Here it is – the first sneak preview of the third Eliza Kane story – Trouble on the Tide. The first draft is finished and it has been an absolute joy to write. I set myself a deadline to finish this draft before going on holiday next week, so I know there is still a lot of work to do, especially in the latter half of the story. I’m itching to start editing. There are tweaks to be made, characters and scenes to plump up, a new twist is already floating about in my head, but I need to stop now, sit on it, and attack the manuscript with “new eyes” when I return to my desk in December. I don’t think I have ever enjoyed writing a novel so much – probably because I know Eliza and all her foibles very well by now, plus part of the book is set in 1981 – my teenage years – so to re-visit that period in time has been great fun!
I will spend the winter editing and polishing off, and plan to launch the book in early summer 2023. More good news is that I hope to be able to have a physical book launch as well. A new independent book shop has opened in Lymington in the New Forest, and I have been able to persuade the lovely owners, Robyn and Dan, to stock the Eliza Kane Investigates series in their “local author” section. Robyn has done a grand job persuading her customers they will enjoy meeting Eliza, and they are now on their third stock-run of books (granted they don’t hold a huge stock but it’s wonderful to be told they’ve sold out!)
I know I’ve been all too quiet on social media while I’ve been working to get Trouble On The Tide finished, and as any author knows, if you disappear off air for a while people very quickly forget about you and your books. Self-publishing is all about being visible and vocal, but I have accepted that for my own personal well-being I need to concentrate on the things that make me happy – which is writing!
I did pop my head up to do an author talk at a local arts centre in my old home village of Bursledon on the eastern side of Southampton earlier this week. As I’ve said before, “performing” in front of an audience is something I would never have seen myself doing a few years’ back, and I’d like to thank the Greyladys Art Foundation for inviting me along, and those brave souls who ventured out on what was a horrible Tuesday evening to listen to me wittering on about my path to publication. I always refer to my path as a rocky road because just like the chocolate treat of the same name it’s full of soft gooey bits, delicious bits, colourful bits, and some very hard, break your teeth on bits. Right now, with Amazon sales and page reads on Kindle Unlimited of A Crisis at Clifftops and The Puzzle of Pine Bay trickling in slowly but surely, I’m at soft-gooey stage, which is a very satisfying place to end the year!
Don’t forget books make wonderful Christmas presents – personalised signed copies of all four of my paperbacks are available directly from me and I’m happy to post anywhere in the UK. Sadly I’m down to my last few copies of Your Secret’s Safe With Me and The Theatre of Dreams….and when they’re gone, they’re gone. The books will remain on Amazon in ebook format only, and signed paperbacks will become very rare copies. Who knows, one day they could be worth a fortune! I dream on…
Writing is hard, don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t, and don’t listen to people who say anyone can do it, because they can’t. It requires patience, persistence, and quite often sheer bloody mindedness to get a novel from conception into print these days – and not everyone has the stamina to see it through.
Regular followers of this blog will know that over the summer I ran a series of guest posts where authors shared the inspiration, the back-story, to their latest novel. This week I’d like to introduce readers to Dave, whose book launch I attended last weekend.
I first met Dave several years ago when I volunteered at my local community library. Dave came along to a meeting of the library’s creative writing group. I can’t recall the exact date, but I think it was shortly after I’d had an offer of publication for my first book, The Theatre of Dreams. Dave was very keen to pick my brains about the publishing process, because he too was in the middle of writing a book. In fact, he’d been in the middle of writing a book for several years.
I knew that feeling and immediately recognised Dave as a kindred spirit.
Dave’s would-be novel was set in World War II, and I’ll be the first to admit the mere mention of a military novel and my eyes tend to glaze over and my brain switches off. But this didn’t happen in Dave’s case, because his story was so uniquely personal to him, it was impossible to ignore his passion, his commitment, to consign his story to paper, or in his case, to his laptop, because Dave is quadriplegic, and the only tool he has to write his novel is his voice.
Way back in 1973 Dave had travelled to Norway as part of an RAF salvage team charged with the task of raising a submerged Halifax Bomber, shot down in 1942. When the mission was complete and the plane had been transported to the RAF museum at Hendon to be restored, Dave met with members of the original crew. The airmen’s stories of bailing out over occupied territory, the treacherous journey they made back to the UK with the aid of the Norwegian resistance, their tales of personal loves and losses, left a lasting impression.
