Saturday, 19 January 2008

Slushpile submissions

Slush and Cement
Originally uploaded by Dave Ward Photography

A great blog posting every aspiring author/emerging writer should read at 5th Estate. This writer, Daniel Clay, had more than 30 rejections from agents before he was taken up by Curtis Brown and his novel Broken is to be published this year.

Here are the salient points. (Read my blog and you need never read another)

He submitted the first 3 chapters. Some people submit any old 3 chapters. I'm with Daniel here. I think the continuity is important and anyway, if you're submitting your best three chapters, what is wrong that you need to chage on your first three chapters?

He checked in the Writers and Artists handbook that the agent dealt with the genre he was submitting. Well, Duh! Apparently hundreds don't and waste the postage and everyone's time.

His synopsis was more of a blurb. But I've read that agents want you to get all the way to the end so they know it has an end.

He didn't put anything else in the envelope other than the 3 chapters, covering letter and synopsis and an SAE. So no chocolate bribes or silky knickers.

He did multiple submissions. He always kept 3 out there.

Generously he includes the covering letter that finally did it for him. He puts the blurb in the letter and compares his style to Mark Haddon and Alice Sebold (which I've heard before is a no-no....)


Karen said...

Very interesting - and very encouraging too. Truly, the only guaranteed way to fail to be picked off the slush pile is to give up!

Daniel Clay said...

Hello, I'm Daniel Clay. Really glad you like the 5th Estate post as I'm much more into writing novels than I am articles! Re the Alice Sebold/Mark Haddon stuff, yes, I've heard that you're not meant to do it - I think it's one of those things where what one agent doesn't mind another will hate. I did it to hilight the potential size of the market and also to try and show that I was trying to write in a commercial fashion. Re my synopsis being a bit of a blurb rather than a synopsis and agents liking to know the ending, again, I've been at conferences where they've all said different things. I managed to get an agent interested once after forgetting to put the synopsis in (by mistake). I don't know. I think they make it up as they go along sometimes and only know what they really want went it's put in front of them (and even then, they sometimes miss it). Karen's right. The only way to guarantee not getting picked up is to give up. Good luck. Got my fingers crossed your submissions work out for you.

Best wishes,


Emerging Writer said...

Hi Daniel, Thanks for dropping by. It's nice to know the rules are more guidelines than anything else and the best way seem to be
- keep submitting
- write really really well
- be individual
- or shag someone famous (did you try that?!)

Daniel Clay said...

No! I never tried to sleep with anyone famous!! I wish I'd thought of it. It would have saved ne a fortune in postage, and I could have put all those rejections down to sub-standard sexual performances rather than wondering if there was something up with my writing... being bad in bed I can cope with, but my writing really matters to me.