Drowning not Waving

Judith Barrow

 

As part of our Novel Writing Month, we asked Creative Competitor subscriber and newly published author Judith Barrow to share her angst as she endeavoured to get her novel published.

 JUDITH BARROW[1]

 
July 2008.
 
Drat (or words to that effect!)
It’s been four months since I gave my manuscript of Pattern of Shadows a hug and a kiss and let it slip through my fingers into the Post Box. Again.
Of course, according to some of the people I know in the writing world – which isn’t that many but they all have an opinion, of course – I was doing it the wrong way round. Instead of sending it to publishers I should have been approaching agents.
‘But this one is a good publisher, with an excellent reputation.’ I protested, ‘I’ve had stuff printed with them before.’
 
Admittedly not a novel, but plenty of short stories. I didn’t know why I hadn’t thought of this independent press months ago. ‘I trust them.’
Snorts of exasperation – at my gullibility? Stubbornness?
 ‘You’ll get nowhere without an agent,’ one said, smugly. Of course she’s already signed up with an agent whose list is full.
 ‘How could you even think of trying to do it on your own?’ was another horrified response when told what I’d done, ‘with the sharks there are out there, you’ll be eaten alive.’
‘Or sink without a trace.’ Helpful prediction from a so-called friend!
 
So, after trawling my way through the Writers & Artists Yearbook (an invaluable tome and which, I should mention, was what I’d originally used, years ago, to find the first publisher for my first story) I bundled up two more copies of my manuscript and sent them out to different agents.
 
Which brings me back to ‘drat!’
Which is mild, considering how I really feel: disappointed, upset, angry.
 
Let me explain.
Three weeks ago I was approached by one of the agents who, on the strength of my manuscript, agreed to take me on. The praise from her assistant was effusive, the promises gratifying. It was arranged that I meet with the two of them in London to discuss the contract they would send in the post, there would be no difficulty in placing my novel with one of the big publishers; they would make my name into a brand.
There was some editing to do, of course. Even though the manuscript was in its fifth draft, I knew there would be. After all, the agent, a big fish in a big pond, knew what she was doing. Okay, she was a little abrasive (on hindsight I would say rude) but she was a busy person, I was a first time author.
May I add here that I still thrill at that nomenclature?
 
But I digress; leap too far ahead. Whatever I thought of the agent, I was on my way. Or so I thought.
Today, four days before the meeting I receive an email; the agent’s assistant has left the agency and they no longer think they can act for me. They have misplaced my manuscript but will try to locate it. In the meantime will I send an SAE for its return when ‘it turns up’?…..
 
More next week………………
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