Like most writers, Dave has always been an avid reader. He worked as an air traffic controller before retiring in 2004, following a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. It was then that he started to make notes about his own life experiences and began the bare bones of the novel that would eventually become The Flags of Dawn.
A lot of authors dictate their novels. That’s not unique, but they can also type, use a mouse, print out pages, edit with post-it notes and a big red pen. That’s not an option for Dave. If Dave’s in the middle of dictating and his wife Jane asks if he’d like a drink of coffee, his refreshment order turns up in the manuscript. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to appreciate the obstacles he’s had to overcome on his writing journey. Dave refers to his novel as the tale of ordinary people doing extra-ordinary things, but he’s extremely modest about his own achievements.
Dave and I write in totally different genres and in totally different styles, he’s a military historian who has been meticulous with his research, I’m a happy-go-lucky lightweight, but I do know what it’s like to have a story in your head that won’t go away. This was the book he had to write. Dave was determined the air crew, and their families, should not be forgotten. I wish him and his book all the success in the world.
As the summer draws to a close, we’re paying our last visit behind the scenes. I hope readers have enjoyed these insights into how a writer’s mind works. For the season finale, I’m delighted to welcome Ruby Basu with the backstory to her latest novel, The Love Arrangement.
Thank you for having me on your blog and giving me the opportunity to tell you about the inspiration for my latest book, The Love Arrangement.
Like many authors, I can get ideas for books from anywhere. Something I’ve read, something I’ve heard or just an image that pops into my head – all sparking a ‘what if’ question which then leads to characters, plots and settings. But the process for The Love Arrangement was completely different. This story began with a trope.
I love reading or watching stories where the couple pretends to be in a relationship. The fake dating trope is often coupled with either friends-to-lovers or enemies-to-lovers and it can bring in so many other tropes like the forced proximity or only one bed. There’s so much to love about it. I really wanted to write a book based on a fake relationship.
But of course, it’s not enough to have the trope. You need the plot, the conflicts and the character growth as well.
All my books feature at least one British Indian protagonist, so my mind immediately went to Indian weddings. As someone who had four wedding receptions (one in England and three in India), I wanted to reflect the vibrant, colourful, multi-day events in my book. That inevitably turned my thoughts to settings because if you’re going to feature a wedding why not have a destination wedding?
As I thought about what other events my fake couple could attend as part of their arrangement, I wanted to include some British activities and what is more quintessentially British than a garden party?
Once I had these events ready, Annika and Rav’s backstory, conflicts and character arcs flowed organically and the story came alive.
I’m not sure I would deliberately work from a trope to create a book again, but the development of The Love Arrangement proves that stories really can come from anywhere.
Independent and free-spirted Annika has no plans to settle down anytime soon… if only her parents felt the same way. But when her father unexpectedly falls ill, she’ll do anything to make things better. Even if it means suddenly blurting out she has a boyfriend.
The only issue is, he doesn’t exist.
Then, by chance, she bumps into handsome entrepreneur Rav, and she can’t believe her luck. He’s single, sworn off relationships and looking for a date to attend work events with. He’s the perfect solution to her troubles. Or is he?
Because there’s just one slight catch – he also happens to be her childhood nemesis.
It was only ever supposed to be a simple, temporary arrangement. Nothing more. Certainly love was never part of the terms and conditions. But Annika’s about to discover that some deals are made to be broken…
Ruby lives in the beautiful Chilterns with her husband, two children, and the cutest dog in the world. She worked for many years as a lawyer and policy lead in the Civil Service.
As the second of four children, Ruby connected strongly with Little Women’s Jo March and was scribbling down stories from a young age. A huge fan of romantic movies, Star Wars, and Marvel, she loves creating new characters and worlds while waiting for her superpowers to develop.
She is the author of The Twelve Wishes of Christmas and Baby Surprise for the Millionaire. Her latest book, The Love Arrangement, was published in eBook on 17 August and will be out in paperback and audiobook on 13 October.
Can you remember what you got up to in lockdown? For some people, such as this week’s guest, Alexandra Wholey, those weeks at home provided the opportunity to explore their creativity. I’m delighted to welcome Alexandra to share the backstory to her debut novel, A Year at Honeybee Cottage.
