You make your own luck. But just in case…
It’s been a pretty big week, so welcome to the latest in my series on trying to get published. Last time I talked about researching agents, and I have news: my aim when I started this series was to get my novel sent off to a batch of agents before Easter, and guess what? Success!
I realised on Wednesday night last week that I could poke and tweak and re-poke and re-tweak my query letter forever and still not send it off. All it’s supposed to do is introduce agents to the novel (and author) – when push comes to shove, the novel needs to speak for itself. And so I stopped poking and re-poking and instead sent my first batch of query letters out. And now I’m checking my emails every five minutes. No news yet.
One of the reasons I was so keen to get things out was that I was paranoid about sending things in during Easter week when agents might be off on their hols, so I successfully accomplished that. Unfortunately what I should have realised is that this week is the London Book Fair, so I’m pretty sure everyone in the entire industry is swamped. Oh well. There’ll always be a reason not to send something in and the agents I’ve picked all sound like they do, eventually, check all submissions. So we shall see.
Just checked my emails again. Nothing.
On the other hand, seeing as this week is the London Book Fair and I just happen to have a novel to a publishable (so says I) state, I booked a last-minute day off work and pootled along. With a stash of query letters in my bag, of course.
I’ve not been to one before and a lot of the really exciting things – pitch competitions and the like – need to be booked far in advance. There was however a dedicated authors’ area with a programme of brief panel discussions about the industry. That’s where I toddled off to for the first talk of the day, an intro to the publishing process with speakers from a bookseller, a big publishing house, an independent publishing house and, rather enticingly, an agent. Lots of handy things were discussed and I asked a question about simultaneous submission etiquette to the agent, Camilla Wray from Darley Anderson (answer: it’s fine, but let agents know what you’re up to). And right at the end as everyone was leaving, I pulled myself up by my bootstraps, introduced myself to Camilla and proffered her a copy of my query letter, synopsis and first three chapters. Which she took. It was busy, and many others were waiting to pounce after me, so I didn’t really say a massive amount, but hopefully the face-to-face contact will be a helpful reminder. I was wearing a distinctive stripy jumper and have ludicrous facial hair, so I’ll stick in her mind for better or worse!
I didn’t achieve much with the rest of my time there, but I was thinking of it in terms of a fact-finding mission ahead of going to more such events. Working out what goes on, what the etiquette is and so forth. Also, couple of free glasses of wine right at the end, so score!
And as of right now, five agents, all of whom I’m specifically excited about, have copies of my query letter, synopsis and first three chapters. Hopefully someone will ask for more of the manuscript but if not, in about five weeks time I’ll send the next batch of letters out.
So. Wish me luck. More soon.