5 year writing project, Nov 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.

The first part of this goal was completed long ago. Yes, my historical novel (The Reluctant Scribe) is done and dusted and, for the past 18 months, I’ve been trying to find an agent.

People tell me my central character is convincing and engaging, and the novel is set in an interesting time and place (northern China during the Tang Dynasty). But it isn’t ‘what we’re looking for’ or ‘I don’t feel passionate enough about it’.

On the plus side, I’ve had one request for a full manuscript, and one nice agent wrote a pretty detailed response, proving she’d actually read the first three chapters.

The 20 Stage Submission Process

Submitting takes time, as I’ve mentioned before. It’s almost a full-time job!

  1. Find an agency interested in historical novels
  2. Look at the type of writers they take on to make sure your work fits
  3. Research the agents within the agency and pick one who looks like they might find your book interesting
  4. Read the submission guidelines for the agency.
  5. Read any individual submission guidelines as mentioned by the individual agent.
  6. Check your first three chapters, again.
  7. Rewrite your synopsis so it fits with the requested length, again.
  8. Put together a unique, professional, and typo-free covering letter.
  9. Assemble an email with everything required.
  10. Check everything again.
  11. And again.
  12. Then hit send.
  13. Get excited when you get an almost immediate response.
  14. Calm down when you realise the response is just an automated confirmation email.
  15. Wait.
  16. Wait some more.
  17. Open the rejection email.
  18. Tick another agent off your list.
  19. Open wine.
  20. Start again.

Progress this month?

I’ve submitted to another 3 agents, which brings my total submissions to 15. That’s pretty pathetic for 18 months of trying, I know. So I’ve made a new resolution for December.


My new aim for November was to submit to 3 new agents a week. So far this week, I’ve submitted to – oh, dear, ashamed to confess – absolutely zero agents.

Walking the English Coast

Walking the English Coast, a beginner's guid, author Ruth Livingstone

In the meantime, my book  Walking the English Coast is still achieving a small but significant number of sales. Now all I have to do is find some more reviewers and give the book an extra publicity push in time for the spring season of walking.

THE SHED - jpg thumbnailNaNoWriMo and short story writing. #30days#30shorts

The Shed: a collection is up on Amazon, both as a paperback and Kindle version. As a result of the feedback I’ve had from readers – enthusiastic – I realise how much I enjoy writing short stories. And so this year I’m being a NaNo rebel again. Instead of a novel, I’m writing THIRTY short stories, one story each day, for the month.

How am I doing?

  • 24 stories finished (well, first draft finished, to be precise)
  • Each story illustrated, using CC0 public domain images and my new Wacom pad
  • A blog post for each day, featuring a brief snippet about the story and the finished illustration.

My NaNo name is RuthL.

How is everybody else doing?

Author: Ruth Livingstone

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

8 thoughts on “5 year writing project, Nov update”

  1. The querying process is really a full-time job, no kidding. Learned that this year after subbing 20+ times. Best of luck with The Reluctant Scribe, and congrats on completed NaNo (with a few days to spare). Sweet! And good luck with Stories #27-30!


  2. The 20 Stage Submission Process – Ha! Love what you did there.
    Finding even 3 agents who are interested in your genre and type of stories and whatever can be difficult. Keep up the hard query work!
    Thirty short stories- how exciting!


    1. #30shorts30days has been an interesting – and challenging – project. But I’ve actually enjoyed it more than a normal NaNoWriMo. You know those NaNo days when you just feel off track and the story is running in the wrong direction? Well, with short stories, every day is a new beginning and fresh start!


  3. Congrats on winning NaNoWriMo! Mine was #NaNoFAIL. 🙂

    Yes, that’s the submission process for me too, except I think my wine is made of tears.😉


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