Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Ready, Steady, Go...

My manuscript had been edited and, of course, I had also sent it to a professional proof reader - the lovely Viv Moriarty. You can find her contact information here:

I went through the manuscript one last time and it was ready to be sent out again into the big world of publishing.

I had prepared a synopsis - geez, that was another hard thing to do. To be honest, it was even harder than writing the novel. To condense everything that happens in the story into approximately two pages (some publishers wanted even less) was close to the ninth circle of Hell in Dante's ‘Inferno’. Really, I would rather write another novel (and I am) than write the synopsis, believe me.
Now that my manuscript was polished and my synopsis written, I was almost ready to try submitting to publishers again, but not quite. 

I realised that I needed to write a query letter. Now to 'sell' myself is something I REALLY hate to do. I honestly don't know how to do it. I could sell you almost anything else, but not my skills or knowledge. I just can't. And believe me, I’m really bad at job interviews...

But it needed to be done and I did it. Sort of. 

And I was ready. Sort of. I prepared a list of publishers open for submissions.  In a two month period I sent out five submissions (before editing and polishing my manuscript I’d also sent it to five, but different publishers). When it came to sending the last submission however, I made an almost unforgivable mistake.

I was copying and pasting the query letter into each email. When it came to that final email I wasn’t careful enough and I sent the email to the right publisher, but addressed it to the wrong person. As soon as I pushed the send button I realised my mistake. You know that feeling when cold sweat covers your body? Well, that was exactly how I felt - at 6:39a.m. 


What should I do?! My mind went blank but my fingers flew across the keyboard and I sent out another email (three minutes later - yes, that's how long it took me to react) sincerely apologising for my mistake.

The first email came back six hours later asking me if I was sure I'd sent the submission to the right person. I felt like an idiot. I was trying so hard and yet one mistake had buried all my possibilities and hopes. 

Or so I thought...

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Uncle Google and the Diamond in the Rough

For me, as for most people, 'Uncle Google' is a life saver…

And I was back at the computer again, searching for someone who would be willing to go through my Diamond in the Rough’. 

This time I was looking for freelance editors, and I found some through Google and also through Goodreads.

I also decided (can you believe it?) that I would listen to good advice from people who had been in this business much longer than me. 

The advice I gathered from a variety of writers’ groups included:
- take your time
- get sample edits
- choose the editor who, your gut feels, is the one you could work with.

And so I:
- took my time and contacted a range of editors
- asked for sample edits, and read these thoroughly
- faced another problem. There were two editors who I felt I could really work with, but I had to make a decision.

I won't lie, it was a hard decision, but in the end I chose my lovely editor Alison Williams, who did really wonderful work. 

You can find her web page here: https://alisonwilliamswriting.wordpress.com/
She edited, provided five pages of editorial feedback and, oh wow, quite some work to do afterwards.
Of course I didn’t agree with everything she suggested (sorry Alison) but most of her remarks were helpful and, after a second edit, I was finally ready to submit my manuscript to publishers.

I felt much more confident than before - until I realised that I’d made another grave mistake…

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Rule No. 1

So what is Rule Number 1? 
Always listen to... good advice! I didn't. And that didn't pay off. No wonder, right?

I read the ‘Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook’ and found some very good advice on how to start looking for an agent or publisher... and I didn't listen. I wanted a short cut. I wanted to take two or three steps at the same time while climbing the stairs. It just didn't pay off. Really. Believe me.

After so many nights searching the internet for a 'suitable' publisher, I finally realised that it would be much quicker to take a look at who had published the books on my bookshelf. Hmmm... that wasn’t a bad idea, until I realised that many of those books were self-published, and I found myself almost back at the beginning of the process. 

But I didn't give up. No. I had come so far already that something like that wasn’t going to stop me.  No way. So I went through my Kindle library instead and I found some useful information there, which of course needed to be checked online. But it paid off. I got some information to start my search with - but it only led to another mistake.

So what did I do that was so wrong? 
For heaven's sake... I'm so embarrassed...

I didn't send my manuscript to a professional editor first. Yeah, right. I sent my manuscript as a 'diamond in the rough' and... well, I was rejected. Several times.
Surprise, surprise...

Did I feel down? Of course. Who wouldn't?

I felt like I was back in high school. Although it was many years ago, I'll never forget getting my first written essay back and seeing that I’d been given a ‘D’. After straight A’s for all my essays in primary school, believe me, it was a shock. But that’s another story, for another blog post perhaps...

After a few days of sulking, but not telling anyone why, I realised I had to let go of one of my favourite hero's sayings... 

Here’s GĂ©rard Depardieu as Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand. (Apologies - I couldn't find it with English subtitles.) 

I’ve always loved those words; the way he describes his feelings about his art, his feelings about writing. 

Cyrano de Bergerac - No, thank you.
and then there’s this...

“But... To sing, to laugh, to dream, to walk in my own way and be alone, free, with an eye to see things as they are, a voice that means manhood—to cock my hat where I choose—

At a word, a Yes, a No, to fight—or write. To travel any road under the sun, under the stars, nor doubt if fame or fortune lie beyond the bourne—

Never to make a line I have not heard in my own heart; yet, with all modesty to say: "My soul, be satisfied with flowers, with fruit, with weeds even; but gather them in the one garden you may call your own.”
Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac

But, (sigh) it was time for me to let go. I had to face it - I needed some help.
And I began to breathe more easily.

Monday, 2 March 2015

So I wrote a novel... now what?

I've never really asked myself that question before...

And, of course, this isn't my first novel...

But this time it was different. Everything was different. For a start I had written the novel in English and English isn't my first language...
Like most authors, I had two choices:
- to find an agent or a publisher
- to self-publish and become an indie author.

Although the second idea was somewhat more probable, it wasn't really what I wanted. Why? 

Well, for a start, I knew I didn't have enough knowledge about self-publishing. I tried to learn, so I read everything that I found on the internet... and guess what? I was even more confused. So, at least for the time being, I gave up on that idea.

So the next thing I needed to do was to find out as much as possible about prospective publishers. Oh wow. I had published short stories and novels before without any problems - and I mean really no problems at all. My first publisher approached me and published everything I sent them. But with this novel - well, it was a tricky business. 

I had bought myself a writers' "bible" before I'd even finished the novel. That was my first expense on the way to getting published.  And the book was - the literary world knows it well - "The Writers' and Artists' Yearbook 2013". 

So I picked it up again and read the chapters related to publishing. Oh gosh. There are so many publishing houses and so many agents. And new questions arose - first and foremost, who to contact? Publisher or agent? 

Checking them all out on the internet was another huge task. For example, I didn't want to send my manuscript to someone who wasn't interested in the genre of my novel. So night after night I searched and searched and... gave up. It was just too much. I didn't want to spend my time like that. Surely there was an easier way?

I realised then that I was in a jungle. 

Would I be strong enough to survive?