I finally heard from my agent this last week. Apparently selling my book is an uphill struggle, that’s the bad news, it hasn’t sold. However the feedback he’s supplied is quite interesting. Picking several apart, here in no particular order are the nice things they said about my writing style:
“…it’s a smart, swift read, frequently populated by great turns of phrase…”
“It’s a tensely written piece that does a good job of invoking the claustrophobic, testosterone laden atmosphere of men’s prison and the violent action scenes are well done.”
Unfortunately, they also said the final reveal is a little implausible and the style is too commercial. ‘Too commercial’? What the hell? Are we not all in the business of selling books? Is selling books not the whole idea? I’m not even sure what ‘too commercial’ means let alone how to avoid being it. There again, I want to sell books so not even sure I want to not be commercial.
What gets me about the implausibility rejection is that implausibility can be edited out. Okay, it takes a little time and a little effort – to explain why it was felt implausible and for me to edit around that. But that’s all it takes. I think what that rejection shows is just how hard it is to get publishers to take on debut authors, they’d work with someone who had already sold them a novel. I am going to go back and look at the script again, see why it might be considered implausible and rectify if I can. The problem with that is that I don’t know exactly what they thought was implausible so I could completely miss the mark.
To try to stay with the positives, I’ve worked out the plot for the third in the series and have a pretty good idea for the forth. However if books one and two aren’t selling, what’s the point of writing three and four? Thankfully, I have another book idea that’s been rattling around my head for a while.
This is quite a different slant, it’s led almost entirely by female characters, though there is a man in it who takes a more supportive role rather than a lead. It also quickly gets out of the UK. In other words, it’s well outside my usual writing comfort zone, so I’ve got a lot of research to do, and that’s where I’m going to start concentrating for a few months.
The last couple of years all I’ve been reading is unpublished works. Most of it has been okay, but there’s been a lot of stinkers, and some – a very few – diamonds in the rough. My point is reading for editing and reading for pleasure are very different things. So the other thing I’ve promised myself I’m going to do is read more. I’ve just started “Never Forget” by Lisa Cutts, I picked this one as it is UK based and set in Kent, where I grew up. I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I’ve also got “Snowblind” and “Last Rituals”, and a load of others that I want to read too.
So am going to back off from the writing a little bit, and get on with activities that should make my writing better. Well, that’s it for now. Things to get on and do, research doesn’t do itself, nor does the cooking or the ironing, but heyho.