A Year at Honeybee Cottage is my lockdown novel, written in the throes of all the chaos in the world. At the time I began watching the latest series of This Farming Life, and Channel 5’s All Creatures Great and Small, and a seed of an idea was born. I wanted to write a heart-warming, gentle romance which focused on life in a tight knit community, dealing with family and friendship through the good times and the not, and A Year of Honeybee Cottage developed from there. The village of Mossbrae is based on Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, and is one of my favourite places for its breathtaking views and scenery.
Love Can Blossom when you least expect it… Jilted on her wedding day, a surprise inheritance of Honeybee Cottage, her late grandmother Marianne’s home in the Inner Hebrides, gives Eilidh the chance of a fresh start she so badly needs. Welcomed back with open arms into the tight knit community of Mossbrae, Eilidh reconnects with old friends, adjusts to village life again, and slowly learns to come to terms with her heartbreak through her reignited passion for her job as a beekeeper, all the while vowing that is is done with love. That is, until her meddling matchmaking friends and the rest of the village get involved…with hilariously romantic consequences! Will Eilidh get the happily ever after she deserves or will she receive a sting in the tale?
Hi, I’m Alexandra, a Yorkshire-born lass, former library assistant turned romance writer, who now lives in the Midlands with my husband and two kids. An avid animal lover who loved reading and writing from toddlerhood, whose present of choice was either a notebook and pen, or a book, and who grew up in the countryside reared on a diet of James Herriot and Catherine Cookson, becoming an author seemed a fated career choice. When I’m not writing and spending time with my family out at National Trust places on a weekend, I love binge watching TV box sets. Current favourites are Outlander, Peaky Blinders, and Bridgerton.
Many thanks to Alexandra for taking part. That lovely cover oozes calm and well-being. I wish Alexandra every success in her new career as a novelist.
This week we’re taking a trip to Italy with my guest Victoria Springfield to learn about the family connection, real life and fictional, which provided the backstory to her latest novel, The Italian Fiancé.
The idea for TheItalian Fiancé developed from one of the three interlocking love stories in my debut novel, The Italian Holiday. When elderly widow Miriam falls for restaurant owner Tommaso on a trip to the Amalfi coast readers are hoping for a Happy Ever After but it dawned on me that in real life Miriam’s family might not be so keen on her late-life romance. I contemplated a follow-on novel with two of Miriam’s shocked relatives turning up on the island of Ischia (where Tommaso plans to retire) and becoming embroiled in their own romantic entanglements. But I couldn’t imagine kindly Tommaso hiding any secrets from the past and the pandemic ruled out a return trip to Ischia which I felt was necessary to do justice to the story.
I wondered if I could use the same idea with different characters in a different setting. My parents’ old holiday diaries had helped me create the fictional village in A Farmhouse in Tuscany andamongst their pages were reminders of our many visits to the vibrant Tuscan city of Lucca, birthplace of Puccini. Flicking though my old maps and guidebooks I was confident I could bring Lucca to life despite the travel restrictions. Almost immediately, Aunt Jane and her flamboyant fiancé, artist Luciano materialised. He ‘was different from any man – any person – she had ever met. And she was different too…she wouldn’t – couldn’t – go back to being the person she had been before she and Luciano met.’
A photo of my brother riding a tandem around the old walls sparked the idea for sensible niece Cassie’s jaunt with handsome jeweller, Alonzo. The Puccini connection inspired the character of violinist, Matteo who captures her sister Lisa’s heart. Lisa falls in love with Lucca as well and I hope my readers will too.
When sisters Cassie and Lisa receive a wedding invitation, the last person they expect to be getting married is Jane, their seventy-year-old aunt! Convinced that she’s making a big mistake, the two put their differences aside to travel to the vibrant Tuscan city of Lucca. But there’s something magical about Italy… and this trip may just change their relationship – and their lives – forever.
Jane knows it’s not just a holiday fling. After her husband of four decades passed away, she never thought she’d find love again. But Luciano, with his big heart and artistic flamboyance, fills her life with colour. Can she show her nieces it’s never too late for a second chance?
Victoria Springfield writes contemporary feel-good women’s fiction immersed in the sights, sounds and flavours of Italy. Her feel-good stories follow unforgettable characters of all ages as they find adventure, friendship, and romance – with a few twists and turns along the way.
