Prove that A Conscious Englishman is worth publishing.StreetBooks accepted the novel in principle but fired an author questionnaire at me. It seemed to want me to convince them that the novel would find readers:
'Why does the market need this novel?' 'What makes this novel unique?' 'What will be the primary readership? Secondary readership? Competitors? Related books? Endorsements?'
(I wasn't sure what secondary readership meant - is it when someone passes a book on to someone else so they didn't actually buy it? Perhaps not.)
Somehow I managed to answer these questions convincingly enough - it is surprising how much you will have picked up in talking to people, reading articles, journals and on radio, around your theme. I was lucky in having been a member of the Edward Thomas Fellowship and Friends of the Dymock poets(links below) for years and knowing what was happening in the ever-growing absorption with Edward Thomas.
Then the hard bit, but worthwhile - writing three summaries. Of course I had done a one page synopsis before to send to agents, but a summary is different - not telling the plot or even characters in any depth but focussing on what the novel is actually about, its themes.
This was my one sentence version:
This is the story of a man's change from despair to fulfilment through friendship and the inspiration of nature, and of the consequences of that for his family, set in the tranquil rural world of an England gradually learning the meaning of war.
Mmmmmh - would you want to read that? I'm not sure I would. It's accurate in a way, but terribly dour, even for Edward Thomas.
The 500 word summary was much more like a traditional synopsis and not so difficult.
The real challenge was the 250 word one, a length likely to be the foundation of the dreaded blurb. I will come to it tomorrow.
Because of the season, Robert Frost's After Apple-Picking. I heard Gabriel Woolf read this last Sunday at Malvern- the humour and exhaustion came across wonderfully. And that marvellous line on the lingering sense of the ladder-rung on your foot! Exactly.
I have made the blog more comment-friendly I hope, so if you tried and failed, do try again. Thanks.
Links: www.edward-thomas-fellowship.org.uk, www.dymockpoets.co.uk