Thursday, 11 June 2015

When Shelley Met Sally... Working with an Agent.

Submitting manuscripts is an exciting business, it’s proof that you've got the stamina to write and finish a book, plus it is validation that you are trying to do something further; share your story with the world. But submitting is also an emotional roller-coaster, the highs of full manuscript requests, and the lows of rejections. I’ve ridden this roller-coaster on numerous occasions (in fact never got off, as the submitting process is perpetual) but last autumn, something strange happened, I was offered representation by an agent.

Much jubilation and trepidation was experienced as I prepared to meet the agent; will they understand what I’m trying to achieve with my book? Will they like me? Will they think I’m someone they can invest in? Will I like them? Will I be able to trust them enough to let them guide me through the next stage of my writing career? What to wear?

So the day drew near, and stress piled on as all the trains were delayed due to ‘leaves on track’, and then I did a tour of central London as I took a wrong turn and got horribly lost. Eventually I managed to find Foyles, and get to the new café to meet the Agent. I needn’t have worried. The agent as it turns out was not some kind of monster who sleeps on the shushpile and snacks on writers, but an actual person, a rather lovely person called Shelley Instone.

Shelley put me straight at ease (aided by writers’ stable diet of coffee and cake) and said many lovely things about my writing; she ‘got’ my book. She totally understood what the book was about, and as having studied classics, she appreciated the intertextual motifs woven in to the duel-narrative plot. I was further impressed by the fact that she mentioned some of the authors whose work had influenced the book. Shelley’s enthusiasm was infectious, and we were soon in the throngs of conversation of what work needed to be done to take the book the next stage and ready it for submission. I had the confidence that with Shelley’s guidance that my book could really improve.

Feeling invigorated and ready to delve back into my own make-believe world, I signed with Shelley and we began the editing journey. The editing has been extensive, the nuts and bolts of the book have remained, plus the aim, themes, and the fairy tale narrative has been hardly touched. However the main body of the text has been overhauled, two characters have been written, and the word count has been cut by 30,000 words, but the biggest change has been changing it from YA to MG. 

So far we've done four edits, the first was actually taking away everything that wasn’t working then re-writing for middle grade readers followed by lots of planning, re-plotting, and rewriting. Every subsequent edit has focused one specific things. Until the edits come down, to smaller issues like the over uses of certain words. in my case too much SHUDDER.

The main difference between editing when you have an agent is the confidence that someone who is much more experienced than you believes that the changes are going to strengthen the manuscript, thereby elevating any concerns about the amount of work it may be. The editing has also been a creative endeavour, with many new plot twists or re-envisioning of characters and situations which has meant that the journey has been a fun one with many discoveries.

Editing and writing with an Shelley has been hard work, but fun, and it is a fantastic feeling knowing that someone else is as passionate and invested in your book as you are.


  1. How wonderful - sounds like a magical journey! It must be amazing to witness the transformation in your ms. Congratulations and well done for the hard work.

    1. Thank you for stopping by. Yes It's been hard work but it's been very rewarding.

  2. Sounds fantastic and I wish you the very best with your manuscript. I can't wait to see your book in a bookstore!

    1. Thanks Candy, fingers crossed that you see it in a bookshop shelf soon (ish!)