Tag Archives: agent

Take the Reigns

It’s funny how you can be inspired by the most random of things …

As I’ve said time and time again, I write, and am inspired, by making connections.  Drawing the lines between dots I handpick from life.

And I guess a couple of the lines this week have given me a kick-start to revisit my first book.

‘Flicker’, which some of you may have read samples of on the blog, is my first novel, a teenage fantasy book about an orphaned girl setting off on her gap year travels.  After several edits of the book, my agent submitted it to a around ten publishers this time last year, unfortunately to no avail.  After a few months, the book was shelved, and my second book ‘The Dream Navigator’ was made publisher-ready, and then did the rounds.

And that, a year on, is where I’m at.  Having edited and re-edited two different books for publisher submission, I’ve then had to pass on the baton to my agent, and wait for the news to roll in.

As any of you in the same situation will know, whilst it’s a necessary part of the process, it can be rather frustrating!  And at first, whilst the frustration of not hearing anything back from ‘Flicker’ lead me to pile all my energy into ‘The Dream Navigator’, a year on, no matter my best intentions, I’m finding it far too easy to sit on my hands, and make excuses.

If I’m completely honest, it’s very hard to finish another book, knowing nothing so far has come of the others.  When I think of the hours I spent on the other two books, I feel drained, and back in the real world (I wrote the books whilst travelling) I feel too tired from everyday work to sit back in front of the computer at the end of the day, when I haven’t seen any return for all the other work.

But this is an attitude which needs to stop.  If I’m to become an author – a real, bonafide, published author – then I need to get my head back in the game.  And whilst the ball is heavily still in my agent’s court, that doesn’t mean I can’t be doing something to help.

I think what I’ve been doing wrong is trying to push forward with all the other ideas I’ve had since Flicker, when instead, there is something there in that story – there must have been to have got noticed in the first place – I just need to polish it!

So where has this change of heart sprung from? What were the dots that joined together to lead to that conclusion?

Last week I saw a friend I haven’t seen since I left to go travelling, and it turns out he reads my blog, and, despite being a 30 year old man … he read, AND LOVED!!! … the excerpts of Flicker which I put up on it!!  I guess hearing his enthusiasm for the book reminded me how enthusiastic I had once been about the story.

Then last night, I was at a friend’s birthday drinks, and it turned out a number of his friends had heard that I was aspiring author.  When, in turn, they asked me how it was going, I shrugged, disheartened, and said the same thing over and over again ‘it’s in the hands of my agent … I’m not really doing much at the moment … I work for a bank …’

And I listened to myself, and thought, if you’d asked 14 year-old me what I wanted to do at 28, the last thing I would have said was ‘work for a bank’.  I wanted to be an author … so badly that I sent a shell of a story off to a publisher, and received my first mass mailshot rejection letter!!  And you know what, I STILL want to be an author … so why the hell have I stopped working for it??

And then finally, this afternoon I sat down to watch the film ‘Chalet Girl’.  Of all the ‘inspirations’ this is probably the most off the wall and silly … but bare with me 🙂

So ‘Chalet Girl’ is a teenage British chick flick – the story of a girl who goes to the Austrian alps, falls in love with a hot posh guy and becomes a snowboard champ – total cheese … but I’ve always loved cheesy tv 🙂 Now, if anything, I was expecting to finish the film and simply be dying to head back to Whistler … and don’t get me wrong, after 2 winters as a seasonaire it was impossible not to watch the film and yearn for snow … but there was a stronger compulsion that came from the film, and that was to revisit Flicker.  Because years ago, when I day-dreamed about Flicker as a book, I put actors faces to some of the characters, imagining what it might be like to see my book on the big screen.  And in that day dream, Ed Westwick was Daniel DeSilva, to Felicity Jones’s ‘Flic Firstone’ – the two young British actors starring opposite one another in Chalet Girl.

