Thursday, 13 August 2015

Preparing for Submission with an Agent.

It’s coming up a year since I signed with my Agent, Shelley director of Shelley Instone Literary Agency. It’s been a manic but fantastic year, both personally and for my writing. The year has seen a house move, a new business venture sent up, a new job for me, my daughter’s last year at primary and now by son is readying up to take the dreaded 11+! Writing wise my manuscript has evolved from YA to MG, from 80,000 words down to 40,000, and then back up to 54,000, over no less than ten edits. Now, Shelley and I are both gearing up to submit it in the autumn.

I have submitted before, to both agents and publishers, and that took a lot of preparation; making sure the manuscript was as good as I could get it. Writing and re-writing my query letter. Polishing my hook and pitch. Writing the dreaded synopsis and then trying to crow bar it on to one page of A4 with tiny margins and hoping no one will notice the tiny font and crammed spacing! Then the actual submitting, researching agents and editors, trying to work out a personal way to open the query letter; consulting my spread sheet of professionals I’ve met, the when and where, or the review of their client list making sure I reference which author on the list I admire and why I think my book may appeal to them. This takes considerable time for each submission, not to mention researching what every person requires in their submission package and tailoring it appropriately.

Of course having an agent means that I’m not doing all the submission packages myself, but that doesn’t mean that I can sit back and drink coffee. No, preparing for submission is still a finely tuned operation, but this time it comes with a team!

The manuscript is presently being proofread to eliminate all my dyslexia associated mistakes, and behind the scenes, Shelley and her assistant, Olivia Payne, are working really hard doing all the amazing agenty things they do.

When Sally submitted to me I instantly liked her style of writing alongside her immense creative ability. It did not take me long (a few seconds!) to offer her representation. I immediately had a vision for her novel and knew how I wanted to shape and mould it. When you sign a writer you are investing in them and their narrative. In many respects it is a huge gamble, as you ask yourself lots of questions. Will the writer work hard enough and how much do they want this to happen, alongside a million other questions! It really has been a gruelling process but we eventually got where we wanted to be. Sally’s professionalism and fantastic attitude just shone through, as everyone at SILA worked their socks off. Now for the scary bit – fingers crossed’


Shelley Instone Literary Agency 
But I’m preparing too. Actually I started getting into submitting preparation mode in May. It started by meeting with Shelley, and whilst we were all still editing the manuscript we began sub-prep too. I was tasked with working on synopses for my other books, and a synopsis for a sequel to the book we are submitting. Now if you think writing a synopsis for a book you’ve written is hard try writing one for a book you haven’t started yet!

Shelley had an idea to make my submission stand out, by creating something special to go in (and on) the envelope, so I was tasked with getting the secret special thing designed and made.

Then it was the realisation that with the numerous edits and hectic personal life, my personal blog had been somewhat neglected and that it would be beneficial to start posting more ahead of submission. So with that in mind, I had a spring clean of the blog, changing its format and refreshing it to look more vibrant and loved. Plus crucially, getting every blog posted proofread first, to try and pick up some of my many dyslexia associated spelling mistakes.

The preparation is going someway to help me from getting anxious about submitting, but I can still feel those blasted butterflies with razor blade wings flitting about inside my tummy, whenever I stop and think about what’s to come. I’m excited, as the process has been hard work, enjoyable, but gruelling, and thinking that we’re almost at the point where that we’ve all been working towards is great. However I can’t stop my mind slipping to the dark side; the knowledge that with submitting comes rejection.

Hopefully, with the combined work that Shelley, her team and I have invested in the manuscript, it will find a home, but inevitably there will be some rejections along the way. Although at least this time, I’m part of a team, and we can support each other and keep morals high, which means hopefully I’ll be less likely to be crying on my author friends shoulders – well maybe.

In the meantime, it’s preparation, preparation, preparation, to make the manuscript and submission package as good as possible!


  1. Replies
    1. Good luck Sally! You'll knock their socks off- Olivia Kiernan

    2. Thanks Olivia. Always so overwhelmed by the amazing support from writer friends.

  2. Good luck from me too! Oddly, I find writing the synopsis for a sequel to be one of the easier writing tasks - I've done two or three now. Though none of those sequels has been actually written yet...

    1. Thanks Nick! i shall have to pick your brain about Synopsis's!