I know this is a bit Déjà vu – celebrating Dottie turning one, but you know me, if there’s a chance to celebrate with pizza and fizz then I’m going to take it! (YOU READING THIS MR AIMEE? PIZZA AND FIZZ.)
Seriously though, this time last year I basically spent my day waiting for my life to change. And it did – although not in the way you (I) are hoping.
I’m not rich beyond my wildest dreams, I’m not flying off the shelves of book stores, and I’ve not been number 1 in the amazon charts (although I did reach number 6 in humour AND WAS ON THE SAME PAGE AS JONATHAN HARVEY – he’s my hero).
But what happened is I got a chance to take a long hard look at myself. I’ve spent the year laughing like the boys do at a bloody stampy video, and crying like Tragic Larry does every time he thinks he might lose at anything.
I’ve watched Mothers Ruined and Survival of the Christmas Spirit be published, I’ve held them in paperback…IN THE ACTUAL REAL LIFE LIBRARY, and I’ve been lucky enough to have real life book bloggers tell me they love my book. I also got to meet some of these bloggers – which I’m thrilled about.
I’ve dicked around with the next novel from The Survival Series. I’ve felt the pressure of ‘second album syndrome’ because this will only be my second traditional novel – Ginenest is of course, slightly unconventional. However, I’m near to completing a very messy (but very workable) first draft!
A hint…Dottie has grown up a lot over the last year, she’s got an exciting new job and so with Henry by her side she’s juggling the work/life balance, along with dealing with some somewhat difficult personalities that aren’t her kids… in fact they’re grown ups!
I’ll keep you posted.
But for now, pass the gin – and Happy Birthday Dottie!
(If you haven’t yet read any of The Survival Series – just click here and get ordering)
ARGHHHHHH! Happy Monday! So excited to have Sarah – aka The Unmumsy Mum – on the blog today. I’ve followed and nodded along to her blog for quite a while now, and as soon as I knew she was going to release a book, I couldn’t wait! This week Sarah talks about her journey.
You Are A Writer.
I’m one of those really annoying people who became a published author without having a motivational backstory filled with disappointment and setbacks. [Sorry about that]. I think that was the reason I initially found myself feeling a bit sheepish whenever I was in the presence of other authors. You know, properauthors. Folk deserving of book deals because they had been grafting at the business of book-writing for donkey’s years before they ‘made it’. Who had worked long hours in a loveless job to pay the bills, but never once lost sight of seeing their words immortalised in print on a bookshelf somewhere. Proper authors should surely be able to recall the number of book proposal rejections they have collectively amassed – making their first published masterpieces all the more worthwhile. They are justified in their exchange of knowing glances with other authors because they have shared a steely determination to realise their book dreams.
They have waited an eternity for this break.
There have been far too many rejected proposals.
This is all they have ever wanted to do…
As a ‘hobby blogger’ – whose professional writing experience amounted to the square root of jack shit (my last pre-blog piece of writing being a GCSE English Literature exam) – I felt it would be disrespectful to join in with the look-we’ve-finally-made-it glances.
I haven’t waited an eternity for this break.
There haven’t been far too many rejected proposals (there haven’t been any).
And although I’ve always liked writing, never in a month of Sundays was I going to seriously pursue it as a vocation. I have always been far too worried about those pesky bills, taking comfort in a steady pay slip, paid annual leave and a bi-annual Performance Development Appraisal where a 1* review is highly unlikely.
In fact – and this makes me slump down into my seat in the hope of becoming invisible to those proper authors – I didn’t put any proactive legwork into getting myself an agent or a publisher because they found me. [Sorry about that, too]. Somebody once teased me that I had been handed a new career on a plate (‘You lucky bugger!’), and I couldn’t help but agree with them. Getting approached by both an agent and a publisher the very same week (and subsequently quitting my day job to write a book) is the absolute dream – the writing equivalent of being scouted.
The problem with being scouted, as I soon began to realise, was that expectations seemed somehow higher from the outset. I felt a huge amount of pressure (from myself, it has to be said!) to make a positive impression because I hadn’t spent years working tirelessly to secure a book deal. I kind of felt like I’d cheated. I would have to impress the world/his wife/his dog with my book to justify the leg up I had been given…
Fast forward nine months to today, when that book is sat proudly in bookshops and on supermarket shelves (whaaat???!!), and I think I am finally getting used to saying, ‘I am an author.’ (I’ve been practicing in front of the mirror). I have concluded that any sheepishness felt was probably rooted in my own self-doubt about my abilities as a writer. As it turns out, that writing process has provided an unofficial license to share knowing nods. Nobody handed me 320 pages on a plate and perhaps it is the standout book-writing memories – like the night I sat typing until 1am before setting my alarm for 5am (to finish a crucial chapter before the kids woke up) – that have helped me to finally relax into feeling deserving of the author title. I now have an understanding of the blood, sweat, tears and yelling-at-husbands that goes into writing a book, and if I’m honest, this is something I had massively underestimated when I was dancing around my kitchen singing ‘I’ve got a book deal.’
