Claire King

Author
Claire King b&w - Jonathan Ring 800px

Posts Tagged ‘Submissions’

Literary Agent Responses – How long is normal?

Posted on: June 29th, 2011 by Claire - 40 Comments

This week I had a response from a literary agent to a submission I sent out 8 months ago (and withdrew 8 months minus one week ago). It was a slightly surreal reminder of the submissions process (and for information, it was a rejection)…

Rainbow in a meadow

Hope?

When I was submitting I kept an excel spreadsheet of my submission dates, to whom I submitted, the initial response time etc and I thought it might be time to share. This was my process for finding an agent:

1) Look in the Writers and Artists Yearbook for agents that handle literary fiction, accept unsolicited submissions and were currently open to submissions from new authors.

2) Consider which authors my writing is similar to, and find out who represents them.

3) Draw up a long list of agencies, then check out their websites, google them and see where they have turned up on the web, what novels they have sold, articles they have written, etc etc.

4) Draw up a shortlist of 20, take a deep breath, start sending out queries in batches of four or five.

5) Wait

I don’t know if that’s a good process or not, but it felt right to me.

In the end I submitted to eleven agents before signing with an agent in early November. Of those agents, six hadn’t yet responded, so I wrote to them, and e-mailed, to withdraw my manuscript.

Of those six, three replied by email the same day, to say thank you for letting them know, congratulations and good luck. The three that replied had variously had my submission for 3 months, 6 weeks and 1 week.

Of the remaining three, one never replied. One responded to my original submission in January this year and one replied to my original submission this week, after having had the submission for 8 months!

Is 8 months normal for a response?

For those of you who have work out on submission at the moment, how long do you consider is reasonable for a response? What does an eight-month high slush pile even look like?

In other stats – for the five agents who responded to my initial submission:
One replied after a month to say their slushpile was too big and they had stopped accepting submissions.
Two rejected – One after two weeks, one after three weeks.
Two requested full – both requests arrived 6 days after I posted the query + 3 chapters (from France to the UK). And then pretty fast turnarounds for the fulls – two weeks for one agent and four days for the other…resulting in The Call.

Getting a rejection from an agent saying this: “With such a full list of clients, it is rare that we are able to take on new authors – and then only with material we are extremely confident of placing with a publisher.  Regretfully, we do not feel that your work fits into that category.” several months after my novel sold to Bloomsbury doesn’t have the sting to that it would if I were still looking for an agent. But it’s a sharp reminder that this industry is so incredibly risk averse and subjective.

Wishing all of you slush-pile warriors courage and the best of luck.

 

Pub/Lit Roundup (2)

Posted on: March 19th, 2011 by Claire - 7 Comments

Here are my top 20 finds of the last month:

Literary Agents and Publishing

Are you on submission? Then exercise discretion on your blog – Literaticat

The 99 cent Kindle novel Perceived value and consumer choices by Nathan Bransford

Bloomsbury predict 2011 e-book sales will be ‘off the scale’ – London Book Fair article

The agency model for selling ebooks – unfair and illegal? Guardian article

A breakdown of marketing activities for a debut self-pub book launch by Joanna Penn

Self-publishing is hard work – Interview with Derek Haines

An interview with literary scout Louise Allen-Jones by Gemma Noon

The publishing pieMargaret Atwood talk, and here being interviewed afterwards – The author as a dead moose

How to write a query letter by Bubble Cow

*

Craft/Writing

Checklist of 17 questions for your novel by Emma Darwin

The Training-Wheels Novel (some novels are just a warm up) by Nichole Bernier

You totally want to be a writer – Somewhat profane pep talk by Chuck Wendig

100 things about writing a novel – by Alexander Chee

We cannot create a fiction from a fiction – emotional structure in writing by Peter Dunne

Seven questions you should ask a writer by Richard Dansky

Inspiration vs. Determination by K.M. Weiland

*

Writing Competitions

How to win a short story competition – Sarah Dobbs and Sarah Hilary

The BBC National Short Story Award

*

Cool Stuff

How ink is made by Peter Welfare

*

Literature

National Book Critics award – Female author wins, Male loser gets the publicity. – MOBYLIVES article

The Other Side of the Fence

Posted on: March 2nd, 2011 by Claire - 11 Comments

I find myself sitting on the other side of the fence. Rather than writing and submitting my own fiction, today I’m reading short story submissions for The View From Here literary magazine, where I am now Fiction Editor.

