1. Write a damn good book. (Convince yourself it's word-perfect; show it to no one who might cast doubt on this conviction)
2. Pitch the book to the right agent in the prescribed manner. (Or not. Don't let submission guidelines get in your way; this book can't be pinned down in a paragraph)
3. Practice patience. (Chase after two weeks. That's plenty of time for the book's brilliance to have penetrated)
4. Submit a full ms on request in the prescribed manner. (Convince yourself this is it: your genius is about to be universally acknowledged and rewarded)
5. Accept the rejection with good grace, putting it to one side if necessary until you are in the right frame of mind to read it as the valuable information you need to get better at what you do. (Curse and pity the poor fools who didn't have the wit to recognise genius when they read it; do not entertain the idea that they know more than you do about books and publishing)
6. Start a new book, keeping close at hand the rejection letter that contained vital information about what you needed to do to get further this time. (Start a new book ignoring that ridiculous rejection, which you've torn up in any case)
7. Pitch and submit as earlier. (Give it another shot, possibly mentioning the idiots that turned down your previous work of genius)
8. Accept the rejection with good grace, learning from it all that you can. (Wonder what is wrong with a world that can reject you twice. Storm. Rant. Flounce. Better: do it on your blog, naming and shaming those who thwarted you. Alternatively, curl up in a ball and never come out)
9. Repeat steps six to eight, as required. (Give up. Tell yourself it's because you're too good to get published)
On Tuesday, I was lucky enough to be signed by Gregory & Company, a fantastic agency that specialises in crime and thrillers. I had previously submitted three other novels, all of which were read in full by Jane Gregory's team, all of which were rejected with two pages of feedback that helped me to see why they weren't books that could be published easily, or even at all. My fourth attempt needs work, of course it does. But thanks to a brilliant team at the agency, and an editor who knows exactly how to lead a writer through what's needed, I feel enthused rather than daunted. In fact, I'm dying to get stuck into the changes.
'You've been trying us for some time,' Jane said when we met.
'I'm famed for my stamina,' I confessed.
Not to mention bloody-mindedness, but also as it turns out, the ability to listen to what I'm told and to know that a good writer can always - ALWAYS - be a better writer. This was driven home to me when I read Jane's interview for Mslexia, where she talks about what it takes to be signed by her and to make it as a writer.
Keep the faith, take advice from the experts, never give up.