I had been torn between just self-publishing my first novel (working title THE MURK BENEATH) and trying to get an agent / publisher. I was impatient to begin with – sod all the inevitable rejection and just go it alone. Then I hesitated. I’d give it a bash, see if I could get myself a reputable agent. And so I got my first 3 chapters into shape, wrote a fairly eloquent, if overly long, query letter, and sent it out to about a dozen agents – some targeted, some just to the generic submissions email. I’d get flat out rejections, I thought, justify my initial instinct to just stop wasting time and go it alone.
Then an agent replied: “I’ve very much enjoyed your opening chapters and wonder if you’d be kind enough to email me the full manuscript?”
Great, I thought, the rest of the book is actually stronger than the beginning… surely this is it!
A second agent responded, asking for the full manuscript: “[Y]ou can write. Your dialogue is spot on.”
And a third agent: “The beginning is tremendously promising.”
For just a brief moment I thought it was a virtual certainty. I was going to get an agent. I was going to get published. I was … well, I started to get carried away.
Then I heard nothing for a few days. I guessed that not hearing anything within a couple of days was bad news. Sure enough, the first agent responded with the bad news. “[T]hough I think there’s a huge amount to admire here I’m afraid I don’t feel I can take it forward.” I expect the rejection, so it didn’t actually hit me too hard. I’ve focused on the positives. The other 2 agents haven’t responded yet – I will follow up with them at some point to get feedback if they’ll indulge me.
So I can write, there is tremendous promise, etc. And I got further than the great majority of writers who don’t even get an acknowledgement, let alone have 3 agents request the full manuscript. I just haven’t pieced the entire story / plot together yet.
My plan is to shelve the book for a bit, substantially rewrite it later when I come back to it with a fresh perspective. In the meantime I am doing with my second novel what I didn’t do with the first – I am meticulously planning it, sketching in all the character outlines and plot points. I’ve had verification that I can string some words together, write good dialogue, and now I just need to piece it all together.
As for self-publishing? That’s on hold for the foreseeable future. If I can just get that first book published, then it will substantially increase my chances of getting previous books I’ve written published.