Sarah Ann Hall

Reporting on writing in progress or, more probably, not; practising flash fiction.

Oh those poor agents – #amwriting, #amediting

with 10 comments

I am not sure what I was on in March when I thought that my has-been-going-on-forever book was publishable as it was. Perhaps I made too much use of my friend’s Nespresso machine and excess caffeine caused delusions. On the advice of my new writing friend Lou, who said the book was almost there but not quite, I have been re-reading and re-editing. Chapters 1-3 haven’t been covered in so much scribble since a major re-write two years ago. And when I found a typo in Chapter 2, I wanted to jump up and down and pull my hair out. A train pulls away, not ‘as the trained pulled away.’ How did I miss it? As I paced my friend’s kitchen, coffee in hand reading aloud, how did I not stumble over this mistake? I don’t know, but I did, and it makes me unhappy to know I sent out a manuscript that wasn’t just not perfect but also contained errors.

I have worked on Chapter 3 today, which was previously chapter 4, and found yet another mistake – a we instead of a with, as in ‘take a walk we me.’ Again, how is it only now I am seeing it? I want to boil my head for my stupidity/ poor eyesight. Instead I will plod on. It has taken me three weeks to get this far (p. 21), slotting in reading and editing between appointments, typing in changes while hubby watches TV. I just hope I can keep the same mood and frame of mind until I reach the end of p. 212, as the changes need to be uniform and the feel of the book consistent.

As for the eight agents I submitted to in April, one replied the book was a near miss for her, three others said, no thanks in the current market, and after the passage of time, I imagine I will not be hearing from the remaining four. I will be working on my re-submission next week.



Written by Sarah Ann

June 7, 2017 at 1:30 pm

10 Responses

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  1. You’d be surprised how long it takes for some of them to get back to you. I

    Reprobate Typewriter

    June 7, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    • I know. And some say they won’t get in touch unless they want more because of the volume of submissions, so it’s to be expected. I think I was more surprised by the quick response of some.

      Sarah Ann

      June 7, 2017 at 9:42 pm

  2. You’re too hard on yourself. When we read, our brains are really good about making typos make sense… we know how it’s supposed to read so that’s what we see. Reading slow and taking in every single letter and word is so difficult. Hang in there! (You can always say you typed the book on your phone and auto correct got you. No? 🙂 )


    June 8, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    • If only. I struggle with getting a text fully correct – typing a book on a phone is a feat too far to attempt. 🙂

      Sarah Ann

      June 8, 2017 at 3:37 pm

  3. Don’t beat yourself over mistakes Sarah – it happens to all of us.

    FYI, I can point out NYT Bestsellers that contain errors – yes, brand name authors published by brand name publishing houses using presumably top end editors and having gone through perhaps a dozen pairs of professional eyes – and errors! These include inconsistencies in plot and character – and typos!

    When you write a 60,000 to 90,000 word novel – a couple of typos is quite normal. And usually agents overlook these because typos are easy to fix. Not so, major plot holes, etc.

    Eric Alagan

    June 19, 2017 at 1:04 pm

    • Hopefully there are no plot holes. I still find it difficult to describe any plot, and my elevator pitch is lacklustre and depressing, but I will plod on until someone tells me to stop.
      I too have found typos in published works and wondered how they get past all those vetting eyes. I’m taking your word than an agent will let a few pass. 🙂

      Sarah Ann

      June 19, 2017 at 1:17 pm

  4. It is practically impossible to catch all of your own typos – I’ve worked in offices where we weren’t allowed to proof read our own work for this very reason. So, I shouldn’t be too hard on yourself there 🙂

    I am a bit puzzled by this remark you made, though: “my elevator pitch is lacklustre and depressing.” I wonder why that is – is it just because you’re not very good at elevator pitches? Like anything else, I’m sure some people find it easier than others. Or because the key points of the novel, the “hooks”, aren’t quite in focus yet? If it’s the latter it might also help the writing of the novel itself if you were able to bring those key points into sharper focus.

    Just a thought 🙂


    June 27, 2017 at 11:20 pm

    • Many thanks for your comments. The problem with the elevator pitch is its length – one sentence. The fact that my protagonist is dying has to be mentioned and makes it depressing immediately. I am not good at selling my work and doubly bad at selling it succinctly.
      As a panster, I have trouble following the theory of story structure and recognising conflict other than in the strict sense of the word. However, reading through my synopsis prior to resubmission I did recognise the inciting incident that brings about change and resolution, so know that’s in there 🙂

      Sarah Ann

      June 28, 2017 at 11:45 am

      • Oh I see. Yes, it’s certainly difficult to compress a story into a single sentence. Perhaps you could say the protagonist is “battling a serious illness” or somesuch phrase, avoiding the depressing finality of “dying”?


        June 29, 2017 at 11:00 pm

      • Thank you for the advice. I’m going to work on it!

        Sarah Ann

        June 30, 2017 at 6:50 pm

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