Lochlan Bloom: How The Writers’ Workshop critique helped my novel find a publisher

We always love to hear about our clients’ success stories, and here Lochlan Bloom has written an article so that you can read about his success too.  – The Writers’ Workshop

There are numerous articles out there about how to get published, and it would be great to be able to write one of those ‘five simple steps to get published’ articles, but the truth is I don’t know. I’m not sure anyone knows.
What I do know is that getting real, detailed feedback and analysis on my writing has been instrumental in becoming a better writer, and more importantly getting to the point where I can make a living from putting words together on a page.

When I think back to sending the manuscript for my novel ‘The Wave’ to The Writers’ Workshop it seems almost unreal that it will now be a real, physical hardback next year, and the path it has taken is certainly not one I could have predicted.
When I initially sent my manuscript my focus was on getting an agent. I had received a stack of rejection letters already and was looking for a way to get out of the slush pile.

The idea of getting a professional critique seemed a good way to connect with agents, especially as a few of my rejection letters seemed to indicate that the agent had read the manuscript and ‘got’ the story but was uncertain about its commercial appeal.
Writing weird meta-fiction and having a whole section written in screenplay format was never going to be the easiest sell but I thought some professional approval from a critique agency might improve the odds.

I didn’t have any clear expectations, but in a worst case scenario I envisioned that the manuscript would be shipped off to a reader with a stack of twenty novels to get through before lunchtime, who would write a brief report and include some vague praise.

What I got was vastly different – a detailed analysis of the story by someone that had not only read it but had obviously spent some time really thinking about it.
The Writers’ Workshop connected me with a great editor, Andrew Wille, and his analysis was not only useful at a practical level but also gave me an insight as to how my writing really came across.
Until then most of the feedback I had received was either from people who said ‘Yeah that’s great! It’s going to be a huge success’, or from people that had scratched their head and said they didn’t really understand why the second chapter was in screenplay format.

Having someone who I could actually speak to and discuss what was and wasn’t working was a huge help and it was a great reassurance to hear someone in the industry positive and pragmatic about what steps I should take.

It was thanks to this analysis that I was able to tighten up some of the sections of the novel that weren’t working so well and what traps to beware of. It not only gave me a great perspective on my own writing but also gave me the confidence to approach more agents.
I sent out another thirty submission letters, convinced that these changes would lead to success…but instead I just received more rejection letters. At this point I was thinking of giving up on the book and focused my energy instead on other writing projects but all the time I felt there was potential in the story.

In the end, it was through some of my other writing that I first connected with Dead Ink, the publisher which will release ‘The Wave’. They are a small UK press and were looking for authors that were producing different, challenging writing and contacted me through my website after reading some of my work.
Their PublishingTheUnderground.com initiative has allowed the book to connect with readers in a way that I doubt would have been possible with a more traditional publisher and it is exciting to see pre-orders rolling in before the book is even out.

The feedback I got from The Writers’ Workshop and resultant work I put into polishing ‘The Wave’ meant I was not only focusing on my writing in a different way, but was also confident enough to set up my website in the first place, and of course it meant I had a really polished manuscript ready to send.

 

‘The Wave’ will be published by Dead Ink on 29 January 2016 as  part of their New Voices list. It comthe wavebines three narratives to blend metafiction, historical fiction and screenplay and is now available for pre-order http://bit.ly/The_Wave.

Submissions for Dead Ink’s New Voices 2016 list opened earlier this month. 

Author’s Biography:
The BBC Writersroom describe Lochlan Bloom’s writing as ‘unsettling and compelling… vivid, taut and grimly effective work’. He has written for BBC Radio Scotland, H+ Magazine , Ironbox Films and Calliope, the official publication of the Writers’ Special Interest Group (SIG) of American Mensa, amongst others. Lochlan lives in London and is still looking for an agent.  For more details visit www.lochlanbloom.com

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