Entering the Literary Dating World (AKA. Trying to Get Published)

Last month I finally finished writing my children’s book: Olive in the Heights. Hurrah! However, the fun never stops. Once you’ve finished writing your book, there is the issue of finding someone to read it. ‘Read’ in all senses of the word; proof-readers, beta-reader, a literary agent, a publisher and eventually actual readers. And I thought writing my book would be the hardest thing…

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I’ve now reached the stage that I’m looking for publishers and literary agents. The more submissions I send off, the more I feel like I’ve started online dating. Not the modern ‘Tinder’ kind either (swipe, swipe – that would be amazing!) the old-fashioned, personal profile with an unflattering picture kind. Here’s the steps as I’ve experienced them so far…

Step 1: Look for potential suitors

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Spend days methodologically sifting through dating sites and the classifieds to find a suitable match.
In literary terms this is flicking through the ‘Writers and Artists Yearbook’ and somewhat desperately Googling the agents of all your favourite authors.

Step 2: Second guessing

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You’ve found a match! (Or even a few matches, if you’re lucky.) They’re everything you’re looking for and more. Now, spend some time worrying that you’re not good enough for them. They’re a drop-dead gorgeous, a solid 9 and you’re a lowly 6.
In the publishing world, as a young, inexperienced and unpublished author, I’m more like a 4…

Step 3: Reaching out

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Craft the perfect message to reach out to your new love. Daydream about how wonderful it will be when they undoubtably reciprocated your feelings instead of double-checking what you’ve written. Then, in a moment of loved-up confidence, hit send.
In the literary world this means you fantasise about a response along the lines of: ‘By gum, this is the best ruddy piece of writing I’ve read since The Grapes of Blummin’ Wrath!’ My dream literary agent is apparently from the 1930’s, wears a three-piece suit and smokes a pipe. Don’t judge me, we fiction writers are known for having healthy imaginations.

Step 4: Mandatory regret and self-loathing

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Your disappointed with the lack of an immediate, gushing response and curl into the foetal position while sobbing into your pyjama top. You’ve also re-read your correspondence and suddenly realised what a muppet you sounded like.
For unpublished authors this means you’ve now noticed every single spelling and grammar mistake that you somehow missed the first time round. You realise this renders all your hard-work pretty much useless. Your mistakes may include:
Repeating the same information twice = publisher groan.
Using ‘your’ instead of ‘you’re’ = publisher deletes your email immediately.
Writing ‘sea’ instead of ‘see’ = you are officially dead to the publisher now.
(I won’t tell you which mistake I made in my first submissions.)

Step 5: Getting serious

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Time to put your foot down. You will not be beaten by love! Create a strict, fool-proof plan of how to find ‘the one’. No exceptions will pass!
In writers’ cases, whittle down a very strict list of potential publishers and literary agents and create a excel spreadsheet that any mathematician would be impressed by. No unsolicited manuscripts? Bye then. Reading fee? Nope. Send by post? Uh-uh.

[Repeat step 3 & 4 as needed]

Step 6: Rejection

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You’ve finally got a response! However, it’s a heart-breaking no. You consider forgetting the whole thing. Love? Who needs it!
At this point, we literary folk will toy with the idea of self-publishing, writing erotica novellas and emailing J.K. Rowling a very personal sob-story but will eventually settle on a nap.

Step 7: Confidence

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You’ve made some mistakes, you’ve let some good ones get away and you’ve made yourself look like a complete fool. However, now you are a seasoned and experienced online-dater. You know the lines that work and the lines that don’t. Time to break some hearts!
Unfortunately, writers will probably never have this level of confidence when it comes to publishing. This step simply means you will not curl into a ball after the next rejection. Instead, you will continue to plod along, sending submissions and reading an inordinate amount of inspirational quotes.

Step 8: Love!

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Well, we can all hope…
Singletons looking for love and writers looking for publishers/literary agents, we’re all in this together!

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13 thoughts on “Entering the Literary Dating World (AKA. Trying to Get Published)

  1. Loved this post! I want to get to this stage. I keep putting it off and writing another book. I think it’s a good process to go through and there is always self publishing :-)

    1. Thanks Lucy! I’ve only made it about half way through these steps to be honest, I’m just hoping for the best with the second half haha.
      You can definitely do it! Better to spend time finding the perfect project than get stuck on one you don’t like anyway :)

  2. Oh man, I have thought about this so much recently. The idea of going out to find publishers is terrifying! This is my 2016 resolution though – WILL finish a collection of stories that I WILL try and get published! Expect me to pick your brain when this starts to happen.

    1. It is still terrifying to me! I’ve managed to hone my skill down to just hitting send with my eyes closed (whether that’s a good idea or not).
      Ooh, I definitely want to hear some of these short stories! We can do some nervous research together haha.

  3. Nice analogy… love, rejection, self doubt. The emotions of us all.
    I smiled at the spelling errors and grammar mistakes. It took me simply ages to amend and correct my book (years!). Trying to get it ‘just right’ became a little obsessive and fixating. And even then there were things I found I’d missed.
    Only natural to question yourself. I regularly wondered if I was not wasting my time, but it was only a passing moment.
    Never give up. I believe in the law of averages, so keep plugging away. It’ll be worth it in the end.

    From an admirer x

    1. Absolutely, rejection and self-doubt repeating a bit more than love at the moment! None-the-less, I definitely believe in the law of averages too so we’re both in with a shot!
      Keep going with yours too! :) x

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