So it's seven weeks today that I finished the first draft to my novel. I've been trying to hold back from editing as long as possible in order that I can get the best perspective on it but I am not sure that I can hold out much longer. In the meantime, I've made some preparations:
1. I've studied all the literary agents. That was pretty disheartening as there's no one really looking for comedy, other than the coffee-table Christmas book type. I get the impression that subtle humour - the type that could pass unnoticed without detriment if you didn't get the joke - is about as much as will be tolerated.This has really confirmed an idea that was growing whilst I was writing my novel that it might actually work better as a screenplay as it has very visual aspects to it. That's something to think about in the long term. So it's been tough trying to make a list of possible agents but I've now, at last, settled on my first choice and written a covering letter. I think I'll start with one and then send out a further submission every two weeks.
2. I've written a synopsis. Like the cover letter, it was a tricky business. I read several of publishing guru Nicola Morgan's books to help crystallise my ideas. Nicola writes in a very contemporary and engaging way. I recommend her books if you want simple and effective writing advice.
3. I've created a new webpage The Changing Room: A novel attached to this site which will go live when I send off my first submission.
4. I've joined Readwave and started to upload my stories. This is useful for feedback to help me improve my writing and to see if others enjoy it. Hopefully, it will also enable any potential interested parties to get an overall feel for my writing and consider more seriously whether I could serve up more than one book - which seems to be quite a concern when taking on début authors.
5. I've weighed up the pros and cons between self-publishing and traditional-publishing. I am not adverse to self-publishing which has some distinct advantages in that the writer remains fully in control and receives a far greater amount in royalties than traditional publishers. To the this extent, I am prepared to go it alone if I can't find someone to publish my novel within a reasonable time frame but first I will try the normal route mainly as I don't want to do it alone and thought of having to organise everything myself bores me rigid. Hopefully, the agent/publisher would do a lot of that organisation - I mean, other than an agent getting you a contract for which they take 15-20% and a publisher delivering the printed word whilst taking a whole lot more I would hope they would be doing some of the promotional stuff. If not, I'd want to know why not.
6. Social networking. Well I've done very little about this. Truthfully, I'm not sure how much difference it will make and I don't think it's likely to increase your sales that much beyond friends and family unless you devote yourself to extreme measures. Besides, I'm not very good at marketing myself for altruistic purposes: I just like having fun and making friends because either I like people or they have something interesting to say. To this extent I think there's probably more luck involved in achieving recognition at writing rather than skill or how many "friends" you have in your Google circles or on Facebook. Sure, a good book with great writing and a strong plot and lots of Facebook friends will increase your chances and make agents more amenable to you but, let's face it, there are some books which have had enormous success which are, by any standards, poorly written and have just gone viral because they've captured the public interest. I think I will be happy to publish a book that people enjoy. I've already ignored almost all the advice I've been given so as far as The Changing Room is concerned I've already put world wide literary domination on the back burner.
7) So then there's Twitter . It's a subject on its own really. I can already hear every potential agent saying "But you must be on Twitter!" Yeah, I know and I suspect I would be quite good at reeling off the one-liners but there's also a part of me that says "Ugh." So much time and finger pressing. I could be writing a story. I suspect reluctantly I'll have to do it some time. But not just yet.
8) I've sourced a professional editor. But I have't sent my novel off just yet. Something is niggling me. It's the humour thing again. I could spend a lot of money (around £500) and get back the usual negatives. I need an editor who sees my vision but I'm not absolutely sure I can find one because I write outside a clearly defined genre and I write comedy. That doesn't sit well with a lot of literary types. I actually feel my novel will appeal to a lot of "ordinary" people; those who don't necessarily read a lot but know when they find something something funny. Perhaps to this extent I will be my own best editor and it's worth chancing my hand with agents without using a professional editor first.
So, Readers, is there anything else I should consider? Any opinions? Feel free to jump out of the woodwork and leave a comment. I'm happy to listen to any advice and observations...