Inside the Fiction Factory – Part 3

Keep on keeping on

Another piece of writing advice you may come across is to keep going; don’t stop writing; don’t give up. Easy advice to give, but a lot harder to carry out in practice. As I have noted elsewhere, by the time I was offered a publishing contract, I had written twelve novels. The Kill Chain was my eleventh. My first novel submission was back in 2011, I had several full manuscript requests for the five novels I chose to submit in subsequent years and I received an offer in February 2022. I suppose I’m a good example of someone who took the advice on board and chose to keep on keeping on. Like the advice, this is easy for me to say, but it was harder to implement.

Unfortunately there is no magic formula. If there was we would all be using it successfully. I wanted to write, so I did and I continued with that mindset until it became part of who I am and what I do. Of course I have self-doubt and days when I feel what I write is nonsense, but I keep showing up every morning and writing something, making effort to make some progress no matter how small.

If you are going to write and query, you are going to receive rejections. Yes, that’s tough, but do not lose sight of the fact that there is a real person like you having to send back the reply. (I appreciate there are sometimes automated systems in place, and there is nothing you can do with these other than move on). You can’t control that so don’t stress over it. What I did was to send a reply back thanking them for their time in reading and replying and for any feedback they may have offered, and finishing with saying I would submit again next year and wishing them all the best with future signings. Don’t be angry, be positive. I found replying to a rejection in a positive manner allowed me to file it and move on. There were occasions when the agent or publisher replied back thanking me for my email and even provided further feedback. As I said, these are people you are engaging with. Agents and publishers don’t like saying no, but it’s part of their role. It’s no fun for anyone involved, but it’s part of the journey towards publication. Rejections show you are trying and almost no one has ever been accepted on first try. Dozens if not hundreds of rejections is more typical of the experience.

So, write when you can. I do early mornings and that suits me fine. A couple of hours and I’m done with the actual writing. The rest of the day I’m thinking about what I’ve written and what comes next and jotting down ideas so I don’t lose them. I have a routine, but I don’t stress if I miss a day. It’s no big deal. Work on your submission until it’s as good as you can make it. Make sure it’s short and to the point and gives the agent or publisher a good idea of what you and the book are about. I started receiving full requests after reading ‘How to perfect your submission’ by Scott Pack. I would recommend this. I’m confident it helped me write a better pitch. Be positive when dealing with rejections, because if you query you are going to receive them, so best be prepared to handle them. Finally, I fully expect to write nonsense when I start, but it’s my nonsense and I can edit that and make it better in subsequent days. I find there’s no mileage in sitting for ages trying to find the words I know I have, but can’t quite get them down on the page. I just move on to the next sentence or paragraph and keep writing. I can always go back later and start to work up what I have.

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