This time last year I was about to submit my novel for the first time. What a feeling, this incredible soap bubble of delicate hope, tipped off by nerves and just a little anguish. After all, at least one of the agents would turn me down and I had no idea how I would take the rejection.
But I only needed one, just one person to say yes.
And then they all said no.
So a year on I find myself in a strangely familiar place. Soon I will be sending my submission off to the big bad world of literary agents. It got me thinking, what has changed since the last time?
Nothing, in terms of the world of publishing, but everything in terms of my outlook. I thought I would share some of these little nuggets in case any of you are about to embark on the wonderful journey of novel writing.
- Rejection sucks balls. BUT it is not the end of the world. Yes, I cried often and some of them were brutal, but who cares? Not everyone is going to like what I write, just as I do not like everything I read but that doesn’t stop me from reading, and rejections will not stop me from writing.
- Be aware of the reader experience. I have learnt a lot about this over the last year, particularly making the text as reader-friendly as possible whether that means upping the pace of a scene, spending more time on characterisation or simply subbing back on the narrative. Write for yourself; re-write for your reader.
- Be realistic. I’m aware that just because I feel ready (nearly) to submit my novel does not mean that it will be picked up. It may take another year of rewrites, another two years, who knows? I am also (rather painfully) aware that this may not be this novel that gets published at all. It may be my next one, or my tenth.
Above all I have learnt to be resilient and to persevere, to keep working and re-writing, to keep seeking advice and criticism from wherever I can and that is why I have kept the most important lesson I’ve learnt until last.
4. Never give up.