Friday, February 27, 2009

Be prepared, they are quick!

So last Friday lunchtime I sent off four query letters to agents. Being used to the film and tv world I expected the sound of silence for weeks if not months. Imagine my surprise when all four responded within hours asking for the first 10k.

It is indeed a strange land!

Two of them asked for a detailed synopsis as well. Which of course I hadn't done. Luckily having whipped up treatments at short notice in the past I wasn't much fazed by this but for someone who maybe isn't used to it then maybe forewarned is forearmed.

You can see from the above I am a dummy at this and of course everyone else already has a detailed synopsis already written.

So with packages duly emailed back to them on Monday I sat back to wait in the expectation it would be some time before I heard anything.

On Thursday I got a request from one of them for the full manuscript. Now, as I've said, I'm a dummy at this game but that speed of reply is something that I know all you TV veterans out there think only survives in a world of chocolate lampposts and candy cotton clouds.

But it's true I tells ya. Just like in Waterworld, that fabled dry land does exist.

Okay it may just mean I get to hear my rejections quicker, but hey. The point is I guess, that if I had gone by normal TV timetables for reading material, I would have been tempted to have sent
out the first 10k while I still had another 20k to write, thinking I'd be finished by the time anyone got back to me.

Far as I can see that is a definite no-no. If an agent gets back to you in a timely and professional manner I figure the last thing he wants to hear is 'I haven't finished it yet'.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Firstly, Dave and Will and Potty and Adrian and John and Charlie and everyone else who is still reading this after all this time, thanks for the exclamation marks, lol.

I started up the blog again mainly because I thought it would be interesting for writers who haven't yet done it to see how the process worked, or didn't, with a TV writer going to novels.

Have no idea how this will pan out, as it may be a very short re-start before the novel world quickly tells me to piss off.

But here's the skinny as I have played it so far.

Step 1 - Write a novel

Step 2 - Send off query letters to any book agents for whom you have managed to finagle direct e-mail addresses. [Dump addresses are not worth bothering with unless you plan on living to 120]

Step 3 - Finally remember that sending off query letters to any Tom, Dick or Dick is not the way to go.

Step 4 - Have a good mate who has just had a half million dollar book deal give you addresses of agents who get back to you the same day and are interested in the same kind of material.

Step 5 -Make sure that the 10k words you send off to said agents who get back to you the same day aren't shit.

Okay I had two advantages. Steps 1 and 4. Step1 is common sense and step 4 is earned from the trenches. Friendships forged in the heat of TV battle are like veterans from a platoon hitting the beach on D day. Except half of the platoon are Nazis.

Associates grass on you to the Gestapo. Friends are like Anne Frank's landlord.

Anyhoo, the first 10k of the novel is now with 4 of the top agents. Now it's squeaky bum time.

When you've done what you can, all you can do is wait.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

For those about to die

The lights have been off and the blinds shut for a few months now and I've been a reclusive, obnoxious bastard. But the novel is just about finished.

In a week or so I'll be sending it out into the big wide world and so I thought that, bearing in mind I have no knowledge whatsoever about the publishing world, it might be of interest to someone to see how, or if, it progresses.

For the last 10 years I've written for TV, mostly in serial drama, with an option or two on my own creations. I know a fair share of producers and network execs and agents, and I know from looking at a story before I even begin to write the script that it will come in at X pages plus or minus five.

But this is different. I don't know any publishers. I don't know any book agents. I don't even know if I can write a novel. I mean write a novel as opposed to type 400 pages of drivel. Is 300 pages the second act mid-point reversal? Who the hell knows.

All I can say is that I like how it's turned out. Which, admittedly isn't saying much as I may be slightly biased. But more importantly I liked the process. I even like the fact that I'm a total virgin in what is for me a shiny new arena.

I can tell the kind of stories I want to tell and not have half a dozen bods sticking their oar in at every stage, and that is HIGH COTTON after some of the assholes I and every other TV and film writer who lasts more than a few years have had their fair share of. I might not make any money from the book, but heck, it took me less time to write than the sum total of a couple of years worth of spec scripts that got nowhere, and it did my soul a lot of good.

So here we are. No agent, no contacts. An unknown submitting his first effort. Yeah baby! Let's roll the dice.