Finishing’ a novel

Well, my ‘cur­rent’ nov­el, ‘Poper Job’ — a com­edy set in Cornwall — is now at the ‘beta’ stage and being read by my girl­friend for comprehensibility/general what-the-hell-is-going-on-ness. This is the second draft, and it equates to a half-arsed rough cut where half the jokes don’t work (it’ll be their last chance to get funny in the next draft; if they don’t have me rolling on the floor by then, they’ll be left on the cut­ting room floor).

After anoth­er draft, and some vicious scrub­bing behind the ears, I should be in a pos­i­tion to kick it out the door. Then I can get star­ted try­ing to snag an agent for it, or a pub­lish­er, but hope­fully both.

I’m in a curi­ous pos­i­tion at the moment. My pre­vi­ously pub­lished nov­el, the tech­no­thrill­er Deja Vu (apo­lo­gies for miss­ing dia­crit­ic­al marks; I’m using new blog­ging soft­ware), has been pub­lished to some acclaim and is selling bet­ter than I had anti­cip­ated giv­en the size and mar­ket­ing budget of my pub­lish­er. I don’t, how­ever, have an agent, and I’m aware that it would be a good idea to get one.

What are my chances? Same as any­one else’s: slim. But I’m very con­fid­ent in my new nov­el, Proper Job, and I’m con­vinced that all I need to do is get some­body to read it. Once done, I’m pretty sure I’ll make the sale.

The dif­fi­culty in this busi­ness is get­ting people to read your work. It’s under­stand­able, of course, giv­en the huge ratio of sup­ply to demand, but it’s very frus­trat­ing to be an indi­vidu­al lost in that sea of stuff wash­ing up on the desks of pub­lish­ers each day. I knew with Deja Vu that I had — fun­da­ment­ally — a good story with good char­ac­ters (this has been borne out by reviews that were 90% pos­it­ive; only one hatchet job, here, which I think makes some good points), and I would get a sale if an agent or pub­lish­er could be con­vinced to read it. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get an agent to read more than three chapters. The one pub­lish­er that did read the whole thing was the UKA Press, and they went on to pub­lish me.

The slightly ram­bling point I’m try­ing to make is that, with luck, it should be easi­er to get agents and pub­lish­ers look at the manu­script this time around: I’m armed with good reviews, loaded with a track record, and dan­ger­ous. If an agent/publisher rejects the manu­script after request­ing the whole thing to read, I’ll be very happy, because it’s more likely that their opin­ion has been fully informed. A fair crack at the whip is about as much as one can expect.

And then what? Well, this, the first para­graph of the sequel to Deja Vu. I wrote this yes­ter­day morn­ing. Our heroine, from the year 2023, is trapped in the year 2003. We find her in her flat in Berlin.

Chapter One

They came for Saskia Brandt in the night. She was sleep­ing, as lightly as ever, on a huge bed above the liv­ing room of her flat. The duvet was tangled around her feet. The night was hot and pressed against her head; she dreamed that she was at the bot­tom of the sea. She broke through the sur­face of her sleep and took a full breath. Otherwise, she did not move.

In the corner of her room, a com­puter screen flashed blue three times. Saskia put her hand behind the head­board and pulled her revolver from its hol­ster. She spun the bar­rel once and opened her eyes.

Who are the men? What do they want? Has Saskia been expect­ing them? I’ll let you know when I find out myself.

Author: Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

4 thoughts on “Finishing’ a novel”

  1. Hey, you have a great blog here! I’m def­in­itely going to book­mark you!
    I have Submitt Blog Site/Blog. It pretty much cov­ers Submitt Blog related stuff. Come and check it out if you get time 🙂

  2. Just a nit­pick: The bar­rel on a revolver doesn’t spin, the cyl­in­der does. Also, out­side of a movie, nobody actu­ally spins the cyl­in­der of a revolver before action. You can’t fire a revolver with the cyl­in­der open. All you can do is acci­dent­ally spill your bul­lets on the floor.

    Very nice oth­er­wise, though!

  3. I came upon your blog frm hit­ting the ‘Next’ but­ton, and read­ing the little of the first chapter was inter­est­ing.

    keep blog­ging!

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