Never give up – Colette McCormick

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By Colette McCormick

I don’t claim to be an authority on being a writer but when I was asked recently what my one piece of advice would be to someone who shares my dream it was simple. Never give up.

Finding that elusive book deal isn’t just a matter of telling a good story, a lot of it is down to luck. It’s about showing your work to the right person at the right time.

I have to be honest, my book Things I Should Have Said and Done was rejected by more than one agent/publisher before being taken on by the lovely people at Accent Press. But, when it comes to writing, rejection is part of the game so all I could do was take it on the chin and try to find something positive to take out of the experience.

I tried to be objective after the first couple of rejections and asked myself a couple of questions. Did I truly think the book was any good and would I have enjoyed it if I had picked it off a shelf in a book shop? In all honesty my answer was yes to both questions but that was just my opinion. I needed to find someone who believed in it as much as I did. And that’s what the submission process is.

One agent did me a massive favour when they said that they liked the first three chapters but wanted me to ditch one of the main characters. Having hooked a bit of interest and eager to get a deal I rewrote the chapters without the offending character, sent the manuscript back and spent the next few weeks planning how I was going to rewrite the book.

Eventually the email dropped into my inbox and I opened it eagerly only to read that while they liked the book they weren’t ‘in love’ with it so wouldn’t be taking the project any further. That rejection was particularly bitter because I’d thought I’d been in with a chance.

But what we all need to remember is that the people we are trying to impress make a living out of knowing what works and what doesn’t so if they take the time to write something personal rather than issue the bog standard rejection slip, we need to pay heed to their words.

So, disappointing as that particular rejection was it made me think. Was the book better without the character they wanted rid of? No, and if they’d read the full book they’d have realised that. Was the agent right about their usefulness in the first three chapters? Yes, on reflection the character wasn’t necessary at that particular part of the story. I rewrote the start, introduced the character later and the book is all the better for it.

I would dearly like to meet ‘that’ agent one day so that I can thank them for what they did for me. I didn’t get the response from them that I had hoped for but because of them the book is what it is today.

Born and raised in Yorkshire, Colette McCormick has lived in County Durham for over thirty years. Making a living and raising a family had to be her priority but she never gave up on her childhood dream of wanting to see a book that she had written published. Things I Should Have Said and Done is the fulfilment of that dream.

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