Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The Book What I Wrote

A couple of years ago, unable to find any novels that I really wanted to read, I decided I should act on my
vague mutterings about possibly writing a book one day and actually get round to putting my money where my mouth was. So I wrote a novel.

I think you would have to call it women's fiction, although that does not mean men aren't allowed to read it. I intended it to be light and diverting without being irritating. When I was finished, I gave the manuscript to a firm of agents called Sheil Land in London. They then flogged it around for a bit.

The responses they got were as follows:

1. Publisher A thought that the book was "compelling, but it wouldn’t be easy to categorize – it is somewhere between ‘literary’ and ‘commercial’, and would need to be one or the other to be pitched for successfully in an acquisition meeting."

2. Publisher B said, 'It’s pacy and gripping, and the plot is great, but it lacks that lighter women’s fiction feeling. The writing is undeniably good but I’m not quite sure how I would position it on our list.'

3. Publisher C commented that it "is a warm, engaging and easy read but this ‘middle market fiction’ is a really tough area.'


4. Publisher D considered that, "It is a good story (stories) well told, but just missing the X-factor that would make me fall in love with it."

As time went on, the agent's replies to my emails became slower and slower until eventually I had to contact the firm's receptionist to ask whether the person in question had left or was ill - neither, it turned out; simply feeling defeated. We parted company after that, as I couldn't see much mileage in continuing the relationship.

It seems a pity to me though to have gone to the trouble of writing a book and then not to share it. My aim was to provide something entertaining and interesting, although not too demanding. I assume there may be someone out there who is looking for that kind of thing to read, and, if so, I am publishing the early parts of what I've written here. I should add that, if more is wanted, let me know either here, in the comments, or via Twitter (@zmkc) or email ( and, when I have time, I will oblige:


  1. If you can find it down at the library, have a look at least the opening pages of Mulligan Stew by Gilbert Sorrentino, which leads off with rejection letters. Some of the editors' names may seem familiar. Actually, some of the wording may seem very familiar.

    And are Australian red cedars deciduous? American cedars are evergreen.

    1. I think they're stock letters that my ex-agent received. As Denis Wright has pointed out, I should have called it Fifty Shades of Grey Moths. That might have done the trick. Or maybe not. Not sure about deciduousness of Australian red cedars as they are now scarce - here's their Wikipedia entry, which I haven't read:

  2. Replies
    1. Yay - and thank you for the Bangkok tip. Anna took your advice and booked the place.