- About the Author
- On Active Service
It was January when I began submitting my new novel to Literary Agents and Publishers. I remember sitting on the sofa, a cup of tea next to me, my laptop on my lap, while the rain teemed down outside. I drew up two lists, one for Literary Agents, one for publishers and typed in “Literary Agents/Publishers seeking submissions Women’s contemporary literature.” It was an arduous task. The internet has a habit of throwing up all sorts of unwanted rubbish that has nothing to do with what you’re looking for.
Having made my lists I visited each website again. The publishing ones were fairly simple, just a question of addressing the submission to someone at the company who deals with them. Literary Agents all accept different genres so when you find a company it’s a question of reading each agent’s profile to see which one accepts the genre you write in.
Then, each agent/publisher has a different set of rules. Some want a one page synopsis, some two pages. Some want an explanatory covering letter, including an author biography, others want the biography separately. Most ask you to send the first three chapters of your work, but some only want one, or even a certain number of words. Some like it sent as an attachment, others ike you to copy ad paste it into the body of your email.
Ask any author and they will tell you that the synopsis has to be the hardest part. Condensing your 90,000 word novel into one or two pages and trying to make it interesting and exciting is an almost impossible task.
A blurb or pitch is easier: a few short sharp sentences, like you see on the back of books, introducing the story with just enough about what happens in the book to entice the reader.
So, you finally get your submission together, checking and double-checking spelling, grammar and that you’ve followed all their rules, you send it off. And wait. And wait. And wait. Some agencies and publishing companies helpfully send you an email to say they’ve received your work. Some say that if you haven’t heard back within a certain length of time it means you haven’t been successful. Most, however, do neither. It’s like sending your work out into a big black hole!
The replies come slowly. You have to inure yourself against rejections. Some are standard letters the send it to everyone, some are more personal and say that your work doesn’t fit in with their list but it is no reflection on the quality of your work. Some of the publishing companies write back offering a partnership publishing contract, even though it’s not what you asked for.
Then, if you’re lucky, you get the break you’re waiting for. Someone replies to say they’ve read your work “with interest” and would like you to send the entire manuscript. When this happened to me, I allowed myself to be cautiously optimistic, although I have been in this position before, years ago, when I submitted my novel Out of Step to a publisher, only to be disappointed a week later when it was rejected. This time, however, I received a reply, offering me a publishing contract.
So, I am pleased to announce that I have signed a contract with Wallace Publishing for my novel I know you, don’t I? and it will be published next year. I still can’t quite believe I’ve got here but it does prove that perseverance pays off!
Bethany Askew is the author of eight novels:
The Time Before, The World Within, Out of Step, Counting the Days, Poppy’s Seed, Three Extraordinary Years,The Two Saras and I know you, Don’t I?
She has also written a short story, The Night of the Storm, and she writes poetry.
Two more women’s fiction books have been accepted for publication in 2020 and 2021 respectively and she is currently working on a new novel.
In her spare time she enjoys reading, music, theatre, walking, Pilates, dancing and voluntary work.
Bethany is married and lives in Somerset.