April 12th 2016
Today, for the first time ever, I sent a draft of my novel to a publisher.
A few weeks ago my Grandad cut something out of a newspaper for me. It was a two page spread advertising the Daily Mail’s First Novel Competition, he knew that I’d written a novel, and thought this would be a helpful way of getting started. He was right. The competition involves sending the first 5000 words, as well as a 600-word plot synopsis of the rest of the novel, off to the publishers/judges and the ‘winner’ gets a book deal. He or she will then be given until October to finish the rest of the book, and the Daily Mail (c/o Penguin Random House) will publish the book. Fortunately, in my situation, the book is already finished. Basically.
So it all sounds pretty good except for the fact that for nay of that to happen I have to win the bloody competition. Which, in all likelihood, won’t happen. But this is a good first step. I have released my book into the wild. Before this the closest I’ve come to ever getting it published was when I got it printed and bound with fancy paper as a birthday gift for my Mum.
So far that is the only copy of my book that isn’t a word document, a pdf, or a printed stack of single sided A4 paper.
Sending my work off to the first publisher is a big step, and I guess it’s always nice to get the first rejection out of the way early. If I’m serious about it, I’ll have a couple dozen rejections before it ever gets accepted and published.
The weirdest part of this experience was having to summarise the plot in 600 words or less (although I used the full amount that was allocated to me), firstly, it was weird to see that the entirety of my 60,000 word story can be told in one-one hundredth of the word count.
Second, it was weird that I found myself able to reel off every single major plot point without having to check the original copy. I could summarise it just off the top of my head. And that’s weird for me. The last book I read was Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut and I could honestly not tell you a single thing that happened in it, I am fairly sure that at some point there are aliens, but other than that I’ve got nothing. I guess because I’ve read my own book more frequently than I have ever read another, it’s become sort of ingrained into my memory.
Summing it up in 600 words made me think a lot about the book, too. I don’t know if this is a common thing in writers but I’ve found that I go through phases of alternating between hating the book and how it is written, and actually quite enjoying my own story and how it is told. Summarising it in such a limited wordcount showed me that a fair amount of interesting stuff happens in it, actually, and maybe it’s not as bad as I sometimes think.
Although, I guess, that’s for the judges to decide.
Until tomorrow, I’ve just realised that I have no idea what “double spaced font” is.