Getting Published: part…six?

Don’t agree to everything your agent says.

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Soooooo… Last time I updated, my agent Suresh and I were talking about THE ENDING of my novel. And we talked for nearly two months about the bloody ending. For the first time, I just couldn’t accept the changes he wanted me to make, full stop.

Originally, I’d written a happy book about a woman who creates dreams and adopts an unloved child. Now looking at it: it’s got a diamond heist, nightmares and no happy family. But it’s so much more exciting! Diamonds! Nightmares! A bitter-sweet, good-feeling ending.

Except Suresh said it tied up ‘too neatly and too nicely’. Everything gets solved. “What if the protagonist was wrong about everything and there is no diamond?” Well, at first that sounded like a great plot twist, except if there’s no diamond then everything throughout the novel was a red herring and there’s no alternative crime.

Suresh suggested the crime should be tax-evasion. BORIIIIIING. No. *stamps foot* No. No. No. We’ve been through magical worlds of magic, we’ve been promised apprehending diamond thieves, and to turn around and say: time for tax evasion and a miserable ending would feel like, I think, slapping the reader.

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I really tried to take on board his ideas and advice, which is why it took two months of agonising talks, but I just thought the suggested changes were…absolutely wrong. I colluded with Amanda Meuwissen, the lovely lady who agreed to edit my last draft, and she agreed with me that a diamond heist was way better.

Anyway, in the end, I wrote out a long proposal on everything that I felt could improve the ending but also why there should absolutely be a diamond heist. How it would be a let-down-ending to make the crime so mundane compared to the rest of the novel. I compared it to published books in magical realism that have taken the craziest scenario and been successful. I talked about audiences craving for superheros and high-octane dramas, just look at the box office.

Luckily my very, very long email was a success.

So now I’m beating my head against the desk as I research the Crown Court and how justice works if you’re prosecuting someone for diamond theft and your lead witness discovered it all in a dream.

Brb with a novel.

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Getting Published: part five

Rejection. Last update I said I’d applied to a few different agents and, whoop, they said “no thanks.”

BUT GOOD NEWS.

In a burst of despair and a need for closure, I sent an email to Suresh, my prospective but AWOL agent, basically saying, “Are you still working with me on my novel, or do I need to look elsewhere, because crippling self-doubt is eating me alive.”

Feeling emboldened, I contacted the previous managing editor of BigWorldNetwork, Amanda Meuwissen, a very nice lady who I worked under for four years as an associate editor, asking if she would edit my manuscript. I was so touched by her emphatic reply that, yes, she would love to, and that she’d do it for free because I’d edited one of her books for free during my time at BWN. So that put me in a real good mood.

Suresh replied within an hour, apologising for the delay and no update. He said he would read my revised manuscript THAT WEEK and call me for a review. By this point I was just stunned. I’d been so prepared to be turned away. Like, so utterly convinced of rejection that I was a bit out-of-it and deranged for the rest of the night. Two great things within the hour? Inconceivable.

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Getting Published: part four

Last time I updated, I was scraping the barrel of misery in search of a writing epiphany, and I hadn’t met my deadline. The good news: I managed to finish my edits and hand in the new draft of my novel just before Christmas Eve. The bad news: silence.

My novel feels amazing. I feel like I’ve polished up a rusty sports car (no doubt I forgot to replace the bumper or something, but STILL). The villains are uncomfortable and crescendo nicely, the puzzle pieces of the plot click together, the final sentence feels right.

As soon as I sent it off, my prospective agent replied positively, saying he would probably get around to reading it in the first week of January. Whatever the case, he’d let me know when he started reading it. Finally, I could relax for a couple of weeks.

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Except, the first week of January rolled around…and I heard nothing. The second week came and went. Hesitantly, I sent an email asking when he’d assigned my novel to his reading schedule. He replied saying he’d not long returned from holiday, but he’d update me within the week to let me know.

He did not.

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Getting published: part three

I’m procrastinating by writing this post, let me just put that out there. Click here to read part one and part two.

I didn’t make the November 1st deadline. Once I figured out how to fix the big problems of my story, I worked day and night, every day, to meet the target. But hey, I do also have a life. For some reason I’d agreed to host a food party on October 31st. November 1st was also my cousin’s hen party (for whom I was maid of honour). A day later was the wedding. I also had to write a poem to perform during the service of said wedding. A day after that I was going to Norway. EVERYTHING AT ONCE.

I burnt out. I hadn’t had a chance to stop and reread any of my novel, aside from a fresh scene before moving onto the next. Consequently, I felt like I no longer even knew my novel anymore.

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Getting Published: part two

Belatedly following on from my last publishing post, about how I met an agent willing to give me and my novel a chance, it’s time I updated on what happened next.

So, after our feedback meeting, Suresh gave me a couple of big plot points and changes to think about:

  • Maybe cut a character (I’m thinking: I already cut one, aaah!)
  • Act One could be shorter
  • Your antagonists are blatantly villains, develop their motives
  • The world state of affairs is interesting: give us more

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