Posted by on Feb 27, 2007 in agents, novels, waiting. | 8 Comments

What it’s like when your manuscript is ‘with’ an agent …

It won’t get there. It will arrive all torn up with pages missing. I left a line out of the address. I addressed it to the wrong person. The counter person got the postage wrong and it will take three months to arrive. I shouldn’t have sent it first class – it looks too eager.

Then the acknowledgement of receipt arrives

I should have taken a week to read it again. I shouldn’t have sent it in the first place, because it doesn’t match my pitch letter and they are going to think I don’t know what I’m doing. It’s too long. It’s too short. I should have put back in the two chapters I took out. I should have taken out another 4,000 words.

The first Harry Potter book is reported to have been rejected by fourteen publishers

My central character is simply me, thinly disguised, and the agent’s reader will laugh at me. My central character is unrealistic because she’s not based on anybody real. My antagonists are made of cardboard. My antagonists are my family and friends and they will hate me. My dialogue is terrible. My central premise stinks.

Stephen King’s novel Carrie was rejected thirty times before being published

It’s definitely too long. Although I should have had the courage of my convictions and stuck to the original length, which was even longer. It’s just like another book somebody told me about so they won’t publish it. It’s nothing like anything I’ve read recently so it’s unmarketable. It’s set in the wrong place. The ending is weak. The ending is histrionic. The ending sucks.

After 743 rejection slips, John Creasey went on to have over 500 mystery novels published

My opening chapter is horrible. My final chapter is feeble. The whole narrative sags in the middle. Nobody wants to read that kind of thing. I should have sent it out under my initials like JK Rowling. I shouldn’t have sent it out at all.

Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingstone Seagull garnered over 140 rejections before publication

I want to die.

And then you go and get on with your day, like everybody else, and nobody would know you’re a writer whose novel is ‘with’ an agent.


  1. Tribeless
    27th February 2007

    Nah. I’m sure it’s not as bad as you think.

    I know it’s not 🙂


    (Oh, re inspiration, below, Pauline (my wife) has been really getting into aural stimulation to produce very slow delta and theta brain waves as a spur to creativity and imspiration. I thought it, initially, a lot of mumbo jumbo, but I’ve read the science, and it is science, and listened to one of the tapes she has to induce these states, and I have to admit there may be something in it.

    This intrepid reporter will do a follow up on more study.

  2. Anonymous
    27th February 2007

    Hilarious, good to know you go through those stages of self doubt too or the broadcasts from “Radio FCKD” as Anne Lamott calls it.

    Anna x

    PS> Will check back for any more insights into aural stimulation. Intriguing.

  3. Anna
    27th February 2007

    Oh God, you mean it’s never going to get any better?

  4. TitaniaWrites
    27th February 2007

    I have to tell you that this is one of the greatest blog posts I have ever read. It was like a roller coaster ride! I know every feeling you described, and having those quotes about rejections made me feel instantly better, and then you took us down again, and then up! Thank you for expressing how we all feel….and good luck with the agent.

  5. Kay Sexton
    27th February 2007

    Brainwave research is very interesting indeed, Mark. I once used a little gizmo when I was teaching yoga that shows how people’s pulse rate drops during deep relaxation. It revealed that when the pulse was slowest, people began to have daydreams … and daydreams are the precursor of creative thought.

    Anna, not it doesn’t seem to get any better – and the multiple-published novelists I know confirm that ‘with agent’ horror persists in them too. Something to learn to live with, I fear.

    Tania, thank you, and thank you!

  6. Linera Lucas
    28th February 2007

    Yup. The torture never stops. And you write about it so deliciously!

  7. Kay Sexton
    28th February 2007

    Nice to see you here Linera, and thanks for agreeing …!

  8. B.A. Goodjohn
    3rd March 2007

    Man, isn’t that the truth? I worry everyone will find out I’m a fraud every time I submit something.


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