As I mentioned at the beginning of the year, I sent The Ghost Effect – my less-than-polished-but-still-readable novel -- to my agent for feedback. I think I also hinted at the confused nature and general rubbishness of an earlier version of this story that I sent to her last April. Since her rejection of that previous effort, I have been to the very edge of misery and back over this book, so I hope you'll forgive me if much of this post comes across as rather smug. My agent really likes my book!
In fact, two agents (same agency) read The Ghost Effect, and they have both responded very positively. Having struggled so hard for almost a year -- somehow finding the will to go on despite writing for weeks without a glimpse of Natasha, hounded continually by Boris -- I can't tell you how relieved I am that someone experienced thinks that my novel is 'clever and exciting, which is a tough combination!' and that the '...beginning chapters (are) quite brilliant – exciting and original and promising the kind of novel you just can't put down.'
Light that up and smoke it, Boris!
Best of all is the fact that they don't think I need to make any substantial changes before TGE goes out on submission. However, there are a great many typos, clichés and baggy bits to sort out, and one or two areas that might need a little more explanation. Also, there's a feeling that it's a little long (perhaps up to 5,000 words) but at least there's no obvious place to make a cut. No stray or pointless scenes, and no wandering off down side alleys like last time.
Very interestingly, my agent thinks my main character should be a year or so older (he's thirteen right now), an idea that has occurred to me again and again. She refers to the text as 'teen fiction' (YA in the US), and I find it such a relief to have this pointed out by someone else. I don't want to deny 9 or 10-year-olds, but writing for them is very difficult, and it doesn't come naturally to me. So I was writing for teens after all!
Agents aren't the only ones reading my novel. Fellow novelist and blogger Simon Kewin has also been feeding remarks back to me as he has the time to read, and he has been very positive too. Simon's point of view is especially interesting as he has a writer's perspective. I'm sure he'll correct me if I'm wrong, but Simon is a more experienced writer than I am, with a firm grasp of the crafting aspects of storytelling, as well as an unforgiving approach to clichés and muddled phrases. Simon's input is of great value as I head toward the next step: a final revision, and then out to a real editor or two.
(My wife has also read TGE, but I'm planning a future post about close family as readers, and I'll embarrass her with compliments then.)
My agent's last e-mail ends appropriately with a reminder that 'the market is very tough at the moment'. And so having crowed a bit, I'll now go back to drinking too much coffee and biting my nails over the whole thing, very aware that The Ghost Effect is far from out of the woods yet, and may, as with my first novel, end up with no offers at all. But in the meantime, as Natasha opens the door and lets Boris back in, I hope you won't begrudge me my small moment of celebration.