Paul Rand

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Part time secondary school teacher, married to a Methodist minister, dad to two teenagers. Currently living in Cumbria.

Enjoyed writing monologues and scripts for a while (mostly for use in church context).

Completed the first draft of my first novel early in 2020. Since then I've been trying to work out how to make it good enough for an agent to consider.

Paul Rand Discussions
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Slightly encouraged but also a little puzzled by the most personal agent rejection I've had yet...De…
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  •  · Thanks. That's helpful Libby and yes, the opening of my story is the scene in the boat.
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Following on from the great feedback received, I've reworked and shortened my synopsis and would lov…
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  •  · Yes, I've had some really helpful feedback on my first few chapters (a couple of times) here on Town…
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If you've read any of what I've posted about my WIP (Joe with an E), has it at any point made you th…
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  •  · Thanks Kate, that looks good. I've just bought the ebook and will start reading it later today.
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I'd reached the conclusion that, although concise, the most recent incarnations of my synopsis have …
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  •  · I will take a look!
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Following on from feedback last weekend, I've tried to bring in more of a sense of atmosphere and a …
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  •  · Wow, thanks Rachel. I didn't actually have any plans to post any more right now because I shared cha…
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Firstly, sorry I've been quiet on here for a while. Finding it harder to keep up with writing during…
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  •  · No problem. I can relate, I’m neck-deep into edits at the moment.

Thanks. That's helpful Libby and yes, the opening of my story is the scene in the boat.

Yes, I was amused by that too. If I'm suggesting a comp title, I want to suggest one I've actually read, but then it's me trying to impress her, not the other way around.

Hi Danny, I won't add much to what's already been said. I enjoyed reading it and although yes, in the real world, if the head looked anything like a real disembodied head, Danny's reaction ought to be more dramatic. But I can see that you're writing a humourous piece and I could accept the morbid/light-hearted banter between Danny and Ashlee and could sense Danny's uneasy wondering as things went on over what really was in (or actually under) the box on Ashlee's desk.

Also, I could imagine that a quick glance at a mummified, centuries old head on the desk might not look gruesome. I could see Danny thinking 'is that a head', no off course it's not, but saying his first thoughts before he's had a chance to process them, particularly given the jovial relationship he seems to have with Ashlee.

I agree with others that the description of the room is not quite right and that some of the dialogue probably needs tightening up a bit, even if it is realistic.

All the best with the editing.

I have been wondering about trying my luck with politely asking for clarification.

I don't think I'd ever consider  suggesting Handmaid's as a comp title because I got the impression that agents were turned off by suggestions of comp titles that were very old and/or well known. Better to suggest much more recent titles that indicate an understanding of your genre.

Yes, that's a possibility, but they'd asked for a very short synopsis so the emphasis on infertility wasn't really in there.

Added a forum 

Slightly encouraged but also a little puzzled by the most personal agent rejection I've had yet...

Dear Paul

Thank you taking the time to submit to us.

I’m sorry to say your submission has not been successful.

Whilst I was drawn in by the opening of your story, I wasn’t convinced by the larger concept. Perhaps you should find another way to explain it.

Also, being straight with you, I quickly pigeon holed your manuscript as an homage to The Hand Maid’s Tale – this was my snapshot interpretation, but as someone who hasn’t even read Margaret Atwood’s novel, I fancy other people might do the same. You should take this connection head on (if it does exist) and acknowledge the similarity whilst clearly explicating the differences.  

May you have more luck with it in the hands of another agency.

Encouraged to have such a detailed response when normally, getting even the briefest of standard rejections feels like a bonus. But puzzled because, whilst my novel has some similarities to the Handmaid's Tale (because it's dystopian), I'm not quite sure how she's ended up pigeonholing it as an homage to Handmaid's, unless it's the only dystopian novel she's ever even heard of.

But I will still draw encouragement from the fact I got such a personal reply. Unless, of course, it was a mis-sent reply to someone else who has written an homage to the Handmaid's Tale.

Hi Deborah. Glad it was helpful. Yes, it's been nice and sunny here in Cumbria today. Quite a few agents do want just a one page synopsis and some specify a ridiculously small number of words for the synopsis. Others aren't so specific. You just need to check what they want in their submission guidelines. Having read Donna's feedback, I shall have to find time to read your other two chapters. By the way, I have very rudimentary French and wasn't put off by your use of bits of French in chapter 1.

Hi Deborah, having said I'd have a look, I started reading this from where you'd attached it in your previous post. I've only read chapter 1 at the moment. I loved the images at the start - with Maggie struggling over cobbles with the suitcase and feeling very conspicuous. It made a great start and I could really identify with that feeling of the awkward tourist/new arrival.

I've attached a marked up version with a few comments in. I did feel that it slowed down towards the end of the chapter and there was a sense of repetition as we constantly heard how hot and bothered Maggie was.

I did feel there was a good change of mood after she saw her film script and heard the music. As I said before, I think it would be better to give J a proper name.

There was also a bit of 'telling' that crept in in places - giving background information that probably isn't necessary in this first chapter.

Hope that's helpful in kicking things off. All the best with tomorrow's editing.


Yes, I've had some really helpful feedback on my first few chapters (a couple of times) here on Townhouse. I did have a quick look at your first couple of chapters the other day and enjoyed what I read. I'd been meaning to send you a reply but hadn't got around to it. If you're posting them as a separate post, I will have another read and then add a comment to that.

Hi L. Thanks. I think I already knew those would be the answers I'd get. I also knew that I couldn't really compare myself to Archer or Tolkien, for the very reasons you gave. I guess I may need to end up facing reality by changing my ending or explore the self-publishing route (not that I have any illusions about that being an easy option!)

Hi Deborah. Thanks, that's really encouraging. I've been pitching to agents, off and on a few at a time for about a year, each time feeling that what I'm sending out was so much better than previous attempts! So hopefully I'm moving in the right direction. No agent yet has asked for my full manuscript.

Thanks Caron. That's really helpful again. I'd included the last sentence because Glyn was insistent in his comments that I ought to include the fact that it was book one in a trilogy. I said I was putting that in my cover lesson but he seemed to think it should be in the synopsis too, in case the synopsis got detached and forwarded without the cover letter.

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