Victoria inherited a love of Italy from her father. After many years in London, she now lives in Kent with her husband in a house by the river. She likes to write in the garden with a neighbour’s cat by her feet or whilst drinking cappuccino in her favourite café. Then she types up her scribblings in silence whilst her mind drifts away to Italy.
Victoria’s books: The Italian Holiday, A Farmhouse in Tuscany and The Italian Fiancé are all published by Orion Dash.
The Italian Fiancé will be published 8th September 2022 in eBook and paperback and on 23rd November 2022 as an audio book.
This week I’m delighted to welcome Fiona Woodifield to my blog. Fiona’s latest novel is the second in a series set around a dating agency inspired by a famous author. Intrigued? Read on…
I have always been a compulsive writer, ever since as a child I realised that someone had to write all those glorious books I loved escaping into. On holidays, I would write in notebooks and diaries, my first story aged ten was very short, written in a Beatrix Potter notebook of course and was entitled Cormorant Island. After this I spent too many years writing essays and studying to write for pleasure. But once again in my twenties, I was back to penning children’s stories in a notebook. When I had my own children I started coming up with more ideas for books, some for adult stories and I wrote it all down in different random notebooks and left them round the house.
The inspiration for The Jane Austen Dating Agency series came to me quite suddenly one Sunday morning when I was resting in bed as you do, and I suddenly thought I wonder what would happen if Jane Austen characters from different novels were able to meet each other. It was a small leap from this initial pondering, to the idea that they could potentially date; just imagine Lady Catherine de Bourgh from Pride and Prejudice dating Sir Walter Elliot from Persuasion! This comic match made me chuckle and I suddenly had an idea for a Jane Austen themed dating agency.
This story was the one I simply had to write. I jumped out of bed at stupid o’clock, much to my husband’s consternation and started jotting down my ideas. So my debut novel was born.
A Wedding at the Jane Austen Dating Agency is the sequel to my debut novel, The Jane Austen Dating Agency, but can easily be read as a stand alone. The sequel charts Sophie’s continued adventures with The Jane Austen Dating Agency and her mishaps whilst trying to follow her romantic dreams and find herself a real Regency hero.
Sophie Johnson appears to be living her best life. She has landed her dream job as Managing Director of The Jane Austen Dating Agency and is dating the world’s most desirable man, Darcy Drummond.
But all is not as it seems. The relationship with Darcy is failing to live up to expectations and his awful mother is determined to cause trouble. To add to Sophie’s problems, the agency is struggling to attract enough eligible men, she has a Regency wedding to plan and then there’s the amusing and disturbingly cute Henry Baxter who is making it hard for her to concentrate.
The problem is Sophie wants it all, but in trying to manage everything, she’s in danger of losing what matters most.
Can she keep the dating agency afloat and find her own happy ever after? Or is business and romance an impossible combination?
Fiona has always been a compulsive writer, scribbling things down in brightly decorated notebooks and on random bits of paper, which she likes to leave all around the house. More years ago than she cares to remember, she gained a BA in Combined Arts at Durham University, then took an MA in English at the University of Oxford Brookes. Since then she has worked in various roles, including a stint at Vogue as well as bringing up her challenging, but lovely daughters. In her spare time, she enjoys dancing as though no one’s watching (especially zumba), walking her dogs/writing companions and visiting stately homes, pretending she lives there of course.
Fiona has written for various magazines. Her first novel, The Jane Austen Dating Agency was published in February 2020. The Jane Austen Dating Agency was shortlisted for The Joan Hessayon Award by the Romantic Novelists Association. Fiona’s Lockdown love story, Love in Lockdown was published by Avon later that year. Her latest novel, A Wedding at the Jane Austen Dating Agency was released last August.
This week I’m turning the spotlight on author Val Penny. I’m delighted to welcome Val onto my blog to share her exciting news about her latest book release.
Thank you so much for inviting me onto your blog today, Rosie. I am delighted to have a chance to tell you and your readers about Hunter’s Chase, the first novel in my series of The DI Hunter Wilson Thrillers.
I have been writing and telling stories all my life. When I was a child, I was inspired to make up stories for my little sister after our Mum put the light out and told us to go to sleep. Later, I wrote documents, contracts, and courses as part of my job, but my time was well accounted for, so I did not create any fiction.
