January 2017 – writing update

There is more than one way to achieve a goal.

In August 2013, I signed up for Misha’s 5 year project. My goal was to finish writing a novel and to get it published.

The novel was finished a long time ago. The sticking-point has been finding an agent.

So, last month, I came up with a sub-goal, which was to submit to 30 agents before giving up. So far my tally is 27 and that means I only have 3 left to go.

I’ve had a few nice comments, and one request for the full manuscript of The Reluctant Scribe, but nobody has snapped it up. However, despite the steady trickle of rejections, I’m less despondent than I was this time last year.

ruth-with-book-smallWhy? Because in the interim I have independently published a non-fiction book, Walking the English Coast, and a booklet of short stories, The Shed: collection.

I’ve discovered how easy it is to do and how wonderfully satisfying.

And – guess what – the books have been selling moderately well.

Funnily enough, I’ve realised I’m sort of hoping that none of the agents I’ve approached in the latest round will show an interest. Because that means I can get on with the task of moving The Reluctant Scribe nearer to publication.

In the meantime, I’m continuing with the second major edit of my YA sci-fi novel, The Orbital Contract. It’s shaping up well, and I’m excited by the story, which is fast paced and action packed. When it’s finished I’m going to have to decide whether to begin the agent search all over again, or just get on and publish independently.

Decisions, decisions… what should I do?

Author: Ruth Livingstone

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

9 thoughts on “January 2017 – writing update”

  1. I had my comment typed out but I couldn’t remember my WordPress password and my comment was deleted, lol. Either way, congrats on your other book selling well. 🙂 I can imagine the accomplishment you must feel. In regards to the agents, least year I had a trickle of rejections and although it didn’t bother me as much as it would have a few years ago, I knew it was mostly for two reasons: low word count for the genre and the agents couldn’t connect with the voice of one of the main characters. Since then I’ve decided to revise it and set it to the side to concentrate on a different manuscript. One of my main goals for this year is to find a literary agent. Fingers crossed!

    I’m sure you’ll be able to achieve your goal and what’s best for you! I’ll be sending positive vibes your way. 🙂

    Btw, I’m a new co-host for this blog-hop with Misha! I look forward to reading your future updates!



    1. Hi Brittney and thank you for being the new co-host, and for persevering with your comment!. I think agents in the U.K are looking for safe bets, and my book is set in an unusual period for historical fiction (Tang dynasty, China) and has no established audience. Either that or the writing is not good enough!! Anyway, only 3 more agents to find…


  2. Hi Ruth! Looks like your path to publication is nontraditional. Nothing wrong with that! If you want some advice about your YA book, I suggest joining SCBWI. I’m in the USA so there might be better organizations where you are that accomplish the same thing, but I found SCBWI very helpful for resources in the children’s literature department.
    I think you may find self-publishing the way to go for YA, but if you want your books in bookstores and libraries than you might find it harder to do that with a self-published book. Again – USA here – your experience may vary.

    Another possibility is to look for a distributer. Basically you still pay for the publication of the book, but it is distributed through a company that also publishes and distributes books. I can only think of an example in the movie business off the top of my head, but I know it happens in books too – for example, an independent filmmaking company may distribute through Warner Brothers. Warner Brothers slaps their name on the movie, works with theatres to get it shown, and markets it to wholesalers, but the independent company actually funded and produced the movie. Make sense?


    1. Hi Jen, and was thinking of joining SCBWI. Yes, we do have an active UK branch. I’m not sure about their attitude to self-publishers, so need to do a bit more research first. (I think with the YA book I’m almost certainly definitely going to self-pub because it’s the right genre and demographics for YA eBooks.) Your advice about film distributors is interesting. The only similar thing I can think of in the book world is Ingram Spark, which does distribute self-pubbed books to bookshops, but bookshops have to want to order the book… and that’s the problem. Do let me know if you discover another avenue.


  3. It’s difficult to say what you *have* to do, although I think it’s important that you do what you think is right. Just keep in mind, though, that not all sales numbers are the same for all genres. That said, if you think you have a long-term strategy of publishing, it could be worthwhile for you. 🙂


  4. Have you tried PitchWars and contests with query critiques (like at Operation Awesome)? Not that agents are a publishing requirement, as you’ve discovered. A good book launch party online is often just as good. (I mean, unless you land a “big 5” publisher and get access to their email database.) Rock on with your submissions!


    1. Those are excellent ideas, thank you. Most of the critiques I can find are based around USA submissions, and I’m not sure some of the advice wouldn’t go down well with British agents. But I’ll keep an eye on the Operation Awesome submissions invites.


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