And I guess I don’t want that daydream to die.  I want Flicker to still be an option.  I want it to become a name synonymous with a book, not just a horse and an online photo sharing site!  I want to be an author.  I want to be a scriptwriter.  I want to see books on shelves, with my name on the spine, and films and tv on the screen, underpinned by stories I’ve written.  And I’m not gonna achieve that by sitting on my hands!  I’m gonna do it by gritting my teeth, peeling the plaster off, and looking at a text I haven’t looked at for a year, because no matter how much I don’t want to acknowledge it, it is ‘damaged’ in some way … it’s not finished … and the only way someone is going to love it enough to publish it, is if I can fix it …

This is my challenge.  This is my part of the baton-passing process ….

To make my manuscript as kick-ass brilliant as I possibly can, so that next time my agent submits it to publishers, someone snaps it up 🙂

C-C xx

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Filed under C-C Lester, Flicker, Unsigned Author Commentary, Writing

No Right of Reply

Before I became a wannabe-author, I was a wannabe-lawyer.  Or rather, I was a law student.  And the reason I became a law student is because I like to argue!  I enjoy a right to reply.  The idea that one person’s opinion might not be the only answer.

And then I became an unpublished author and realised I had no right to reply!

Because my career, my future and my life-plan currently sit in the hands of a selection of faceless editors.  (I say faceless, but nowadays, thanks to LinkedIn and Google, it’s pretty easy to add faces to the names!)  And those editors are unassailable.  THEIR WORD is the law!

These days any book chosen by an editor for their label will become his or her personal project.  He or she will take on your story, and decide how it needs to be edited.  He or she will be responsible for packaging your story as a gift for the reading world.  And so it is essential that he or she likes.  More than that.  He, or she, needs to LOVE IT!

And the obvious problem with that is that liking or even loving something, is subjective.  One person’s decision whether he loves or hates your work … and all the options in between.

These days authors tend not to submit their own work to editors.  Agents act as a middle-man, sifting through the submissions and selecting the ones they deem ‘publisher-worthy’.  After agent-led redrafts, the agent then submits the book to publishers he or she has handpicked (in the same way the author originally submits his manuscript to agents that he or she has handpicked.

So, with this extra level of selection and direction, you’d think that your work is being sent to people who will generally appreciate it.  However, unfortunately, as I’m gradually learning – one rejection at a time, that’s not always the case!

This week I’ve had a particularly bad week – the lowest point being realising I’d written the wrong date down for the Glee concert I bought tickets to, and only realising on the day I thought I was going (the day after the day I had tickets for! DOH!).  So maybe the rejections I received this week weren’t any harsher than the other 8 I’ve received over the past 7 months … but they definitely stung more than normal.  One rejection questioned the ‘strength’ of my writing, whilst the other one found my main character difficult to ‘truly engage’ with my main character.

Obviously those are both opinions.  Subjective analysis.  And completely different analysis to any of the others I’ve received.  Because everyone’s opinion is obviously different.  (And also, less professionally, because apparently some editors send out set rejection responses!)

But the problem I find every time I get one of these rejections, is they kick up the inner lawyer inside me!  I want to DEFEND myself!  I want to DEFEND my writing!

No one likes rejection!  How many of you have been dumped at some point in your life, and itched for the urge to answer back?  To give your side of the story?  To tell your ex their reasons for ending the relationship were wrong!

The obvious problem with this is that feelings are subjectives.  Your feelings can’t be wrong, because they are your feelings.  They are personal to you.  Completely subjective.  And likewise, the reasons why someone rejects your book are subjective.  They’re not wrong.  They’re just how he or she feels.  The editor’s personal feelings.  It’s not a point for debate.  And as such you get no right of reply.

Which is particularly annoying in this day and age, when you can type in a name and a company into Google and very easily arrive at an email address.  A way to actually reply!

Not that being a sane, aspiring author, you ever would, obviously!

But I guess you can always dream 🙂

And so I guess, getting rejected by a publisher is just one of those situations where you have to take the other option to arguing your case.  Taking the moral upper hand.  And to take that upper hand, you keep your mouth shut, and show them you’re wrong NOT with a ranting email highlighting all the reasons why they’re wrong, but by holding your head up high and trying extra hard with everything else you write, so that one day you’ll be the ‘J.K. Rowling story’.  The writer sticking two metaphorical fingers up at all of the editors who have criticised her work and told her she’d never make it as a writer 😉

C-C xxx

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Filed under C-C Lester, Unsigned Author Commentary, Writing