The Narrow Path to Publishers

Thought it was about time I updated you on how my efforts to get my book into print are going.

The latest publisher I have approached is small publisher Flame Books.

I e-mailed an early draft to their submissions a couple of years ago and was surprised to get a phone call from them saying they liked it and could I send the full script to them. (I had to lie on the floor for ten minutes afterwards to recover.) Unfortuantely the company went through some changes shortly after and my book fell through the gaps.

They now seem to have restructured with the departure of Matthew Ward who founded the company in 2003. I e-mailed them at the start of the summer saying I had edited the book with the help of Cornerstones and Sean Wood replied asking to see the book. Posted the slab a few weeks ago (printing the book double spaced and single sided doesn't half produce a bulk of paper). Waiting to hear from them.
Tum t tum.
That's another minute gone. Wait is that the phone?

The other thing I am trying at the moment is the site:

"Each month, the Top 5 new writers receive a free critique from editors for leading literary agents and publishers, including Curtis Brown, Orion & Bloomsbury. "

The idea is that you upload the first few chapters of your book. Then every time you review another persons work you earn a credit. Each credit sends your work out to another person on the site to be reviewed. After 5 reviews the book enters the top 10 list if it scores high enough.

I have had 4 reviews so far, 3 of which were good and 1 who didn't like it at all!

I enjoyed the sample chapters. I liked the way you used Biblical names for your characters and gave little snippets of information about their backgrounds. The main characters were well drawn, but I found it a little confusing with the flash backs and had to re-read to make sense of who each of the characters were and how they related to one another. Your dialogue moves the narrative forward and works well to reveal the personalities of your characters. Settings were particularly well done and contributed to the atmosphere of the story. All in all a good read. Best wishes

I imagine this will be one of your first reviews so I'll try and be nice, although that doesn't mean I'm about to say how fantastic this work is, because in my humble opinion it isn't.
But that doesn't mean it isn't without merit in some areas. I like your descriptives but there are too many metaphors, especially in the first few paragraphs and the word bubble/s must have been used 30 times. Some of the time the narrative was clear, others it was muddled. I didn't find the dialogue convincing either. Would two strangers on a train really launch straight into an intense conversation like that? There were some good lines within this work like diamonds in the rough. The talent of being a writer, I believe, is being about to recognise the good from the bad.

You write beautifully and have original and fresh prose, including the dandelion tree, which is an arresting image. I can see that this novel has great depth and is clearly carefully constructed, and the story, which is not clear from the brief seems to have elements of fantasy woven through it (which I think the intro should allude to.) However (there’s always one of them) I think you have overwritten this – too many similes, too many images – in other words a touch of purple prose (getting carried away with the words and writing and creating originality.) The effect on this is that it slows the pace down too much, and I found myself wanting to skip a lot of the paragraphs particularly about shaving, which happens twice, I am sure for a reason, but the second time I felt my interest wane. This abundance of description also serves to hold me at a distance, and I craved more dialogue and action particularly between Isaac and Jane.

My suggestion would be to cut a lot of this description, you can thread it back in later and get the hooks in, as I reader I was struggling to see where this was going (though I am sure it does get more engrossing). The start really needs to grab attention and hold it.

I found The Dandelion Tree a clever and challenging piece of writing. It definitely fits well within the genre of literary fiction. Some of the writing is very poetic, in the use of description and condensation of thoughts.
Your style is characterised by a strong use of metaphor, some of which are both excellent and thought provoking. Such as 'life squeezed through a spell checker' which was evocative and linked in theme to what was happeneing.Although, occasionally they don't fit well with the rest of the paragraph and read a little clunkily.
I particularly liked the couple sections, Abe and Keturah and Isaac and Jane. This was clear and demanded no re-reading. I was finding it necessary to re-read some of the other sections as it was elusive on my first read. It may be worth looking at this and re-reading as if it were your first read. I tihnk this piece has lots of potential with some tightening up of structure so it flows more for the reader.

Waiting for my fifth review to see how the book scores.

And (this is the good bit for people who have read the whole post): The prologue, Chapter 1, 2 and THREE are on the site! So you can read chapter 3 ahead of the Diggers right here!

Keep it quite from my other blog, Tales From the Tree which is trying to get Diggs to release chapter 3.


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