Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Getting Published - The Big 'J'

Well this is it. Now that I have my blog up and running and now that one or two people have actually dropped by, I thought it was time to talk about the The Big 'J'. (Or The Big Journey to anyone thinking what the hell...). The journey begins roughly from the day I was offered a publishing deal and follows me until the day I hold the finally published novel in my impatient little hands.

I start off as a singer-songwriter, mother, wife, insomniac, yoga enthusiast, runner, chocaholic and singing teacher (no particular order). Let's see what happens when I get there. Will I still like chocolate?

I thought it would be easiest to start with a recent article I wrote for The Brit Writers' Award Magazine. So here it is:

It's been said that there's a novel in everyone. There was certainly one in me and the idea for which had been floating around my mind for quite some time. After twenty, yes twenty, years I decided that this was it, I would have to write this novel because it would drive me crazy if I didn't. Three years ago I turned on the laptop and there was no stopping me. After two years, two working titles and several rendezvous with my laptop at 2am, I'd finished the first draft.

By the time I'd gotten to the third draft I was feeling rather pleased with my achievement and started fantasising about become a published writer. That's when I panicked. Someone else would have to read this. Someone would have to judge me. Could I cope with rejection? I enlisted my first reader, my husband, who was impressed. But husbands are world famous for lines such as, of course I didn't forget your birthday and no your bum doesn't look big in that dress. So I decided to seek further assurances. 

The next stages of my journey I would highly recommend. Firstly, get the opinions of a group of willing, or even half hearted, friends to read and comment on your work. After some very valuable feedback I realised I needed to take the drafting phase a stage further. I chopped and changed several scenes, said farewell to surplus characters and story lines and re-wrote some of the dialogue. It's hard for any writer to have to remove favourite scenes but sometimes it's a must and you have to be strong. I was close to tears when I'd seen how much I'd axed. All that hard work and effort, gone. But I was convinced I'd improved my manuscript. The next stage was seeking professional opinion. 

Literary Consultants will read and give you a full report on your novel, whether it be a certain number of pages or the full manuscript. Of course there's a price but they won't pull any punches. I chose just one from the list I'd drawn up and, on their advice, it was back to editing. 

A few more tweaks and I was finally satisfied that I'd done all I could do – I was ready to start approaching Agents and Publishers and sending out my manuscript. I did my research and made a shortlist. I decided to try four avenues, three agents and a publisher. An affordable amount in envelopes and stamps for a struggling singer-songwriter. Before picking up the phone to contact my shortlist, I decided to do one more thing. I sent the first three chapters to the Brit Writers' Award Agents and Publishers Referrals Services. 

After an appraisal by the APRS, who showed total faith in my novel, I was offered help with tightening up my submission package and they then referred my manuscript on. Following their advice and help I was looking at the possibility of signing to publishers Indigo Dreams. It was the most surreal week of my life. Floating down the road in a haze of disbelief and equal amounts of unsuppressed glee I found myself at the local post box with a signed contract in my hand and the wonderfully overwhelming feeling that in 2013 I would be a published author. Me. 

I've stopped rewarding myself with bars of celebratory dark chocolate, those pat yourself on the back glasses of alcoholic beverages and I'm knuckling down to more writing. I'm writing with more confidence than before. Going with the flow. Not beating myself up when the ideas don't come. I know they will. When they do I head for the laptop and just go for it.

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