your work. If they don’t reply within a normal time frame, don’t keep sending emails. Just assume your work wasn’t successful.

  • The Full MS – By this point, you have secured the agent’s interest. Well done! It’s an exciting and hellish time. The agent can take up to 3 months to read your work and get back to you. This wall is the hardest to break. The smallest thing can alter their decision – the main character ticked them off or the book’s ending didn’t satisfy them. It’s important to invest in good beta readers to ensure your work is covered by different types of readers. Each person is unique in what they like and spot in your work.

It’s okay to send a reminder to the agent if they haven’t gotten back to you within their time frame. It’s during this time, you should do some background on the agency in case they offer representation. This should be done from the query side, but it doesn’t hurt to look now. Contact their authors and politely ask what they are like etc.  If you are happy with what you’ve found out, sit back and wait for their response.

While the rate of authors being picked up isn’t rare, the numbers are small. Some agencies only sign 5-10% of their slush pile. If an agent likes your work and sees potential, they will offer representation. Congratulations!  The next step is world domination!

Rejections

Rejections are a part of every writer’s repertoire. I’ve received hundreds in my years of submitting – I even have a folder in my email dedicated to them, though I dare not to look!

For new authors, rejections are hard to swallow. Feelings of inadequacies often follow. Is it me or do they hate my writing?  I thought like that for years, and hated my work because of it. But you must never take it personal. Agents or publishers don’t dislike you as a person- your work doesn’t suit them at the time or they didn’t feel a connection to the work.

I’m currently in submission for my historical WIP Unspoken. I’ve received nothing but rejections for 2 months. It stings but I keep on trucking. Someone out there will like this work, a book I spent 12 months pouring blood, sweat and tears into.

I submitted to a well known publishing house recently and they seemed keen on reading the work. I heard back from them today and I knew the email wasn’t going to be an offer. They said the work had great detail but read like a soap opera. I don’t disagree with them – I see it, but I never intended for the “drama to go on and on”. It needs cleaning up obviously, despite having 3 beta readers and two edits by me. A book can never have too many edits.

They mentioned it needs a good copy edit and my past tense is all off. Unfortunately that’s my weakness; I can’t seem to grasp past and present tense well enough. My current publisher is always pulling their hair out because of it.

I expect a lot more rejections to come with this new revelation. I wish I had spent more time editing it before submitting it to 20+ publishers. I get too impatient and can’t wait to submit it.

I’ve spent so much time and effort on the book I couldn’t wait to get it out there and out of my mind. Never listen to your head! If the book doesn’t feel finished, don’t send it out!

Rejections are a part of life and something you must never take personal. Just think: JK Rowling was rejected by dozens of publishers before being sold. When a publisher or agent rejects your work, they are not rejecting you as a person and its only one person’s opinion. There are many other avenues out there for you work. Just keep on writing!

The start of my writing career

We all started writing one day – whether it was a hobby or to vent some frustrations. I started my writing career young. The earliest memory I have is penning a story about a fairy. It was about 4 sentences long but that’s where my love for the written word birthed.

At school, I used to love creative writing classes and can recall an English class where the teacher asked to think of a story and to ensure we filled out the ‘beginning’, ‘middle’ and ‘end’ forms provided. I had so many stories in my head I didn’t know where to begin.

Believe it or not, I credit the Backstreet Boys on giving me my creative voice. When I was about 12, I started writing a book, about a girl who met the group when they got lost and appeared on her front door. In my mind, if I wrote about it, it would happen!

This story ended up becoming a series. I wrote 5 of these novels where the main character Joelle, grew up and married Nick Carter. I was a kid, okay!

I handwrote these books in binders and kept them hidden in my closest. No one ever read them. I threw them out when I moved out of home in 2005 and I cringe at the thought if anyone came across them. If I never saw the Backstreet Boys on TV back in 1997, would I be writing today?

After that, my writing bloomed. When I was in high school, I wrote a fan fiction X Files book and a Saving Private Ryan clone called Resistance to Fear. I loved to write. After school, I would fight my sister on the computer and write my novels. I would save them on my floppy disks and keep them somewhere safe.

I was naive to the publishing industry and didn’t even consider publishing my books until further in life.  Back then, I thought it was normal to pay to have your book published. (More on that later)

Once I had established a bit of a writing bug, I penned a book called Giblin the Conquerer. It was a sci-fi/fantasy novel, inspired by Emily Rhoda’s Rowan of Rin series. I don’t recall how long it took me to write but I was so proud of it when I completed it. I’ve since lost the manuscript. I had printed it out and misplaced the floppy disk so I have no idea where it is!

My writing halted for a little while when I finished high school in 2003. After that, my next big project was ‘All She ever Wanted.’ At the time in my life, I had moved away from home to live in Sydney and start an actual career. I wrote any chance I got – on my lunch break, at home after dinner, on the weekend. It took me 12 months to finish it – with a 6 month gap in between. I found what ‘writer’s block’ truly meant.

When I was satisfied it was finished, I asked a work colleague at the time about publishing my book. She suggested a vanity publisher her sister had used. Back then, I had no idea paying to have your book published wasn’t ‘normal’. It cost me $2200 at the time and it felt good to have the book in my hands. It was released in 2008. A copy was sent to the National Library and I even got an interview on SWR FM.

I  was now a published author and very proud of my accomplishments. During this time, I penned another novel, The Guardian, which never got finished. Looking back on it, it could have become a good piece, but I lost my passion for it and my writing waned again.

I took another ‘break’ and began researching my novel ‘Darkness before Dawn‘ in 2011. I had such a big lapse in writing, I had no idea how long it would take me to finish it. After a year of researching, writing, beta reading, revising and editing, it was ready to go in 2012. This novel was truly a challenge for me, but I loved every minute of it. The first draft is so different to the version that got published that it really showed me how much I matured as a writer and a person. However I cringe at my earlier work!

Since that moment, writing has become a staple in my life. I have since published 4 books traditionally, with another to be released in 2015. I look forward to the next ten years in my writing career and where it will lead me!

I would love to know your writing journey. Please comment in the section below.