Discover more from Rosy’s Ramblings
My Journey to Becoming a Published Author
And the work has only just begun...
Hello and welcome to Rosy’s Ramblings.
For those of you who are regulars here, you will know that I had some very exciting news recently. The novel that I wrote (which I forced myself) to write here on Substack, The Mysterious Disappearance of Marsha Boden, is going to be published by a publishing house via the traditional route (rather than self-publishing or Indie publishing), and I am over the moon.
It all began when I desperately wanted to finish a novel. I have started several over the years but soon became so confused with characters, setting, plot, pace, etc. that I gave up. Then, very scarily, I decided to write a novel in installments, two chapters a week, posting on Wednesdays and Saturdays here on Rosy’s Ramblings. It worked because there was no way that I was going to let my subscribers down (both free and paid.)
I started with the germ of an idea. A woman from a small village disappears. That was it. I sat at my laptop and unwittingly discovered (thankfully) that I am an intuitive pantser type of writer. (Stephen King uses this method) whereas other authors like J K Rowling (known as a plotter), plots and plans every step of the way. You can read all about how I discovered what type of writer I am here. You can tell by the GIF that pops up at the top of the link just how excited I was, (still am!)
Writing the novel is the fun part, the best bit, the most enjoyable pastime in the world - for me, anyway. I can sit for hours at my desk and let my imagination run wild while my fingers skip across the keys and magically, a story unfolds on the screen. Of course, it’s not that easy but that is what I do in the most simplistic of terms.
After the words are on the screen, the editing, polishing, shaping and creating the story, rather like an artist sculpting a piece of art from clay, begins. You start with the basic shape and then keep working until you have honed your work to as near to perfection as you are comfortable with. Just like a painter who constantly tweaks and shades and colours their artwork. Is it ever finished? Do we ever reach the stage when we are one hundred per cent happy with our work? Probably not, but in trying to reach perfectionism we must allow for flaws because we, as humans are flawed, just as the characters in our novels are. And that’s what makes them so authentic.
Then the next phase begins. Pitching your novel to a publisher or agent. Which? I have spoken to lots of people recently, including my best-selling author friend and members of the writing group that I belong to and each writer has a different perspective depending on what their goals, ambitions, or achievements are. For newbies like me just starting out on their novelist/author career, the consensus was to stick with the publisher who has taken the leap of faith and believed in you as a writer. From my understanding, agents want to get the best deal for you (obviously, because they take a percentage of your earnings in book sales, etc.) and therefore may take you away from the publisher who ‘discovered’ you.
I touched on pitching in the article above and how important it is to do your research. Study the various publishing houses you are approaching, read the bios of the editors you are pitching to, and make sure they are accepting submissions in the genre that you are submitting. Also, read what they ask for. If it’s the first three chapters, don’t send them the whole manuscript. If they want to read more they will request a ‘full’ and that’s what happened to me.
After the full has been requested, cross your fingers very tightly. Fortunately for me, the publisher came back and said they wanted to publish my novel. I didn’t open the e-mail for the longest time as I assumed it was a rejection. You know the type of thing, ‘We really enjoyed your manuscript but it isn’t quite right for us…’ When I finally plucked up the courage to read it, I was astounded. They not only wanted to publish my novel but said that it would make a fantastic addition to their bookshelves! They would get a contract out to me which I was advised to read through carefully. I was recommended by my writing friends to join the Society of Authors because they vet contracts for free and that’s what I did. So, when the contracts eventually arrived I was able to get them straight off to the SoA.
The contracts - I also pitched two children’s books in the meantime to the same publisher which were also accepted for publication (jump up and down for joy yet again!) - arrived and I read through them and sent them to the SoA with some questions of my own. My goodness, when they were returned, there were reams of explanations and queries which, again, I read through carefully and crafted my response to the publisher. I chatted with my writing group friends over a glass of wine (a pre-arranged social not a gathering of the clan) before I sent it off and the ones who are published (one by Hodder & Stoughton, no less) said that you must question things you (a) don’t understand or (b) don’t agree with. Don’t be afraid to stand up and be counted at this early stage but obviously try and get your point(s) across in a professional and friendly manner which is what I did. Lo and behold I got a reply immediately saying that the contracts would be returned to the legal department and I will hear back in a week or so.
I know that once the contracts are signed, developmental edits will take place, after which time I will have thirty days to do the structural edits and deadlines will have to be met. Then there is the launch of the book (another exciting time!) and a PR tour to promote it and then…then what? Ah, book number two, then number three and so it goes on. Like a conveyor belt. But guess what? That was my ambition, my dream and even though it entails a lot of hard work and graft, long hours of working into the night and early in the morning before I begin my regular job, it will all be worth it. To see my name in print on a book in a bookstore is what I have dreamed of and I cannot wait for that day to come.
Because writing is such a solitary pastime, to have the support of a publishing team - an editor, the marketing team and all the other people who work so hard to get our books out there - is what I have always wanted. I have self-published two books, both collections of short stories and poetry and marketing is a nightmare. I spend so much time trying to steer people towards them but it is not easy. Hopefully, with the publishing team behind me, my novel will be launched into the stratosphere - I know, wishful thinking but hey, if you don’t dream big, what’s the point in having dreams at all?
My best-selling author friend is thrilled for me and told me to pop the champagne corks once the contracts are signed and that, my friends, is exactly what I intend to do. Naturally, I will make an announcement across all my social media platforms so forgive me in advance if I repeat myself. But I will be shouting it from the rooftops. Very loudly!
Thanks for reading and please share this post if you think somebody else would find it useful or helpful. Don’t forget to click the heart and turn it red to make my day!
Rosy’s Ramblings is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, please consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.