2020 got off to a bad start, with a rejection for Just Say It.

Dear Tessa Barrie

Many thanks for sending me this material, which I read with interest.

Although I have considered this carefully, I’m afraid it just doesn’t quite grab my imagination in the way that it must for me to offer to represent it.

So I shall have to go with my gut instinct and pass on this occasion. I’m sorry to be so disappointing, but thanks for thinking of us. Of course, this is a totally subjective view, so do keep trying other agents and I sincerely wish you every success with it elsewhere.

In the words of fellow WordPress blogger, Jack Fisher, in his August 2018 post, Publishing Update:  Another (Expected) Rejection,

‘It wasn’t the rude kind (of rejection), though. The editor offered me a sincere apology that they would not be able to publish my work.’  Jack Fisher

Nonetheless, it wasn’t a good start to 2020, and 2020 went on to be a pretty crap year for us all.

Throughout (the first) 2020 Lockdown, I edited the manuscript. Then, I was extremely fortunate to have input from two editors and, after implementing their suggestions, by October 2020, I felt I had a much tighter manuscript.

I sent off the first three submissions this week but, I am still bracing myself for rejections.  Rejections are just part of the process in the quest to find the right agent which, in my experience, is a bit like trying to find the proverbial needle in the haystack.


For us debut novelists, our first novel is a leap of faith.  During the weeks and months, it takes to write our novel – in my case with Just Say It, 5.4 years, we have no idea whether our 80,000-word ± manuscript is going to appeal to a wider audience.

In the seclusion of our writing space, we morph into our characters.  Once inside their heads, we put them in impossible circumstances, deliberately inventing scenarios to hinder their progress, then spend hours pondering over the best way to get them out. It is an emotionally draining process. I have shed every tear Lisa Grant has cried, and I’ve felt her pain.

Once you have the beginning and the middle of your story, you need an end which, if you get it right, will leave the reader thinking, I wasn’t expecting that.

Will an alien spacecraft rescue your protagonist?  Will there be a melodramatic meltdown?  Will your main character finally find love?  Will he or she manage a James Bond-esque escape or…try to see the funny side?

“I will go to my grave in a state of abject endless fascination that we all have the capacity to become emotionally involved with a personality that doesn’t exist.”

Berkeley Breathed

Whatever genre you wrap your story up in, once you have finished writing it, after however many weeks and months it takes to reach The End, the next step is to get people to read it.


You start dropping hints to your readaholic friends that you would like them to read it while trying not to appear overly pushy.  Please, don’t do what I did.  Don’t give them the first or even the second draft, because they’ll come back to you and say isn’t it great that you’ve chosen writing as your hobby?  Although it will make you freak out and rewrite frenziedly, many times over.  Which is no bad thing but, give them the eighth, preferably the ninth draft to be on the safe side, when, hopefully, they will come back and say yeah, I really enjoyed it.

By this time, you will have also read a fair amount of it to your Writer’s Group, in your best Am Dram voice and have had complimentary feedback from other members, which you hope is not down to your theatrical overtones.

You’ve entered a bit of your manuscript into a few competitions and, although you haven’t made any shortlists, you’ve taken on board some of the interesting feedback you’ve had.  In my case … amuse rather than bludgeon the reader with witty lines.  The last thing I want to do is bludgeon anybody willing to read my book.😟

You’ll have written the synopsis, well, you have written hundreds of different versions of the damn thing which you don’t think does your story justice, but you pick what you think is the best one and send it off with your query letter and wait.

This is the point where you need to start managing your expectations. My carefully chosen mantra is rejection is not the end, although it might feel like it, it’s just a step on the path.  Be brave, keep the faith and it will happen.

In the meantime, congratulations to my friend, Razni Sharma, whose book, The Tattered Society: A collection of Short Stories, has just arrived on Amazon.