From August 2004 through to July 2005 I continued to re-write A Half Life of One. In its original version a lot of it took place in flashback (I'll explain why once its published if anyone is interested), but I switched this to a straightforward historical sequence to try and build up the tension as events unfolded.
On July 18th after maybe a dozen re-writes I submitted the book to Curtis Brown in London. A month later they sent me back a form postcard of rejection - unsigned.
On July 27th I e-mailed three chapters to Wade & Doherty. Two days later they turned it down by e-mail saying the following:
Many thanks for sending us this material, which I read with interest. Although it’s certainly inventive, I’m afraid it just doesn’t quite grab my imagination in the way that it must for me to offer to represent it. So I must follow my gut instinct and pass on this occasion. I’m sorry to be so disappointing, but thanks for thinking of us. Of course this is a totally subjective judgement, so do try other agents and I wish you every success. "
I don't know if this is a form rejection or not but at least it was extremely prompt (and courteous), and for that at least Wade & Doherty deserve thanks.
Finally, on August 4th I sent the first three chapters out to Greene & Heaton. They said no thanks on the 25th via an unsigned form letter.
In total I sent the book out to 13 agents. 3 didn't read it. At least 2 read the first three chapters for certain. No one really liked it.
Incidentally, to put things in perspective, the Ampersand Agency, who did read the book and took the trouble to make detailed suggestions, currently receive over 100 submissions a week and sound a little overwhelmed right now.
I'm not sure whether I should have given up at this point or not. How many agents do you need to turn your book down before you know it's no good? Should I have tried sending it directly to a few small publishers? Maybe I should have paid to have it professionally edited or reviewed?
Or maybe I should simply have cracked on with writing my next book.