However, I took early retirement when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and there were times when I suffered severe side effects from my treatment. I could not go out, spend time with friends or indulge in many of my favourite hobbies, but watching daytime television got very old very fast, so I turned to reading. It was the only thing I had the energy to do and could do safely.
I read voraciously, as I always have. I particularly enjoy reading crime fiction and thrillers. I indulged this interest with many novels including those by Peter Robinson, Ian Rankin, Linwood Barclay and Kathy Reichs.
After a while, I began to feel a little better and decided to start reviewing the books I read in a blog www.bookreviewstoday.info I enjoyed doing that. Then, as I began to feel better still, I got restless, but was not still well enough to do very much and I complained to my long-suffering husband about getting bored. It was then he challenged me: ‘If you know so much about what makes a good book, why don’t you write one?’ I did laugh. However, with the challenge set, the inspiration given, and I have been writing police procedural crime thrillers set in Scotland ever since.
In fact, I have just moved publishers to the stable of Spellbound Books. They will publish the first book in the series The DI Hunter Wilson Thrillers on 20. August.2022. The main character is Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson in Hunter’s Chase. My new series, The Jane Renwick Thrillers and four new books in a multibook deal will published by SpellBound Books in the months ahead. I am very excited to have made the move.
Although Hunter’s Chase, is the first book in a series, it can be read completely independently as a standalone.
I particularly enjoyed writing Hunter’s Chase it marked the end of a period of particularly poor health and so hope that readers will enjoy it too. The next novel in this series, Hunter’s Revenge, will be published by SpellBound Books in November. I’ll let you know more about that in due course!
It is with great delight that Val Penny has accepted a ten-book deal with Spellbound Books.
Val Penny has an Llb degree from the University of Edinburgh and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer but has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store.
Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories, nonfiction, and novels.
Val is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and their cat.
Thanks to Val for sharing her story with us. I’m so glad she took up her husband’s challenge. Val is a prolific writer who is wonderfully supportive of her fellow authors. I wish her new venture with Spellbound every success!
Today, I’m delighted to welcome Lynne Shelby back to my blog to talk about the spark of inspiration which ignited her latest novel, Rome For the Summer.
Sometimes the idea for a book can come to you when you least expect it.
The first faint spark of an idea for the story that was to become my new novel, Rome For The Summer, came to me when me and my husband were heading back to our hotel in Rome after a day’s sight-seeing. As we walked past the Spanish Steps, I overheard a conversation between two girls – one American, one Italian – the American telling the Italian girl that the ‘the job will only be for six months.’ I still have the notes I wrote that day as soon as we reached our hotel: ‘American in Rome. Why? Tourist? What is the job? Is she working in Rome for six months? Or going back to the States to work for six months? Does she have an Italian boyfriend who she’s leaving? Or is there an American boyfriend pining for her return?’
I didn’t come up with the answers to those questions immediately – and in any case, I was writing another novel at the time – but some months later, back in England, I happened to fall into conversation with a woman sitting at the next table in a restaurant who turned out to be a professor of literature from an American university with an extremely interesting reason for visiting Europe. This gave me the answers to what the American girl could be doing in Rome, and sparked off my ideas for both the plot of Rome For The Summer, which is set in 2016, and the sub-plot, which is set two hundred years earlier. The American girl became my English heroine, Kate, and the Italian girl became her English colleague, but the inspiration for the book was a conversation heard quite by chance several years earlier.
Kate Harper has always loved the painting that has hung in her parents dining room for years, never suspecting that it is worth a fortune. When her art dealer boyfriend cheats her family out of the proceeds of the painting’s sale, she is left devastated and alone.
Kate discovers that two hundred years ago, the girl in the painting, Charlotte Browne, ran off to Rome with the artist who painted her portrait, but her eventual fate is unknown.
Hoping to uncover the mystery of what happened to Charlotte, Kate seizes the chance of a summer job in Rome, where she strikes up a friendship with Jamie Taylor, an English artist. As they explore the city and start to piece together the surprising secrets of Charlotte’s life, Kate finds herself wondering if a summer in Rome can mend a broken heart…
Lynne Shelby writes contemporary women’s fiction/romance. Her debut novel, French Kissing, now re-published in e-book as Meet Me In Paris, won the Accent Press and Woman magazine Writing Competition. Her fifth novel, Love On Location, was shortlisted for a Romantic Novelists Association Award. She has done a variety of jobs from stable girl to child actor’s chaperone to legal administrator, but now writes full time. When not writing or reading, Lynne can usually be found at the theatre or exploring a foreign city, writer’s notebook, camera and sketchbook in hand. She lives in London with her husband, and has three adult children who live nearby.
