Despatches From The Querying Trenches. Kirsten Hesketh Looks Back At September.

Posted on 30th September, 2017

This week, I am delighted to welcome my good friend Kirsten back to my blog. Kirsten ran a popular series of guest blogs at the end of every month from January to June. I lured her onto my blog by suggesting a short run of blogs, thinking that would be all she would like, and she never asked to stay on because she is far too polite. Then we met up with Wendy Clarke at the RNA Conference in July and - well, let Kirsten tell you what happened next...


It’s me.


I’m back!


And I’m thrilled to be here again.


We’ve got the lovely Wendy Clarke to thank. Susanna and I met her at the (fantastic) Romantic Novelists’ Association Conference in June and Wendy was kind enough to say how much she’d enjoyed my musings. At which point I admitted I hadn’t really wanted to stop musing and Susanna said she hadn’t really wanted me to stop letting me muse so …. here I am!


I hope you’ve all had a great summer although it seems forever ago now, doesn’t it? We did a fabulous road trip down the east coast of the States culminating in the total eclipse at Charleston. We all loved it - so much so that my American teen and my British teen both want to move there! It was a total break and I didn’t really think about the writing at all. (Well, maybe a little. And I’ve got a great idea for a novel ...).


Now it’s September, the month of clean sheets and fresh starts. And I’m itching to dive back into my writing journey. But I must confess I’m a little confused as to what to do next ...


My full is with five UK agents, one US agent and one publisher. My partial is with a couple more. I would absolutely love to work with any of them. But it’s been nearly a month now - in some cases almost two - and I don’t know what that means!


Do agents and publishers usually respond to writers once they have requested the full? Maybe they have all already decided the book is not for them but the convention is not to let the author know. Maybe they just asked for the full to be kind and have no intention of reading it! In which case, how long do I wait before deducing that this is the case? Maybe I should already be drawing a line under them and editing furiously in advance of the next round of submissions …


But, then again, maybe it’s too soon. Everyone warned me that things in publishing work at a glacial pace so maybe a month or two - especially over the summer - is nothing. Maybe they haven’t got to my book yet, so to start anther edit would be silly. Maybe I should sit it out a while longer. Or maybe I could nudge. But that might be too presumptive?


You get the gist. The inside of my head is not a very restful place to living at the moment!

What would you do? What did you do if you found yourself in the same situation?

So far - because I am essentially an optimist - I have come to two conclusions. The first is that I should be proud so many people have requested the full. That must mean people who know what they are talking about think I write quite well and that I have a promising basis for a story. That’s got to be good, hasn’t it? The second is that I need to crack on with Book 2, Which I am - with gusto. The first draft is 50,000 words and counting and I am discovering that I will always be a pantser but that a little bit of plotting certainly doesn’t go amiss!


Thank you very much for reading my monthly round up. If you would like to, please do leave a comment. I am in need of as many replies as I can get right now!!




Make A Comment

Characters left: 2000

Comments (23)

Hi Jamilah,
Thank you so much for popping by and leaving a comment - much appreciated. Great advice - I hadn't factored the Frankfurt Book Fair into the equation. Anyway, I think it's a case of 'be careful what you wish for' as I have now had a rejection! Thanks again and good luck with your own writing x
Thank you Karen. Always lovely to hear from you and thank you so much for all your support as ever xxx
It’s the Frankfurt Book Fair which takes up so much prep time, and then catching up be patient with agents, follow up in a month or so, and crack on with Book Two in the meantime!
Thanks for dropping by, Karen. You're right - all this interest in Kirsten's book shows how good it must be. I hope all the positive and encouraging comments during the course of this week have convinced Kirsten she needs to get stuck into the next novel.
Love your blog, Susanna. Another inspiring post from lovely Kirsten. I do hope the agents get back to you soon. It's certainly a horrible feeling having to wait and wonder for so long. Once it's a yes though, it'll be all go so better get on with that next one. To have so many agents interested shows that your writing is powerful and your story a corker. I have everything crossed for you xx
Thank you, Jane H, Vanessa and Jane A, for your lovely comments. I'm thrilled that Kirsten's blog has generated so much interest.

Jane H - two years?! That is amazing. And at the end of it you got an acceptance. That is a story to give heart to many writers who never hear back.

Congratulations, Vanessa, on finding an agent who is interested. Wishing you all the best with your new draft.

Jane A - what a wonderful, encouraging and supportive message for Kirsten. Thanks for taking the time to write such a long comment.
Hi Jane. Thank you so much for stopping by and for leaving such a supportive and encouraging comment. Really appreciate it xxx
Hi Kirsten.

Great that you were invited to write on your kind friend Susanna Bavin's Blog again. She seems like a lovely woman.

Great to hear about your Summer travels and adventures. Road trips are great aren't they? My experience was on the West Coast of the US, from Santa Barbara to San Francisco, which I loved, but I haven't had a road trip along the East Coast. It would be great to hear more about your most recent US experience.

Thank you for bringing us up to date with your writing work/adventure. I was wondering what was happening... I do not have much first hand experience of the book writing and publishing world. I have added to my understanding from your experiences and those of your literary friends/colleagues...

For what it is worth, to me it feels right that you are approaching things, with your optimistic outlook and attitude... Of the two conclusions you have suggested as to what is happening with your novel and the way that you could move on from here, I personally believe that adopting both of your conclusions seems wise, i.e.....

