I’m still haunted by the memory of what was technically a fairly average train journey from Liverpool to London – but because I was reading Helen Dunmore’sThe Siege it took on epic and harrowing proportions. The train was delayed in the depths of winter, the heating wasn’t brilliant so I was sat huddled in my coat, gloves and scarf, and, due to staff shortages, they couldn’t open the buffet car. As Anna Levin queued for rations in freezing cold Leningrad, I shivered and shared her hunger. I’m still slightly emotionally scarred – that train journey and the horror of Anna’s situation have blurred in my mind to the point that I now can’t get on a train without buying food first (even if the train is mid afternoon, I’ve already had lunch and will arrive at my destination before dinner) – it’s like a survival instinct kicks in.
There’s a certain synchronicity needed when looking at my submission pile too.
Yes I want to fall in love with a novel and sometimes, if it’s truly outstanding, that can be enough.
But there are so many steps on the path from finding a book I fall in love with to getting that author a publishing deal, and any little synchronicities that can add to the magic help immeasurably.
The last book I signed, a modern gothic, landed on my desk the day after an editor had told me over coffee that she was desperate for a modern gothic for her list. Did I love the writing and the characters? 100%. But did I take it that little bit more seriously because I already knew of an editor who might be interested. Definitely.
I realise this may seem frustrating. As an author looking to submit you can’t engineer these synchronicities – you can’t create that sort of luck (although, you can make sure you’ve followed submission guidelines perfectly)… so I guess the positive I’m trying to put across is that a rejection isn’t always about your book not being good enough.
Keep trying until you hit the right agent at the right time…hold on for serendipity.