There’s the writing of the book and then there’s the getting the book out into the world. And they’re two very different dragons to ride.
It’s been six months of honing my message, crafting my pitch, researching the market, finding competing titles and succinctly summarising every chapter. With each submission, I’m effectively putting my heart and soul into words and offering it to a perfect stranger, asking them to believe in me. It makes me find the part of me that doesn’t believe in myself.
I remember, before I started writing the book, finding out that with non-fictions you could submit a proposal without having written the book yet. It was tempting to dream about getting a book deal in order to write it. But then I thought about how I would feel if it didn’t get picked up. What if everybody rejected it? Would I still write it?
It wasn’t worth taking the risk so I decided to get on and write and THEN find a publisher. I’m glad I did. Looking for an agent has made me seriously doubt my story and question whether any mainstream publisher will ever want it. But through the process, I’ve come to believe in it 100%. And that’s what counts.
This is the letter I’ve just sent to THE memoir agent. If their response is another rejection, then I’ll probably self publish.
Dear Graham Maw Christie,
I am seeking representation for my novelised memoir My Beautiful Psychosis. You seem to be THE memoir people and I’m passionate about the power of story to transform society.
From a perspective never told before, that of the patient, My Beautiful Psychosis depicts a series of seven psychotic episodes. Disturbing and edgy, we enter the world of a mad woman, to offer a new way of looking at psychosis. It’s a similar subject to A Beautiful Mind but a narrative voice that does for psychosis what Curious Incident did for Asperger’s.
I’m an independent documentary filmmaker and have been interviewed on Russia Today for my film In Transition 2.0, which was shown at the Delai Film Festival in Moscow as well as numerous other festivals worldwide.
Extracts from my story have been published in the self-help book In Case of Spiritual Emergency by Catherine G. Lucas. I also featured in the live webinar for its launch, which you can see here. I was interviewed by a filmmaker researching a character experiencing psychosis. It was published on his blog, archived here. I’ve also had an article published in Grazia magazine and Grazia Australia, called I Married A Sex Addict.
Publishers will be interested to know that there is plenty of scope to keep the book selling into the future as I plan to tell the story in other media. A documentary will explore the subject of madness and the sense I’ve made of it. I’m keen to work with Curious Incident Olivier Award-winning playwright Simon Stephens and Olivier and Tony Award-winning director Marianne Elliott on a stage play. I personally know the Director of the National Theatre. I’m also devising a site specific piece of immersive theatre, set on a real closed down psychiatric ward, which will have the audience taking part as visitors. VIP ticket holders will have the privilege of being sectioned. And finally a screenplay will take it to the masses.
I’ve got my work cut out for me, I know, but I’m plugged into a global network of people who are also passionate about changing the system. We’ve all been through a similar powerful awakening and could help millions of others awaken too. I know this is not a mainstream kind of pitch and may well have to self publish but I’d rather have the support of an agent and publisher to help me with this mammoth task.
My life has brought me to this point. I’m a bright and fortunate survivor of a system that turns people into zombies. I’m part of a movement to transform the mental health services. With my expertise in using film to affect positive change, I’m on the advisory board of the Alliance For ReVisioning Mental Health, which is funded by the British Psychological Society. Using the power of story we’re galvanising a tribe of change agents to help build this revolution.
I attach all of the requested documents, which I hope you enjoy reading and I look forward to your response.