Wrestling with elastic bands, the disappointing thud on the doormat of a returned manuscript and that: ‘From Pitch to Publication’ plug shamelessly inserted into agent Carole Blake’s rejection letters.
For me all the above sum up the self-flagellatory process that typifies the book submissions’ process.
It’s been a while since I’ve done this – in fact it’s been nearly eight years. I recall the routine the first time round. It was gruelling and exhausting. It did eventually involve me being signed up to an agency and riding that rollercoaster of false hope. It ended without a book deal and the realisation that if I wanted to pay my mortgage and raise a family then I’d better put aside such a foolish dream.
Nonetheless, I made a promise to myself – once the kids were old enough and I had a little more time, I would write fiction again. It’s a pledge that I’ve kept and it’s been every bit as enjoyable and fulfilling as the first time I set pen to paper.
Last week, I decided I was finally ready to seek out an agent. So I bought a copy of the Writers and Artists’ Yearbook and read the advice section convinced that in this digital age, there would be differences of which I should be cognisant.
But to my shock, nothing had changed. I assumed that in the years that had passed, agents would not only accept emailed submissions but would insist upon this (it’s environmentally the right thing to do). I was wrong. When it comes to adult fiction, agents still, for the most part, request postal submissions.
Even the guidance was the same: lots of stuff about proper elastic band usage, correctly spelling the agent’s name and not playing fast and loose with font selection (Wingdings being an obvious no-no).
It is as though time has stood still. Everything is as it ever was. My only hope this time, is that the outcome, at the very least, will be different.
Jo Carlowe is a freelance journalist writing features on health, psychology and lifestyle. She is working on her novel: ‘Fly-By’ – a contemporary adventure love-story. www.jocarlowe.com