This week I’m delighted to welcome Rebecca Paulinyi, who shares the very personal and unique backstory to her latest novel, At The Stroke of Thirty.
‘At the Stroke of Thirty’ is a very personal book for me. At the age of 29 (although not on the eve of my 30th birthday, like the main character in the book!) I had a stroke, which was entirely out of the blue. Writing this book was rather cathartic for me, as I included many of my own experiences – as well as giving Macy Maxwell a love story as she recovers from her stroke.
Macy’s feelings are very much based on my own experiences, and how I have recovered from this trauma – but it is still very much a work of fiction, exploring themes of family, friendship, life goals and where you really call home. I also brought my time living in the beautiful Northumberland into this novel, with the beautiful backdrop of places such as Bamburgh Castle weaved into the story.
While I struggled with my stroke during the Covid pandemic, but with family and friends around me at home to support me, Macy realises she has no support system when this catastrophe strikes – and so turns to those she knows she can rely on.
As hard as this book was to write, I think it is probably the one I am proudest of – and it has been great to hear other stroke survivors saying how much they could relate with what I was writing, even though each person’s experience with stroke can be so very different.
In spite of the difficult subject matter, I made sure to fill this story with hope and love and laughter, and the circle of friends Macy meets have inspired a continuation of the series, following the same theme of a life-changing event happening around the big three-oh birthday, and how it can change everything.
Just about to turn thirty, Macy Maxwell is loving her life. A busy social life, interesting work and a decent salary, she thinks she’s got it all figured out. And so what if she thought she’d be married with kids by the time she turned thirty? Life is easy and fun.
And then, the night before her thirtieth birthday, everything changes. A near-fatal stroke leaves Macy re-evaluating everything in her life, as she tries to heal and get back the woman she was before.
Will moving back to rural Northumberland, a stroke support group and a handsome shoulder to cry on help her to find the Macy she was – or help her become the Macy she wants to be?
Rebecca Paulinyi was born in the South West of England in February 1992. She has been writing since she was a child, starting with short stories and poems that rarely got finished. Her weekly school assignment of writing a diary about the weekend provided a perfect platform to be inventive, with Rebecca’s stories revolving around the aliens living on Planet Odd.
Writing has been her passion for years, and the unfinished stories became full length novels as she became a teenager. At eighteen she left home to go to York University, studying English Language and Linguistics, and following her graduation qualified as a teacher.
Rebecca now writes full time at her home in Bristol, where she lives with her husband, daughter and dog. As well as writing women’s romantic fiction, she also writes historical romances under the pen name ‘Daphne Quinn’.
This week marks a very special anniversary – it’s four years’ since the publication of my first book, The Theatre of Dreams. Back in August 2018 I was giddy with excitement, full of optimism. I loved my story of two actresses and their fight to save a seaside pavilion. That book was written straight from the heart. There was drama, romance, a seaside setting, a mystery. The Theatre of Dreams had it all. Surely this book would be a huge success and herald the start of a whole new literary career?
If only I knew then what I know now. Anyone who follows this blog will know that the last four years have been a rollercoaster ride of conflicting emotions, and not a dazzling romp to the top of the Sunday Times Bestseller Chart. But hey, I do have four books out there on Amazon. That’s four more books than a lot of people ever manage. Of course, I realise it’s not everybody’s ambition in life to write a book, let alone publish it, but in case it is, based on my own personal experiences, here are my top tips for surviving the publishing jungle.
Top Tip Number One
If you’re Intent on Capturing a Publisher – Choose your Publisher Carefully.
Of course, we all know it’s actually the other way round, the publisher chooses you. But the big publishers are the elephants and tigers of the jungle, and if you’re happy to snare a smaller beast – a warthog for example – do your research and make sure that warthog will satisfy your needs.
Whilst I’ll always be grateful for the publisher who gave me my first break, when I signed my contract, I was very naïve. I had zero knowledge of the jungle and was ill-equipped to tackle the tasks expected of me, which subsequently led to feelings of inadequacy and failure. On reflection, now that I’m older and wiser, I realise I hadn’t failed at all. My warthog was simply not the right warthog for me. I should have held out for a tiger.
