Yes, guys, in case you hadn’t heard, I’ve got a two book digital first publishing deal! *happy dance with particularly exuberant thrusting moves and a showy-off body roll* So naturally a quick blog update is in order, where I’d like to pass on some words of wisdom to all the disheartened aspiring authors out there, and reassure them that perseverance and hard work do pay off in the end.
A few years ago, I met the very knowledgeable and straight talking Jean Fullerton (award winning historical author and all round amazing lady) at an RNA Chelmsford Chapter meeting, where bookish talk was the order of the day. In conversation, she told me it took her three years to qualify as a Registered General Nurse, a further year to qualify as a District Nurse, and another eighteen months to qualify as a lecturer in nursing. Why, she said, would it take her any less time to perfect her writing skills enough to get published?
Her comments gave me pause for thought. We all dream of an early book deal, with publishers clambering over each other to sign up our amazing debut novel (and it does occasionally happen) but Jean’s words forced me to be realistic about my publishing expectations in those early days, and helped me to plan my long term goals. It was an astute reminder that not many people are fortunate enough to get their first book published. Because Jean was right, writing, like most professions, involves a myriad of skills and it takes time to learn and perfect them.
Fast forward a few years, during which time I wrote four full-length novels, finally got a place on the RNA New Writers’ Scheme, and had two critiques back for Lucy’s Locket. It was duly sent off to agents and put forward for some open submissions. And then knock me down with a violently swinging feather duster – I got a call from Victoria Oundjian to say Avon Books loved my manuscript and would like to offer me a two book deal. I was stunned – partly because I’d totally forgotten about the submission, but partly because although I was proud of Lucy’s Locket, I thought I was still on my journey. As the call ended, I flopped into my chair and stared at the study wall, still in my coat, wondering what just happened, and what I needed to do next.
However, sitting at the feet of so many wise and wonderful authors over the past few years, I have caught the inevitable breadcrumbs dropped from their published authors’ banqueting table. (There were a awful lot of empty Prosecco bottles up there. . . #justsaying) I joined the Society of Authors (highly recommend – they have a legal team which will vet any contracts and they are continually fighting for author’s rights in these difficult times) and was particularly dogged chasing up Louise Buckley from Zeno Literary Agency – an agent who had been very generous with her comments regarding my manuscript in the past. I was delighted when she offered me representation. (Do check out Zeno’s website as Louise is currently open for submissions.)
Cue mucho excitemento and some serious celebrations. *cough – Prosecco* Cue also the serious business of deadlines, edits and the thrilling but scary treadmill of story production. 2018 is my year; an agent and a publisher. 2019 will see “The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker” out on Kindle in January. (Avon Books UK, Harper Collins.)
I’ve had my share of rejections, and written books that will never see the light of day, but it was all part of the learning process. The key is to keep plugging away. Write your book, make it the very best you can, send it out into the world and listen to the feedback you receive. Then write another. And another. . . and keep going until you get there.
Right now, in Jenni-world, everything is new and shiny. So much of what is about to come is unknown but I intend to embrace it all because I know, much like nursing or any other profession, there will always be new skills to learn. And that is an exciting prospect.
Please check out Jean’s latest book “Pocketful of Dreams” if you are partial to a heart-warming WW2 East End saga https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pocketful-Dreams-Jean-Fullerton/dp/1786491389.