A number of people have read my first, so far unpublished novel (Full Term) at this point. Friends and beta-readers, mostly, but in the process of submitting it various places at various times, some agents have read it too. In the video above is a small selection of their thoughts, from when I pitched Full Term at last year’s SCBWI conference. And below are snippets of feedback I got when submitting traditionally.
All such lovely, wonderful comments that made my heart happy.
You might wonder why, if they liked it so much, I still don’t have an agent, so for context, I will also put in their reason for turning it down, too. As is often the way of things, it’s usually not an actual fault with the book. Marketing reasons. Timing reasons. All things out of my (and their!) control.
I just thought it would be interesting to collect the comments and decisions here, in one place. So have a look – and then read right to the very end, where I have an announcement.
Here’s the very first one I got, containing both praise and reason for rejection succinctly in one sentence:
I really like your writing and found this very engaging, but I’m afraid in the current YA market I’m not confident of being able to place it with a publisher.
Side Note: I thought about putting names beside each of these quotes, but then thought it might be considered bad form. If you’re really interested in who said what, you could turn it into a very difficult guessing game (that I’ll never admit the answers to).
The writing is pretty good, pretty strong. You’re a good writer but with the YA market not as strong as it was and the amount of competition out there….
Agent Three – a matter of personal preference: (This one read and requested the full manuscript)
I think you have a really gripping premise and setting here, and that you are a very talented writer. Despite this, I am sad to say that I am going to pass on this. I appreciate that Mya’s experience is realistic of a vulnerable young person but it is simply a bit too dark for me.
One agent read my submission and was really positive about it, but told me the subject matter hit too close to home. Which is fair.
Here’s another one:
I really liked your writing and found your characterisation of Mya spot on. But I couldn’t help worrying about the incredibly challenged YA market…
This is all in addition to what my Irish Writing Centre mentor said about the novel:
“I really, really enjoyed it. It definitely draws in and engages the reader. Hard to put down!” – Felicity McCall, Author & Journalist
But it wasn’t just agents and mentors. I entered a number of competitions, whose judging panels had these things to say:
I liked the character, and the way the plot seems like it’s going to get deeper and the girl is going to go through an internal and external struggle. Solid characters and good dialogue.
I’m not usually a big fan of contemporary, but this was amazing. The hook speaks for itself, as does the inciting incident. It feels raw and real and (although I think this word is slightly overused) compelling. You really feel for Mya and her struggle.
It was really good and it caught my attention almost straight away and you don’t have to wait for a long time before anything exciting happens.
For the particular competition those quotes were from, I didn’t get anywhere because the final judge (who was a child reader) abstained from giving my chapters a score as they were too mature for them. Again, entirely fair, but also disappointing.
So near but yet so far!
All the agents at the SCBWI conference I mentioned earlier were positive but none so positive they thought they could actually sell the book. What I find most interesting of all, however, is that after I gave my presentation, I had so many people from the audience telling me they wanted the book. Honestly, so many.
So, with all that said… I promised you an announcement, and here it is:
I’ve decided to crowdfund the publication of Full Term. This is the first time I’ve mentioned this piece of news publicly, and I’m already nearing the 50% mark. Which tells me that yes, people really do like it. Let’s prove once and for all that there is a market!
Click here for full details of the crowdfunding campaign. It runs until November 30th.