This is a recent development, and making the shift of perspective has not been easy. I now have an inbox full of submissions and more coming in each day. I need to read each story carefully, and then choose around three per month to be published in the magazine.

The first week I read slowly. Wanting to be certain of my decisions, I agonised over each piece and often went back to re-read them, to see if this time I’d ‘get’ them more than on the first reading. Meanwhile the backlog of submissions continued mounting up. Needing a confidence booster I went back and re-read this blog post from Tania Hershman, who single-handedly read and judged 849 stories in two months. Tania’s concluding advice to writers is “Write what you want to write, and don’t be disheartened (if your story doesn’t make it) – send it out again”

Just keep swimming.

There’s the thing. Having a story rejected from a literary journal or a competition is not like getting a bad mark at school. Rejection doesn’t necessarily mean your work isn’t brilliant. As someone making the decisions on which pieces to publish, I had to remind myself of this, because we receive, quite simply, many more great stories than we have space for.  I also went back to read this blog post by Nik Perring where he makes the very same point – even really excellent stories get rejected.

So how do I choose? The truth is that in the pieces that I’ve selected for publication, there’s something about the voice that grabs me from the first paragraph. Something vibrant, something new. These are the pieces that, if I’d read them in a book, I’d be calling my friends to say ‘hey, you must buy this.’ And I’m starting to realise that I simply know this when I see it. So the reading process is getting faster. I still don’t like sending out a rejection, but for many I have confidence that if they are sent back out into the world they will surely find an editor for whom the story resonates.

On the subject of rejection, I’m using a standard rejection. I’m sorry, really I am, because I would love to write personalised notes of thanks and perhaps explanations to each writer. But unfortunately there aren’t enough minutes in the day. This is something I am doing out of a passion for good writing. It’s not paying the bills, contributing to the family or advancing my own writing. So whilst I take the time to read each story properly, I’m opting to save time on the responses.

If you have found this page because you received a rejection from me and wondered why, I hope this helps. And you are always welcome to contact me for more information.

PS: Here is another interesting piece on editing a literary magazine.

PPS: If you would like to submit your fabulous short fiction (up to 5000 words) for consideration, the flavour of the publication is “Bohemian Eclectic”… read more about that and the submission guidelines here.

It is never the right time.

Posted on: August 7th, 2010 by Claire - 12 Comments

I have come to a conclusion over the course of this year which doubtless has been reached by many others who have gone before me. I will say it again anyway because sometimes, Oh my Best Beloved, a thing has to be repeated to Sink In.

It is never the right time.

It’s never the right time to write, never the right time to edit, never the right time to concentrate, never the right time to start the long process of submitting your work.

There is a conspiracy amongst inanimate objects and just about everyone else in the world to provide valid excuses to you, The Writer, for why you are have not yet completed and submitted your manuscript.

Here are some of my favourites: school holidays, work obligations, making time to be a good wife, keeping the house clean to a bare and sanitary minimum, friends and family, tax returns…

If you let them they will tell you that now is just not the right time. Tonight will be easier, or first thing in the morning. When the kids have started school. In autumn, when the nights are longer and they will sleep better. After Christmas, once all of the shopping and partying is over with. New Year – a perfect resolution. OK, before you turn 40, there’s a good goal. Maybe when the market picks up?

I could wait another six months, another six years, tweaking and prevaricating.

No! That’s not for me! Somehow I’ll escape all that waiting and staying. I’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing…

The right time is now. My synopsis may be missing an apostrophe, my query letter may not be italicised where it should be, but a first time novelist has to write. And she has to do her best – accepting it may not be perfect – and then put herself out there. And there will be someone who will see her submission for what it is.

This is what I hope.

Bon voyage, novel, you’ll move mountains.

Archives

Feeds