Sunday, 16 February 2020

Query And Be Damned

Hello dear readers!

Every now and then we reach a crossroad in our lives. There comes a time when a decision needs to be made, one which might, perhaps, leave us feeling a little less secure, and a little more vulnerable to the vagaries of fate, and the opinions of others.

Of course, being a crossroads, this decision doesn't necessarily have to be made. It can be left for the future. Put off to tomorrow, or tomorrow's tomorrow, or maybe the day after that. A left turn can be made, and a detour taken that will delay such uncomfortable scrutiny. To stretch the analogy well beyond breaking point, two lefts, a sharp right, and six trips around a roundabout can be taken.

At some point, however, in order to move forward, one must... move forward. A route must be plotted straight through the intersection, to the land of the less sure.

This week, I'm headed straight there.

Chapter And Verse
Those of you who have had the dubious pleasure of following this blog may recall that this is not the only writing I indulge in. I have in fact written something which may, one day, resemble a book. The ongoing struggle with this mighty feat was mentioned in this post a few months ago.

Since then, thanks, in part, to the troublesome autumnal months I mentioned last week, there has been a stunning lack of activity in my quest to become an actual author. The manuscript has stayed firmly on the hard drive of my computer, apart from a brief sojourn to a flash drive while the machine was in the shop.

The next stage is to actually start to contact literary agents and publishers, and invite them to have a read of said manuscript. Upon doing so, they will, in an ideal world, immediately fall in love with it and offer me oodles of cash, and a place on the bookshelves of the nation.

Yeah, you're right. It might be a bit of a reach.

Between The Lines
Regardless, it remains a personal ambition to have a book published, and to have other people read it. The drawback to this is it unfortunately means other people will have to read it.

No, you don't need to read that again, and no, it doesn't make one jot of sense, but it is the sticking point which has led to the present state of inaction. I (and I believe I'm not alone in this) find the act of writing to be incredible personal. It is the act of setting down, in black and white, the innermost thoughts rattling around one's mind. It is the act of baring one's soul, of telling people how, and of what you think. All of which goes to explain the strange, vulnerable, feeling that fills me when I contemplate giving it to people whose job is to judge it, and my seeming reluctance to do so.

This week, however, I'm going to ask my wife, Tina, to prepare my big boy pants, and tear that particular piece of Elastoplast off.

Five By Five
With the help of some rather wonderful people on a Twitter writing group who have offered me unending support, and one of whom has helped me knock a query letter and synopsis into shape, I intend to put together an initial list of five literary agents, and fire off the aforementioned invitations to give the book a look-see. I will then wait patiently for the expected rejections to plop onto the mat (the first of which I may frame, hey it's a landmark!), before repeating the process... And repeating it... and repeating.

Tina will undoubtedly offer her undying support should the above turn out to go on for a while (as Tina does), but I am going into this process with my eyes open, and my expectations set on the low side. It takes a lot to get published these days, far more than a well written book with a crack-along plot, and well realised characters. No, the book also needs to be something the agents, and then the publishers, can sell. It need to fit the market. To be on trend. If it isn't, then no matter how well written, it's time may not be now.

Hate Expectations
I'm not being a Negative Nelly here, but I think it does pay to set expectations on the low side and accept any bonuses life may supply. It's an approach which will save much frustration, a fair bit of mooching about, and hopefully save Tina from doing me actual bodily harm in order to stop me moaning.

However the bookmark may fall, the important thing is to kick things off. The ball must be set in motion, and in order to do that the first email, or letter must be sent. Hopefully, next week, I will be able to report back on five such communications, and, you never know, perhaps a request for a full or partial manuscript

Until next time...

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