Having never before been edited, I savoured the opportunity to have my words tweaked and sent back to me looking polished. I discovered that I had been incorrectly using ‘whilst’ instead of ‘while’ my entire life, which is an extremely basic error but one I told my editor I was not surprised at ‘given that I am not really even a writer!’
“What are you on about, ‘not a writer?’” She laughed out loud over the phone. “You write stuff and people read it. You are a writer.”
She was right. I didn’t start from the bottom and I didn’t stare rejection in the face but I did put hundreds of hours into an online blog and it just so happened that a random matrix of social media sharing landed something I’d written on the Facebook timeline of people willing and able to give me that leg up.
Regardless of the backstory, regardless of whether you unwaveringly tried for ten years to get published or had a lucky break as a blogger, I take my hat off to anybody who has ever written a book. I was silently toasting you all whilst drinking fizz on publication day. Sorry, while drinking fizz. Or is it whilst? No it’s definitely while. I think…where the hell is my editor?
To read more about The Unmumsy Mum check out her blog here. She’s also on Facebook, Twitter, and you can buy her book here.
Whoop! The AWARD WINNING Mandy Baggot is on the blog today talking about the path to publication, and judging by how many books she’s written, I think it’s safe to say she knows her stuff.
Path to publication!
You’ve written your novel. Your best friend has read it. You’ve read it so many times you’re sick of the sight of it. You hate the heroine. You wouldn’t fall in love with the hero if he paid you to and, if it’s a thriller, you’re seriously thinking about becoming a serial killer and making the first victim your manuscript. So, what happens next? Well, it’s totally up to you!
Today’s writing arena is jam-packed and stacked full of opportunities for authors. Here’s my top tips for the next step after you’ve got all the words on paper.
A great way of getting advice, observations and constructive criticism on your manuscript is to use friends, readers, fellow writers or a professional agency/organisation. These are the people who are going to read your story like it’s a book they’ve bought from Amazon and point out areas where it might need work or bits that could be improved on. They will spot flaws and holes in your plot, point out where your timeline goes a bit wonky and where Henry became Harry or when Auntie Jacky’s age changed from forty five to fifty ten chapters in. For romance writers, consider applying to join the very popular Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers scheme. More details can be found here.
An agent can open doors to larger publishing houses you wouldn’t ordinarily be able to submit to on your own. An agent will look at your manuscript and decide whether they feel this story and the genre will fit on their list and if they feel confident they will be able to sell the idea and/or you to a publishing house. These days publishers aren’t just looking at the story that arrives on their desk, they are looking at you! Agents and publishers like writers to have a strong social media presence and be committed to creating relationships with readers through these channels.
If you decide an agent is the best way forward for your writing career they will also provide you with invaluable advice on market trends, foreign rights, and editorial aspects of your work and be your biggest cheerleader whether you’re celebrating or commiserating.
You can submit your work all by yourself to a lot more publishers than ever before. This means, if you’re accepted, you won’t have to give away any of your royalties to anyone else. Most agents take a cut of 15-20%. However, this also means all the work will be in your hands – submissions, edits, timescales, and decisions – all coming at you direct from the publisher. My current publisher, Bookouture, publishes a wide range of genres and accepts un-agented submissions. Find out more here.
Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, Wattpad and Smashwords have made it super easy for authors to get their work into readers’ hands. Within hours of loading your manuscript onto your chosen site, your book can be available to read by anyone in the world! Sounds scary? It doesn’t have to be, but you do need to be prepared to be your own agent, publisher and marketing guru all rolled into one. I have successfully self-published six novels and for me it was all about getting my work out there and finding readers who liked it. I learnt so much doing it this way and I don’t regret taking this particular step as my first one on my publishing path.
But the main thing to remember is that what works for one writer might not work for another. Look at all the pros and cons, weight up your options and choose the route that suits you best. If you pick your own road then you’re never going to be blaming anyone else for what happens on the journey!
You can can find out more about Mandy on Twitter, Facebook, or at his website. Visit here (UK) or here (US) to check out her AMAZING collection of books! Finally if you still want more, make sure you follow her on Pinterest.