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The Struggles of Unagented Indie Authors

Being an Indie author is a fairly popular path these days – not necessarily because writers want to but because securing an agent’s attention with a blistering synopsis and riveting first three chapters (or maybe as little as 10 double spaced pages) is a fairly hit and miss business. In fact, it can be darned near impossible – or that’s the way it seems when you’ve studied the wants and submission guidelines of almost every agent in the book and sent out queries – and after the rejections start rolling in your enthusiasm (that you thought you would never lose) is beginning to wane.

Unfortunately, the lows of rejection are experienced almost universally by budding writers.

It’s not pretty  – in fact it can be downright devastating, particularly when you have sent your query to 40 agents and by the end of week two you have received 10 rejections – How did they get to it that fast? I thought there was a 6-8 week turn around?  Then the other thirty dribble in over the next few weeks, ensuring that if you thought you could write at the beginning of the exercise, by the time rejections 39 and 40  finally straggle in, you are definitely thinking otherwise.

In fact, by now, you are convinced you’d got it all wrong. All those weeks and months of spending every spare second glued to your computer writing your masterpiece, were a complete waste of time. You’d turned down endless invites to barbecues and parties, hadn’t been to one movie or indulged in even the tiniest bit of retail therapy and hadn’t gone anywhere that could be remotely described as social and all because you’d thought you could write – when in fact it’s been made glaringly obvious that you can’t – you’re actually a rotten writer. Your thirteen year old delinquent could probably churn out something more literary or commercial. You’ve been kidding yourself.  Maybe you should just go and clean toilets, or do someone’s ironing.

Sound familiar?

You are not alone. The trouble with being an Indie writer is that you need to be a Jack of all Trades, not just a writer of books. But amid all the promoting, reviewing other people’s books, joining discussion groups, sending tweets and building up followers, writing a blog, developing a dedicated Facebook page, and the myriad of other things we need to do to become known, we seem to have lost the time to actually write the books we want to become famous for.

Now for those multi-taskers who can handle ten things at once it is probably a piece of cake, but for most it’s more like a stale piece of bread.

So what’s the answer?

Well, first of all, don’t give up. If you want to be a writer and feel you have the ability then you owe it to yourself to keep plugging away. Here’s a list:

  • Read all you can about the craft
  • Take a course –  there are a zillion courses out there, either online or at your local University or Writing School
  • Join a writers’ group – they are in most areas and if you are living out in the sticks and can’t make it to all the meetings most groups will update you by mail if your sub is up to date.
  • Alternatively, start your own group. There are books and loads if information on the internet to help you.
  • Subscribe to a writing magazine – invaluable – and when it pops into your letterbox each month, it’s a great excuse for curling up in a cosy corner with a glass of wine and unwinding with lots to read on your favourite subject.
  • Join online chats attached to writing sites and learn from others’ experiences.
  • Email agents asking for guidance. They won’t all reply as they are busy people but you may click with someone’s attention and every little nugget of information will help you.
  • Look through publishers’ guidelines – some still accept unagented submissions. They do have a slush pile so getting looked at may take quite awhile, if ever, but there may be a junior out there somewhere keen enough to take reading home and who knows – you may be their golden find.

Whatever you do, refuse categorically to give up. Keep affirming your dream of being a writer and believe in yourself. After all, if you stop believing, why would anyone else?

So read, read, read – learn, learn, learn – write, write, write and never, ever, ever give up.

It’s the only formula worth following and that will never let you down.




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