Yeah, yeah. Here goes another author spouting on about their shiny publishing contract life.
Do you know me? Do you read my blog posts? If you do, you’ll know what you’re about to read is anything but about a charmed life.
Getting published is hard. We all know that. Sometimes we need to hear about how others found it to know it was and is worth it.
Beginning as a Writer
It often seems the majority of writers were scribbling sentences seconds after they came out of the womb. Not this writer.
I didn’t start writing until I was forty. There was the occasional speech for work, a friend’s wedding poem, and numerous shopping lists, but nothing to set the world of books on fire.
After being encouraged by my husband to just bloody well write or something a bit kinder than that, I did.
I wrote a crap first novel. Rite of passage passed.
Crap novel festered while I got severely depressed.
The two aren’t related. Probably. Rubbish genes, duff brain chemistry, and past life stuff makes me prone to depression. Thankfully I’ve been free of it for years.
But it was there back then and it affected my writing. I didn’t write.
I recovered. I wrote again.
Sounds simple. It wasn’t. Read the posts in the Mental Health Life category to truly understand.
I was just getting into the swing of it when my mum’s cancer came back.
This time it was terminal. Nothing puts your life on hold quite like watching someone else’s life ebbing away.
Frequent visits, heartache at a future without Mum, and hospice life meant no time or will to write.
When Mum died, I thought I’d never write again. The joys of the world were over.
Mum wouldn’t have it. She was always a fighter. Her spirit was with me (not in a ghostly way) and I knew I had to write. I had to write Hidden.
Hidden wasn’t originally called that. I am the world’s worst at coming up with book titles.
It was originally called Back, because the novel went back in time. I’m cringing as I type this. Genius? I think not.
Thank goodness for publishers who know what they’re doing.
I laboured over Hidden. I loved and hated it at different moments.
I drafted that novel so many times I could almost have repeated the whole thing without looking at the screen.
I now know I was putting off letting other people read it. I was petrified of handing over my precious baby of a book to other people.
One day I decided to wrench that book from my scaredy-cat hands and let beta readers have at it.
I chose wisely. They were fabulous. They critiqued and praised. Their advice helped Hidden become a much better novel.
Beta readers are amazing. Don’t write a book without them. They’ll set you on the road to publication.
Querying and Submitting
I got to the point when I was submitting to agents and publishers where I wanted to kill the next person who told me how many times J.K. Rowling and Stephen King were rejected.
Don’t do it to other writers. It’s not helpful.
Most of us have far too much imposter syndrome going on to even contemplate comparing ourselves to famous authors. Most of us have been rejected many more times than Rowling and King.
I can’t remember the exact numbers now but I submitted to over sixty agents and publishers. Some of you may be thinking that means her novel is shite. Ask other authors how many rejections they got. It’s not always the case. The market out there is tough.
I got two requests for a full manuscript. One never got back to me. The other loved my book but didn’t know who to market it to.
The frustration with my rejections were, if the agent replied, I was often told my book didn’t fit a specific niche or trend. Make of that what you will.
Positive rejections are a thing when submitting. I’m not blowing my own trumpet as the fact is my book was rejected but I got so many replies telling me how strong my writing is, it’s a great plot, the characters are brilliant BUT… Oh, that BUT.
It got to a point where I scanned the replies for BUT and just knew.
I was flattered and encouraged BUT it didn’t get me any further along.
Querying and submitting isn’t for the faint-hearted. If you’re not a patient person it is agony.
Waiting at least eight weeks for replies is excrutiating. When the reply is a rejection it makes it even harder. You feel like you wasted time.
Submitting takes ages. You have to get a package together, keeping exactly to what the agent or publisher needs. Rightfully so but it’s hard work doing something different for every agent.
In the beginning I got the hump about it. Then my husband said if I want my book traditionally published and the agent who could help me with that wants me to write in purple font, 22 point Comic Sans, and write a twenty page biography, I have to do it. So I did. Well, not that exactly.
Still, the rejections rolled in.
I checked and re-checked my query letter, synopsis, opening chapters, and whole manuscript.
I read books on how to make them better. I didn’t just lie back and wait.
Still, the rejections, rolled in.
I was ready to self-publish. By the way, that is NEVER a default option. It is NOT a lesser option.
Self-publishing is bloody hard. Authors who self-publish are amazing, doing everything themselves.
Self-publishing is definitely not the easy way out.
I wanted my novel out there. I submitted to agents and publishers because that was my preferred path.
I always knew self-publishing would be a good option too.
I was ready to give up on submitting.
A Publishing Contract
I’d heard of Bloodhound Books and read some of their authors’ books. I’m a huge fan of thrillers, crime, and mysteries.
On a day when I had decided to try one last time, no word of a lie, I submitted my novel and synopsis to Bloodhound Books.
Within a week they asked for the full manuscript. Within days they offered me a publishing contract. After all those months of submitting, it happened as quickly as that.
I had just returned from a run, feeling pleased with a new personal best. I thought that was the highlight of my day until I read the email offering me the contract.
I cried. I phoned my husband who was on his way to work. He came back because he was so excited. I cried some more. I phoned my best friend and we both cried.
It had begun.
Here we are. My first novel – but not technically the first as that was crap, remember? – is due to be published on 27th August.
Since I got the contract in May, everything has happened so fast! Editing, book covers, sorting out promo, and letting the world know.
Having a team behind me is brilliant. I am so lucky to be with Bloodhound Books. Was it luck? I don’t know. Was it a case of perseverance pays off? I don’t know that either.
I believe my work is good enough to be published. I wouldn’t have bothered pursuing this path otherwise. How it all happened is beyond me but I’m so grateful for it.
I don’t have much advice. I’ve never claimed to be an expert in the writing field.
All I can say is if you really want it, go for it. You may roll your eyes as yet another writer tells you to develop a thick skin and be patient but unfortunately that’s what you need to do.
Learn from the rejections. Learn from others.
Listen to what’s happening out there. Keep a watchful eye. I found out my publisher was taking submissions from a Facebook friend’s shared post. Right place, right time.
Above all, keep believing in yourself and your book. Find the best path for it and do your best by this thing you worked so hard on.
Don’t let go of the dream if it really could be a reality.
Over to You
- Share your publishing stories, either as a traditionally published or self-published author. We can all learn from and celebrate with each other?
- Are you seeking publication right now? Please share your stories too.