Top Tip Number Two
Make Friends Wisely
At the start of my writing journey my social media following consisted almost entirely of people I knew personally. I was unaware there was a whole online writing/reading community out there. I didn’t know about Facebook author/book groups, bookstagrammers and bloggers. Four books later I do. The more you engage with the online world, the more followers and friends you gather. And while it’s true, the more people who know and like you, the more books you may sell, there is also a huge benefit in engaging with like-minded people. Every writer needs a support network and there is a wonderfully generous community of successful authors out there who are happy to pass on tips and advice.
Social media can seem overwhelming – especially with the rise of the dreaded do-I-don’t-I TikTok. Find your tribe and pick out the aspects you enjoy and are comfortable with. Don’t put yourself under pressure to befriend everyone and do it all, because you can’t. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day, week, year – at least not if you want to write more books.
Top Tip Number Three
Celebrate your Achievements
You’ve found an agent. WELL DONE YOU! You’ve netted a publisher. CONGRATULATIONS!
But what if the big stuff never happens? What if you don’t think you’ve got anything to sing about? Bash that negativity on the head and THINK POSITIVE.
Envy is a perfectly natural human emotion but always remember where you are on your own personal journey. You don’t have to be part of the elephant brigade to blow your own trumpet.
You’ve written a book, or maybe it’s just a short story. That’s an achievement. SHOUT ABOUT IT!
So you’ve only sold enough copies of your book this month to count on the fingers of one hand, BUT you have got a fabulous new 5 star review. LET EVERYONE KNOW ABOUT THOSE 5 STARS.
If you celebrate your success, other people will cheer with you.
Top Tip Number Four
Grab Every Opportunity
Networking IS important. If you have an opportunity for a 1-2-1 with a publishing professional, take it. If you can go to a conference, or a book festival, GO. Every connection you make, is a connection. I know I’ve had opportunities I’ve let slip; chances I didn’t follow up, and yes, I do sometimes wonder what might have been…
I’m naturally a shy person, and that has held me back. Writing has forced me half-way out of my shell. I’ve had to put myself out there and over the last four years I’ve become far more pro-active. I’ve talked to WIs and book groups, taken part in Facebook and Instagram Lives, a Podcast, things I never thought I would do. Stand up in a banqueting hall and give a talk to 100 people? With a mic? Crack jokes. Who me? If I’m talking about my love of writing, yes I can and I will.
Top Tip Number Five
Write the Book you want to Write
That’s easy for me to say now that I self-publish and I don’t have the constraints/obligations of a publishing contract. However, I have tried to conform. I have tried to write the book I think a publisher is looking for. When I came up with the idea for A Crisis at Clifftops, I started out with the serious intent of writing a traditional cosy mystery because cosies are currently the “in thing”. Amateur sleuth solves crime, tick. Nothing grisly/gory requiring in depth forensic knowledge, tick. Quaint countryside/seaside setting, tick. Potential for series to continue indefinitely, tick. Amateur sleuth is professional golfer, untick. Major suspect is amateur sleuth’s grandmother, untick. Also include vintage crime from sixty years earlier, untick. Add in another subplot involving resort redevelopment with far too many secondary characters, untick.
I can’t help it. I have a vivid imagination and a creative mind. I can’t reign it in, and when I do, I’m not happy. The words don’t flow.
Let your creative juices run wherever they want, and if that’s in the direction of an agent or a publisher’s wish-list, all the better. But if they meander off-piste… Think about what you want from your writing and why you do it. Do you want to conquer the jungle, or are you happy hanging about on the fringes?
I’m not going to lie. There’s still part of me that thinks it would be wonderful to get snapped up by one of those big tigers, but self-publishing has given me the control to write what I want to write and when I write it. I know my limitations. If I were younger I might be more ambitious, more committed to conform. It’s taken me a long time to reach the stage when I’m happy and comfortable with what I do.
And My Final Top Two Tips?
Two phrases I chanted like a mantra while adjusting to life as an ex-pat wife in the wilds of LA many years ago, but equally as applicable to surviving life in publishing jungle: DEVELOP A THICK SKIN and RETAIN A SENSE OF HUMOUR. I don’t think either requires any further explanation!