Sign up for our weekly newsletter
Green Light in the City

I write therefore I am

19 February 11 words: Adam Charles
Sick of generic rejection letters from publishers? This entrepreneur thinks he might just have the solution
The reason publishers rarely read unsolicited manuscripts...

For me, and maybe for you too, admitting to being an unpublished writer is sort of a little bit like admitting to having contracted some disease in some bizarre circumstance. However, here I am, admitting to Leftlion readers that I am an unpublished writer; further to this that I'm oddly proud of it too.  This feels good, cathartic almost, like my first night at Writers’ Anonymous.

It's been a long time coming too.  I spent most of my younger days reading all sorts of books, with a keen (perhaps unhealthy) weighting towards counter-culture.  I’ve also had all sorts of jobs over the years but always come back to the fact that I’m just enthralled by literature - basically what I’ve learnt about myself is that the gratuitous acts of writing and reading just do it for me.

So, a few years ago I decreed that no longer would I watch from afar, no more would I be content with solely reading, I wanted to become part of the writing world, a world where ideas and images conjured by language are king. With my mission confirmed I set down to diligently sketch out a story that had been bouncing around in my head for the best part of a decade.  It went well, the words flowed, my pen moved effortlessly and almost supernaturally across the page: I was fulfilling my dream of writing and it had begun.

I reached a fair point, some 30,000 or so words and had judiciously self-edited two or three times.  I decided that it was time, time to send off my baby to be critiqued by those in the know to see if my delusions had any substance at all.  I packaged up the first few chapters, bought a load of 90p stamps and enough envelopes to send to a variety of publishing industry bodies. 

I waited and I waited and finally they started to return home to me.

I opened the first one with adolescent enthusiasm, tearing at the envelope.  Sadly, all that was contained inside was the returned, unmarked, extracts I had sent and a standard rejection note written on a tiny complements slip.  I, however, was not deterred.  I posted off another tranche of submissions.  The curse of the standard rejection letter continued. 

Rejection slips have their uses, such as covering up chips in the wall...

Were they even reading it?  Surely they could pass some kind of judgement?  Surely I could get more feedback than this? Doubt began to creep in - just stick with the day job, even though it provides zero intellectual or metaphysical nourishment - just stick with it.

After three tranches of submissions I coalesced, none-the-wiser.  I didn’t know whether I had something entertaining - perhaps even interesting - to say or if I should just stick to reading other people’s ideas and give up on my dream of writing.  I wasn’t upset or disappointed, I just wanted to know whether it was me or the system that had so effortlessly cast me aside.

Research followed into all the facets of the agencies, editing, and publishing process.

A couple of years ago I eventually hit upon an idea. If the professionals can’t tell me, then how can technology help me to find out whether my work is any good or not?  I trawled the internet but couldn’t find anything that I could use for these objectives.  This is where the first seed began to grow for our new website for unpublished writers -

In 2010 we began building out this idea; the seed began to germinate.  An online community for unpublished writers by unpublished writers.  A democratic cyber-city where writers can upload, sell, and receive ratings and reviews on their hard work.  Where unpublished writers can sell their passion for writing as well as their stories.  A place where readers can provide direct feedback direct to writers, have access to them and become part of the writing process.  A brave new world in the dynamic between unpublished writers and readers everywhere. 

After all, the only way to know if what you’ve written is any good is to have other people read it - you might not sell 1m copies but that doesn’t mean that what you have to say, the story you have to tell, isn’t worth the paper or screen it’s printed on.  The only way to know is to put it out there and let other people decide. From my research I’m pretty sure that in this ultra-connected Internet age that even the most niche literature can find an enthusiastic readership somewhere - it’s just a matter of reaching them.

With these ideas I assembled the team, found the money from somewhere and we set to work on building the website.

I’m delighted to say that we successfully launched our Registration Page in December 2010 and are now looking to launch the full site during the first few months of 2011.  It’s been going extremely well and we’re surpassing website hits and registration targets each week - which is fantastic.

You can register now to be given pre-launch access to the site to upload your work before anyone else and you’ll also be automatically entered our competition to win an eReader at the site’s full launch.Looking forward to having you as part of our new community.

Adam is a founding Director of the new website for unpublished writers to upload, sell, and receive ratings & reviews on their work: Visit them to find out more at:  

We have a favour to ask…

LeftLion is Nottingham’s meeting point for information about what’s going on in our city, from the established organisations to the grassroots. We want to keep what we do free to all to access, but increasingly we are relying on revenue from our readers to continue. Can you spare a few quid each month to support us?

Support LeftLion now