in News, Writing tips

Reaching for the stars

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t believe I’m the most skilled writer when it comes to literary technique. I try to worry as little as possible about using the methods that make writers ‘brilliant’, such as skilful placement of similes, metaphors, alliterations, and instead try to use the simplest language possible to convey action in a flow with imagery akin to a movie.

Less critical, or more ‘casual’ readers tend to enjoy my books, since as readers they focus more on the plot rather than the literary devices I use and, as such, many of them have suggested that my novels would make great movies, which was my initial aim: to have people ‘see’ the story as a movie played out in their head.

When I first started writing, I shot myself in the foot by submitting to literary agents too early, when my style was still underdeveloped. My writing and narrative was clunky, filled with many, ‘look at how clever I am to know this!’ set-pieces. As I’ve gone on to write the rest of the trilogy, my style has developed, which forced me to go back and rewrite Synthesis:Weave 1 and republish before I launched Synthesis:Weave 2 (I didn’t want readers coming to it fresh getting the worst impression and not reading the sequel).

Having self-published the first book in the series, I further scuppered any chance of getting a literary agent. Nobody was going to buy (publishers, I mean) a book that was already out unless it got thousands of amazing reviews (I’ve had 30+ 5-star reviews). Because my attempts at marketing had been relatively fruitless, I don’t have a massive following, so that made the likelihood of getting an agent even lower.

The dream, as is the case for many writers, is to have their books made into a movie, potentially netting them thousands in rights fees and even more in additional book sales as their work enters mainstream public awareness. I thought, incorrectly, that having a literary agent and being traditionally published was the only gateway to this, until I stumbled across a tweet by a screenwriter mentioning a friend of his who had started out on his own a couple of years ago as a literary manager.

How did a manager differ from an agent? All I could gather was that a literary manager was more geared towards negotiating deals for movies, creating teams and collaborating with writers to develop a story into a workable script for a movie project.

So, in the least hopeful attempt ever, I went to Rascality Entertainment’s website and fired off a message on the contact form, including a brief paragraph about me, a potential logline (one liner about my book), the back cover blurb and the longer synopsis (a one or two page document with the major plot points and resolution).

A few days later, I had a reply from the manager, David Binns:

“Thanks for reaching out! I am always on the lookout for compelling scifi material, and to be honest, you had me at ‘tsunami on a space station’. I would love to give your work a look.”

A literary manager from LA? (Hollywood?) And I’d grabbed his interest with the first line of my blurb! I was so excited when, a few days later having read the first half of the book, he came back to me with the most positive and constructive comments I’ve had so far from anyone ‘official’ in relation to my writing:

“Thanks again for reaching out and for your patience. I gave the first half of your manuscript a read over the past week, and I was very impressed by both your world-building, the elevated-yet-relatable characters, and the genre-bending fusion of scifi and fantasy. That being said, the scope is a little bigger than what is in my target zone right now. I truly think that there is a place for this story and the tapestry you’ve created, in that the narrative does a lot of legwork towards setting itself apart in a saturated market. Personally speaking, I’m just looking for something a little more contained at this time. I really appreciate the shot, and I hope you’ll consider me for future projects.”

It was a no, but the most positive no I’ve ever had. I followed up with a copy of my short story, Synthesis:Pioneer in the hope that being set aboard a single ship and with fewer characters, it was more ‘contained’.

A couple of weeks later, he came back to me again:

“Just finished the short story, and as before, you have managed to create a large expansive world in an economical, and well-paced manner. It very much felt like it could serve as the basis for a role-reversed STORY OF YOUR LIFE-type feature. I will certainly keep both manuscripts in the front of my mind for any producers that are looking for this type of thing. Out of the two, I think Pioneer could especially serve as a ‘foot-in-the-door’ piece.

“I’m going to pass on it for now, but again, I will certainly keep this one in my back pocket, and will let you know if I receive requests for something in this zone. In the meantime, please keep me posted on any new projects, as well.”

Another no, but with good reason – Pioneer is incredibly short and needs work, but while it has promise, its just not exactly right for what he wants to do at the moment. On the upside, he’s told me my writing has merit, which is encouraging to me, and that it’s most likely just a case of finding the right person to make either of these a reality, and that he’ll keep feelers out. When I’ve got something new, I’ll try again.

So, I’m shifting my sights slightly. Originally, when I’d finished S:W 3, I was going to work on a card game based on the universe from my books, but now I’m going to finish S:W 3 and self-publish it, completing the original trilogy, then work on expanding Synthesis:Pioneer into something that could be more feature-length, without enlarging its scope. I’ve also got notes for a completely unrelated story that I may attempt to write directly as a film script. The card game will probably go on the backburner.

Yes, it’s a lottery finding the right person, so I’m now actively looking for a literary manager/producer to help bring my stories to the big screen.

If you’re a self-published author who didn’t get the sales you’d hoped, but get amazing comments about your story, consider shifting your focus. You might not be firing blank ammo – your aim may simply be a little off.