It has been enlightening to read the previous blogs on this site. Writers who have achieved success are living proof that you can get that deal you strive for. This post is written from a hopeful, yet slightly different perspective…
I’ve always thought I had a book locked somewhere deep inside, but producing said tome is proving an incredibly difficult and frustrating task. Fantasy is my preferred genre. So it was that a decade ago I put pen to paper and began to create the world of Peripherealm. Every evening following a day at work, I would write down my ideas and over time the tale evolved. I had no idea where or when the process would end but found immense pleasure in what I was doing. Self-publishing was yet to be developed so when the first book was finished, I printed it off and sat back satisfied that I had achieved what I set out to do. Tick that one off the bucket list along with running a marathon and jumping out of a plane.
A couple of years passed and a chance email led to me attending the Festival of Writing in York. Here I met book doctor Debi Alper and the next step along the road was taken. Thanks to Debi’s encouragement I chose to have the book edited, so the following year was spent shaping my crude first draft.
At the next festival I felt ready to pitch the manuscript to agents, and here I met David Headley. Dave offered to represent me and demonstrated such enthusiasm for his craft that I felt joining his agency was the correct choice.
This was it, the most difficult hurdle for any aspiring author passed, I’d bagged my agent and our combined talent, contacts and savvy would surely mean fame and fortune were just around the corner. I set up a website ‘Peripherealm.com’ with teasers to delight prospective fans, I even put examples of my illustrations on the site (another hobby of mine I’d been told had potential). A Facebook page ready for innumerable ‘likes’ was created and I began to tweet with the intention of more action than the Dawn Chorus. Initial euphoria began to wane as it dawned on me that there was still a very long way to go. There was no time scale to this process.
A number of edits and the 177,000 word original was trimmed to 72,000 words in length. Dave and his team obviously put a huge amount of time into helping me edit, but it was a huge leap of faith and I felt an uncomfortable feeling deep in my gut every time I cut a character I had created and had been a companion in my writing for perhaps years. Some were I felt, worthy original scenarios which were discarded ruthlessly, surely they deserved more? At least I would have a significant back catalogue of ideas!
Manuscript ready, now the publishers would enter into a bidding war to sign me up. Unfortunately that’s not how it works. The book still needed work. I’d begun the next story in the series and found myself editing once more. Crucially, I was still enjoying my writing but it was hard at times when the day job constantly got in the way.
New publishers were approached. No joy. This is when belief in your own work is tested to the extreme. In changing your writing to suit publisher’s demands the danger is you lose what made your writing yours and yours alone. This is a quandary I do not have an answer to. Perhaps I had walked on the wrong crack in the pavement? Perhaps it was simply not written in the stars that my manuscript would make it onto a dusty bookshelf.
I would regularly log into the DHH Agency website. Everything in the garden certainly seemed rosy there. A growing stable of writers…or is it gaggle, flock, unkindness? Not sure on that collective noun, but it was evident that something successful was building and I had to hang onto their coat tails. The flip side here was that I realised that the agents had their fingers in more pies than an ambidextrous Little Jack Horner. Patience my dear, patience, your time will come. I would feverishly check my inbox with ridiculous regularity in the hope that someone, somewhere had finally realised what a work of genius I had created. Mere mortals had obviously taken some time to see what had been staring them in the face all the time…MY BOOK WAS WORTHY OF A DEAL!
So it recently came to what felt like a final throw of the dice. A meeting in the famed Groucho Club with Dave and his editorial assistant Harry Illingworth. I’d arrived, members only. I was being welcomed into the writer’s inner circle.
Unfortunately I had not been summoned to be informed of a publisher offering a deal. My resolve was being tested to its most extreme limit. (Lunch on Dave was very nice though). Time to change tack? Dave, whose hard work, honesty and integrity have never waned hoped my style could be adapted for another genre. Thankfully he displays the patience of Job! I have to do likewise, if our mutual goal is ever to be achieved.
So it is that I am currently writing a new manuscript! A thriller based around an idea I’ve had on the backburner for some time. The world of Peripherealm waits in the wings and crucially I continue to enjoy every time I put pen to paper. If this is lost on you at any point on your writing journey then my advice is to put the pen down or turn off the laptop, you’re wasting your time. As the kids on ‘Why don’t you’ famously advised me many moons ago on a rainy school holiday morning in the Seventies, ‘why don’t you go out and do something less boring instead?’ Your writing won’t be worth a spit if you aren’t doing it for the right reason…because you want to!
In your pursuit of that elusive deal there will be many hurdles, but keep the faith. In my experience the wheels of publishing turn more slowly than taking a three legged tortoise for a walk…but they do say that the best things come to those who wait!
If like me you are seeking that first deal I wish you the very best of luck.
Keep the faith, it’s your greatest ally.
by Sean Walsh