Monday, October 12, 2009

In an existential black hole

I was wondering if you might be able to offer some advice. I have recently completed my first work - a short work of fiction of about 80 000 words. I took the step of approaching someone who is the director of a small publishing house. This is what I received by way of feedback:

'I've had a quick look at the ms and, while it's very fluent and has some very interesting things to say, its fictional form would, I think, make sales too difficult to find for someone with as few marketing resources as I have. It would need the muscle of a better-resourced publisher.'

As I am new to 'the game', and understanding that without a personal contact with an appropriate (well-resourced) publisher, the ms is likely to sit on a 'slush pile' for years, my question is: where to from here?

Are you sure you realised what sort of blog this is? That an agent writes it? The question where to from here? suggests that you didn't, so now I'm in some kind of post-structuralist existential black hole - do I exist? Does my job exist? Arrrrghhhh. This is why I'm so slow at answering questions - I can't take the angst.

So I'll make it simple:

1. Personal contacts only get you so far, and most published writers don't have them. If the manuscript isn't any good, the contacts certainly won't help you get published and, in fact, may be wishing they didn't know you.

2. Agents help you avoid the slush pile - try submitting your manuscript to a few of them. (Of course, if I don't really exist - if agents aren't real - then my head just exploded while writing that.) And just so you know, agents don't count as 'personal contacts'.

3. If you don't want to try agents, there are several novel competitions around - your local writers centre would be able to advise you.

FYI: 80 000 words is not a short work of fiction. That's a slightly-longer-than-average work of fiction.

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