June: and rethinking the opening of my novel

My aim was to approach a new agent every week. But I’ve failed to keep up with that self-imposed schedule. The whole process is very time-consuming – and stressful. What should I do?

5 Year Writing Goal: June update

do you have goalsI’m taking part in Misha and Beth’s Five Year Project and my five-year goal is to write a novel and get it published.

I’ve been looking for an agent for my historical novel, The Reluctant Scribe, without any success so far.

My aim was to approach a new agent every week. But I’ve failed to keep up with that self-imposed schedule. The whole process is very time-consuming – and stressful. So it’s easy to find other things to do!

For example: I’ve just had a go at self-publishing a little walking booklet, based on an assignment piece I wrote during my Birkbeck course. It was much easier than I expected to get the thing up on Amazon. Here it is: Soggy Socks. I’m working on a digital version.

Anyway, back to my novel, The Reluctant Scribe, and my quest for an agent.
Agents approached so far = 5
Requests for whole manuscript = 0
Rejections so far = 4

I am getting back the standard rejection letters. Thank you and we enjoyed reading … blah, blah… but it is not the kind of thing we are looking for … blah, blah. Although I wasn’t expecting instant success, it’s disappointing that nobody has asked to look at the full manuscript. This makes my think my first few chapters aren’t strong enough or exciting enough.

So, I think I have two choices. Keep submitting. Or revamp the beginning of the novel.

Your thoughts, as always, are welcomed. What should I do?

Author: Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.

13 thoughts on “June: and rethinking the opening of my novel”

  1. Maybe give it to new beta readers and see where their suggestions lead you? Sometimes fresh perspectives reveal great ideas (and issues). 🙂 Keep on keeping on.



  2. That’s a very good idea from Shah. But also remember that rejections aren’t all about your writing. It also depends on current book trends, or what similar books they’ve accepted recently. Even their mood on that particular day. Keep going, you’ll get there.


    1. Yes, I guess it’s partly luck and it depends on the mood and whim of the agent on the day they read it. Of course, many agents employ readers, so there is no guarantee the agent I contacted will have actually seen it.


  3. Fresh eyes are a good thing, but then again I’m hardly qualified where querying is concerned (still a query virgin here)! I’d suggest submit to a few more agents, and if that still doesn’t work, try Shah’s suggestion.

    Keep at it though! Persistence is key. You owe it to your story, Ruth.
    I believe one author said–who’s name is eluding me at the moment–“all you need is one ‘Yes'”.

    And hopefully that ‘Yes’ will come soon for you. Verrrrrry soon.


  4. Sorry to hear about your publishing frustrations, Ruth… I agree with Shah, maybe it is time for some new beta testers. Publishers are so finicky! Keep plugging along at it though.. don’t give up 🙂 Have a great weekend!


  5. Only five so far? That isn’t so bad.
    Honestly, agents pick up what they know they can sell to publishers, what they know they can be passionate about. Agents are not used car salespeople or telemarketers. They can’t sell anything and everything. Most only manage to sell two dozen or so a year. Imagine if a used car salesperson had that kind of number! So don’t take it personally. You’re looking for the best salesperson, one who is willing to devote enormous amounts of time to your book. It’s summer, it’s harder to get people to want to stay inside and work hard for their tiny percentage. Patience.

    I’m redoing the opening of mine right now. (It’s still in editing, not query stage.) I have it up for votes. This might be brilliant, or asking for an Internet beatdown.


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