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Claudia Cruttwell blog posts

Finding an Agent: Why You Shouldn’t Give Up

Writing advice

Looking back on my quest to secure an agent and asking myself what my experience has taught me, I find I have very little to pass on to fellow writers. What I discovered is that there are no tricks or short cuts or secret recipes. It’s simply a case of doing what everyone says you must do: write the best book you can, put together a strong submission, keep smiling in the face of rejection and keep sending it out there until someone says yes. It’s as simple as that.

There is one common cause of failure I have noted, which is that people tend to give up too soon. It can take many submissions before you find the right agent for your book, which means steering a course through a number of rejections. One author I heard about set herself a positive target of receiving at least one hundred rejections. This was, I thought, a rather clever way to inure herself against conceding defeat.

So, here are three common reasons I can think of why people give up prematurely.


1. Submission fatigue.

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Multiple Submissions - A Writer's View

Writing advice

Multiple submissions. Traditionally, agents don’t like them. But nowadays, most accept that aspiring writers make a practice of them. In all honesty, it’s unreasonable to expect otherwise. Given the sheer volume of submissions agents receive, it’s impossible for them to implement a quick turnaround. And given the number of rejections I, as a writer, am likely to receive on my journey towards representation, it could hold me back years if I waited for each submission to be considered one at a time. Multiple submissions it is, then, though I will always out of courtesy let an agent know I’m submitting elsewhere.

How many, exactly, constitutes multiple? Some people advocate playing the numbers game, believing that the largest outlay will bring in the greatest return. It isn’t uncommon for writers to submit to twenty agents at a time. (One writer I met recently had a business idea for block mailing query letters on behalf of aspiring authors to agents around the …

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Writers' Groups - Are They Any Good?

Writing advice

Before I became a mother, I vowed I would never join a mother and baby group.  Before I had twins, I vowed I would never join a twins and multiple births group. Before I set out to become a published writer, I vowed I would never join a writers’ group.

Guess what?  I joined all three.

It’s not that I couldn’t manage on my own. I consider myself to be self-sufficient, self-disciplined and rigorously independent. Yet, there have been undeniable benefits to joining all these groups. Here are some.


Empathy  

Only mothers of twins know how annoying it is when, oblivious to your bedraggled appearance and bloodshot eyes, someone says, ‘Oooh, I always wanted twins.’  Only writers know how annoying it is when, oblivious to your bedraggled appearance and bloodshot eyes, someone says, ‘Oooh I always wanted to write a book.’ It’s good to meet up with people who truly understand your experiences, with whom you can enjoy a good moan and …

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Putting That Completed Novel to Work

Writing advice

Whilst I was ensconced in writing my novel, I used to see competitions advertised for unpublished manuscripts and fantasise about a time when I would be in a position to enter. The allure wasn’t so much the prizes on offer as the satisfaction of having a finished product at my fingertips which I could fire off at will. I longed to be able to able to say, ‘Oh yeah, I’ll give that one a go.’  Well, now I can.

But what is the point of entering? It’s not like I’m seriously expecting to win anything. I’ve never won a competition in my life. What other benefits might be gained from pitting my MS against hundreds, if not thousands, of other hopefuls?

Well, firstly, when putting together a competition submission, I inevitably find myself taking another look at those opening pages or chapters.  I view my submission from a fresh perspective. I wonder what the competition judge will make of it and how it will compare with all the other entries. …

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Post-Submission Decisions

Writing advice

Each step along the path to publication throws up fresh dilemmas. I had assumed, once I’d sent off my opening chapters to agents, that I’d have no more decisions to make in the submissions process. But this was not the case. Almost immediately, I began asking myself questions like, how long I should allow for a response and what action should I take when I receive one.

 The advice I gave myself to the first question was to be patient. Agents are busy people, as we all know. They will always prioritise their existing authors over any potential newcomers. But, they will get around to reading my work eventually, because they have to find new authors too. It just takes time. Most agents post guidelines on their websites as to how long you should allow before chasing a submission. I would be inclined to allow longer. I know, in my own life, that targets are often missed and it can be annoying to have this pointed out.

 Next question: how do I respond to the responses? When I do …

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