If you have been under a rock, or missed my incessant tweets…I am now working with the lovely team at Gliterary Girl as a book reviewer and columnist and I am EXCITED! As a little intro to the kinds of work I will be doing with them, here is my first post for the site:
Kissing Frogs – Why getting published can feel a bit like waiting for Prince Charming
The title of this blog says it all really. You work for weeks, months, sometimes years for an idea to come along. You nurture and love it, pouring hours of what feels like your actual soul into it and when you type that final word of your novel, the feeling is well, confusing. I was elated when I finished Embers, but almost immediately panic-stricken. I knew there was work to be done, much editing and cutting, but I also knew that I couldn’t justify spending all that time writing it to cave to The Fear and see it languish in a drawer somewhere or worse, a hard-drive.
The Fear is a phenomenon which can relate to all areas of life but I think it was particularly prevalent for me at this point. The Fear, by nature, is a slithering snake of self-doubt that tries, repeatedly to convince you that what you have done is not good enough to even make the envelope, or the email attachment list; let alone the desk of an agent or publisher. Ask anyone that has ever sent anything anywhere to be appraised, checked, judged….everyone can tell you their own experiences of it.
The only way to win is to do it regardless. I can’t bear to hear of people creating something then hiding it away. Admittedly, publishing is terrifying. It is a veritable minefield of agents and publishers and vanity press and indie, self-publishing…the list goes on. When you come into it new it is hard to know where to start.
I aimed high – probably ridiculously high – but, I thought I would be more mad at myself for not trying. So I scoured the internet first but was overwhelmed at how naïve I was about the industry and its rules and processes. It was alarming and enough to make The Fear shout: “You may as well leave it. Looks a little complicated and scary. Why not just eat a chocolate bar instead?”
It was tempting, but no. I went back to basics and a trusty book. I found The Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook and started there. I sent some manuscripts to big agencies, some to small ones, but (and this bit is important) they were all ones that took a particular interest in my type of novel (YA fiction). I think the key here was not that I was interested in a scattergun approach; quite the opposite; I just knew that the most important thing for me was to find someone who would believe in my book and I didn’t care if that was a huge publishing house or not.
I had been sending excerpts and synopses and all sorts of variations of Embers to people for a year (though waiting times meant there weren’t actually many sent out) and had been ignored completely in some cases, rejected coldly in others. It was tough and even though I pretended I was prepared for that, I don’t think I was. This is where it becomes about kissing lots of frogs. Publishers are businesses, so you have to bear that in mind. You also have to bear in mind they get thousands of books sent to them each year (or each month in some cases). You have to kiss a lot of frogs to find the waiting publisher on a white horse that will cart you off in to the metaphorical novel sunset.
The author-publisher relationship is important. I really believe that it is vital. I don’t think it matters who it is, that company or person just needs to understand you and love your characters like you do. When that happens, you are on to a winner.
I signed a deal with Fisher King Publishing for The Foresight Series and I remain delighted. My overriding aim was to secure that understanding of my novel and I did. The day I signed the contract, I watched with joy as The Fear slithered off into the gutter and disappeared.
I guess for anyone writing and trying to get published I would advise to grow a thick skin. The rejections, the non-replies; they aren’t personal and one rejection or ten does not mean there isn’t someone out there that will want it…you just have to kiss a few more frogs.
Prince Charming is waiting……