'The first is that you should be proud that so many people have requested the full. That must mean people who know what they are talking about think you write quite well and that you do have a promising basis for a story.'
AND the second conclusion...
That you should get going with your second novel...

You definitely are a writer, Kirsten. I have known of your love of writing and your desire to pursue a literary path since I first met you, when we both worked at Connexions. You must continue along this path. I know it must be tough, but I also know it is your dream... Follow your dream.

The best-est of positive thoughts and vibes to you, lovely.

Jane xxx
Hi Vanessa! Dancing in the dark eh? Memories of school discos. And Bruce Springsteen of course, (my favourite!)! Yes, I'm going to nudge in a couple of weeks.
Thanks for keeping us up to date with your news. Have you nudged the agents you haven't heard from since May yet? Someone - can't remember who - told me they used to submit in batches of six and as soon as a rejection came through, they sent another out. That way, they always had six 'live'.
What's the next book about?
What about that lunch in Oxford?
Soon .....? xx
I love that, Jane. Two years??!!! And it led to a 'yes'! What a fabulously inspirational story!!

I'm going to leave it a few weeks and then query. In the meantime, I'm getting on with Book 2. Thanks so much for the advice and support xx
Hurrah, you're back! It's all a bit like dancing in the dark : you don't know if you're about to tread on a toe or kiss!
I reckon after two months, it must be okay to send a nudge email ... one months seems a tad impatient. Bit it must be such a confidence boost to have it out with so many ... :D
For the record, since May I've had 3 rejections and 3 no replies for Fly Girl ... excited about my new pitch at FoW which has an agent interested ... so frantically carving out first draft.
Many years ago, I sent a partial to a fairly well-known publisher who shall remain nameless, and then sat back and waited. I finally queried after TWO YEARS. The editor was deeply apologetic, admitted it had fallen down the back of a sofa - metaphorically speaking - and asked me to resubmit. A week later, he got back to me and offered me a contract. I went on to write 6 books with that publisher. So never give up, never surrender!!

I believe it's customary to wait 6 weeks before querying. But while waiting, yes, absolutely, keep writing book 2. Or even book 3, if it comes to that. Or a novella. Agents particularly like authors who are productive and committed, and nothing says that better than another finished novel or two. Good luck!
Haha! You're right - it does feel like no news since the dawn of time - longer in fact. Thank you so much for you comment Jen and for all your support. I am plugging on with Book Two and calming myself with ice cream - I had a particularly delicious salted caramel one at the theatre yesterday
How lovely to hear from you, Jen, and thank you for welcoming Kirsten back again. I agree - I know Kirsten feels like she has been waiting since the dawn of time, but a couple of months isn't that long in publishing terms, especially when you factor in the summer holidays. And, yes, it is essential to keep on writing. Any interested agent or publisher will want to know what else is in progress. Thanks for commenting, Jen.
Lovely to have you back on Susanna's blog, Kirsten. And congratulations on having so many requests for the full manuscript. You need to celebrate that important achievement and milestone in your writing journey.

Sometimes agents and publishers give an indication on their websites as to what their usual turnaround time for responses is. If not (and in my limited experience), one to two months isn't very long and summer was in the middle.

And yes, do keep cracking on with book two. Also in my experience, the best way to cope with waiting (and obsessive checking of the email inbox/hitting the refresh key!) is to continue writing.

Good luck!
Thanks for stopping by Kate. I really wish I could see it as an amazing achievement but, at the moment it seems likes 'so near and yet so far' and that it might never happen. Still, onwards and upwards and celebrate each success!! .... Best of luck with your own writing - I'm really looking forward to reading your books xx
Great to hear from you Jan - and hope you've had a fabulous summer! Thanks for the support and encouragement and best of luck with your own writing. Keeping everything crossed for you!! xx
Thanks Sarah. It's so hard to know what to do, isn't it? I think I will wait until the end of October and then drop them a friendly line. They're all fab agents - I'd be thrilled to work with any of them! Thanks for your interest and support and good luck with your own writing xx
Thanks, Jan and Kate, for your comments and your words of encouragement - and admiration - for Kirsten. It is remarkable, isn't it, that she has had such success when approaching agents. I don't know of anyone else whose novel has attracted so much interest, especially not all at once.
I wish I could give you some advice, but I’ve never been so successful with submissions! That’s an amazing achievement, and you should definitely be proud - agents are far too busy to request a full unless they think it’s special. From my limited experience, it does seem important to have the next book well in hand, so you can try for a two book deal. Best of luck! x
Lovely to see you back on Susannah's wonderful blog, Kirsten. Wow! That's some tally of agents as well as a publisher reading your complete manuscripts. Very well done. It definitely means you have a good story and write well, I would think! On a much smaller scale, (mine is out with two, having heard back from a third last week), I can understand your dilemma about not hearing back after a considerable time. Getting on and finishing book two has to be the best thing to do, I'm sure, and so good luck with doing that. Thank you, Sue, for re-introducing Kirsten's 'musings' and I look forward to the next one. :-)
Hi, Sarah. Yes, Kirsten's success is quite astonishing, isn't it? I don't know of anyone else who has had so many full MSs out at the same time. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
Your full MS has been requested by six agents and one publisher???

Sounds amazing! I can't really give you much advice because I've never been in exactly your situation, however that sounds extremely promising. I think, under the circumstances, that it might be worth dropping your preferred agent(s) a friendly line, asking how things are going. Anyway, you have both my admiration and my sympathy. It's terrible trying to second guess, worrying whether contact will look keen or desperate. Best of luck!