Category Archives: Memoir

Why don’t agents reply?

About the others who had trouble getting published
About the others who had trouble getting published

In the old days we had to include a stamped and addressed postcard with our submissions sent by snail post, but at least you could be sure they had got there when your postcard came back.

Now, even if you include a polite request for an acknowledgment, many agents don’t bother to send one or answer subsequent emails. On  the whole emails get to their destination but most of us have problems with our emails  from time to time.
I know literary agents are busy and overwhelmed and all that, but it’s so easy to set up an ‘out of office’ type reply. Elaine Borish charts the initial failure of 33 famous authors from Jane Austen to Zane Grey to get published, but at least they did get replies!!

The Madeleine Milburn Literary, TV & Film Agency  is a paragon of virtue in this matter. Their reply to a submission was by return:
Thank you very much for your email.
For all writers, this is to acknowledge receipt of your work. We personally read everything that comes into the MM Agency and will respond directly within the next twelve weeks if we are considering representation. Do let us know straight away if another agent requests your complete manuscript or, indeed, if you receive an offer of representation.  If you have not heard from us within twelve weeks, please take this to mean that we are no longer considering representation. Regrettably, we do not have the time to respond individually to each submission due to the sheer volume that the agency receives and the necessity of fulfilling our obligations to our existing clients. If you do not receive a response, please do not be downhearted. We receive a lot of very strong material but have to feel incredibly passionate about it from the moment we start reading in order to champion it effectively. This makes it a very personal decision, and one which might well differ from other agents.  Many thanks for sending us your work, and we look forward to reading it.
With my best wishes, Madeleine Milburn

Why can’t the others do the same?? It’s unreasonable to expect critiques or advice from agents – though some agents took the time to add an encouraging explanation to their ‘No’  to Woman in a White Coat – but an automatic acknowledgment takes virtually no effort once it is set up.

My new addiction – adult colouring books

One of my birthday presents
One of my birthday presents

It all started with the TV programme on the Creative Brain. To get the creative juices flowing,  you should relax, not do nothing but do something mindless and repetitive. My son Bernard and grand-daughter, Rebecca, had come to dinner. Becky and I said together – ‘Adult Colouring Books’ and then, of course, we had to say ‘Rabbits’ as you do when two people say the same thing.  So Bernard bought me this lovely one for my birthday. Hard to tear myself away and get on with sending my memoir Woman in a White Coat to a publisher that accepts unsolicited submissions.
Wish me luck.  it’s October 13 and 13 is my lucky number

M is for memoir, Woman in a White Coat

It's fantastic!!
It’s fantastic!!

Can’t quite believe it but it’s true. My memoir Woman in a White Coat has been short-listed for the Tony Lothian Biographers Club  prize.

And they were very complimentary about my writing: I’m writing to tell you that you have been shortlisted for this prize, with your submission ‘Woman in a White Coat’. The judges were immensely impressed by the story you tell and the way you tell it. 

No bites from agents yet but hopefully being shortlisted will help.

Waterstones – Another Great London Bookstore

Waterstones Piccadilly
Waterstones Piccadilly

We always knew the building as Simpsons of Piccadilly where you went to buy posh clothes and DAKS trousers. Opened as a clothes store in 1936, it was sold to Waterstones in 1999, and is now their Flagship Store.

The competition
The competition: memoirs on display in Waterstones

I’ve had straight ‘no’s’ from four agents and two very nice rejections from two others. One said:

I’m afraid I concluded that while it is full of charm and interest, and is undoubtedly well written, I just don’t think it is quite strong enough overall to compete in the memoir market. But do try other agents, and if ultimately you draw a blank, I would encourage Abby to self-publish, as there is a lot of historical detail in her book and it would be nice if it entered the public domain. I was very pleased to have the chance to read A Woman in White and I wish  Abby every success with it.

When you look at the bios on display at Waterstones it’s obvious you need to be a celebrity or maybe a villain to be certain of publication.

Waiting on two more agents and if they say ‘no’ will go for e-publishing.

Done and dusted!!

Liverpool Library. Will my book ever join them?
Liverpool Library. Will my book ever join them?

Finally checked all 17 chapters (95k words) of Woman in a White Coat for typos and clunky bits; double-spaced them, compiled them into one manuscript and emailed it all to Stephanie.

Do you think it would help if I crossed my eyes as well as my fingers and toes?

Memories I didn’t put in my memoir

EH0791. When I was 2½ my mother took my dummy away. i can remember being pushed in a heavy metal pushchair in Petticoat Lane. My dummy was always tied with a ribbon to a safety pin in my coat or dress and it was gone. I was desolate.

2. A fellow student said he’d ask me to marry him if I’d promise to say No. He said it was to be sure at least one person would ask. I was 18 at the time!!

3. Age 14, being caught without an underground ticket and saying I’d got on later than I did.  I had visions of police and having to go to court but luckily the ticket inspector took pity on me and let me go. I never ever did it again. My mother would never have forgiven me for ‘showing her up’.

Now the waiting begins

Taormina Fountain

Stephanie liked my Synopsis and says she’s ready to send it out to Agents. No doubt months of waiting to come. Feel rather guilty at being abrupt with an agent who hadn’t replied to a previous submission after 8 weeks. Now realise it’s the norm to have to wait 2 or 3 months.

Getting Started

Anyone for Tea

Knitted this tribute to Vivienne Westwood so long ago, I don’t remember how I did it all. Machine knitting was one of the many classes I went to after I retired besides writing. Over the years I went to art history, drawing. painting, cooking, dressmaking, music theory. piano. Spanish, Basque, philosophy and more.

I made a couple of jumpers on my knitting machine but mainly knitted lengths of knitting using pure wool. I then felted it in the washing machine and used the fabric to make myself and my partner fleeces that were light but very warm. I sold my knitting machines some years ago and don’t miss them. The clothes you make yourself seem to last forever. You wish they would wear out so you could buy new ones. Now I mainly use my sewing machines for repairs but recently I did make a complete new set of cushion covers for out living room .