I know there have been a few gaps, and then two blogs come along at once…
…but I have to respond to the positive feedback I’ve had regarding the article in this month’s [Feb issue] Writing Magazine.
The article was written by journalist and author Tina Orr Munro and chronicled the remarkable journey I’ve had with my first two novels. Many fellow writers have expressed surprise that with a scriptwriting background and two of the country’s most respected literary agents supporting me I wasn’t offered a traditional book deal. I don’t think there are any easy answers to the recurring question I’ve in various emails, namely, ‘what can I do to avoid this myself?’
Liking someone’s work and recognising what might prove popular is always going to be subjective. Experienced literary agents are skilled at it, as indeed are the majority of commissioning editors. However, although agents do take a risk, by investing their own time, and inevitably money in their charges, they don’t take quite the same risks that publishers do. Times are hard, and everyone is feeling the pinch, and as I’ve quoted in this blog before ‘woe betide those who back the wrong horse’. They have directors and shareholders to account to.
Despite the fact that unfortunate ‘financial’ timing might have played a part, as I expect did plain old fashioned bad luck, the most difficult thing of all to accept was that my two agents, Peter Straus and Broo Doherty, were once making those very decisions at major publishing houses themselves.
Had my books found their way to them some time earlier I’m sure things would have turned out differently… but sometimes that elusive cocktail of hitting the right person at the right time doesn’t always mix. From the feedback I’ve had I am clearly not alone in that experience! My writer friend who has had a fair few novels published was very candid about it, ‘I just got lucky’ she said, ‘in fact my publisher backed my first book for success far more than my agent did.’
Many writers, some now household names, have gone through severe setbacks, but they persevered, and I found some of their stories inspirational. What I learned is that it’s no good moping and bemoaning your bad luck. Sometimes you just have to accept it as part of the journey and think ahead. I could have tried other publishers but with so many new authors now finding success through the direct publishing route it seemed the best option.
As things worked out I’m very pleased with the response to ‘Kiss and Tell’ and having now jumped in at the deep end it’s good to be able to help others who find themselves in similar situations. I’m glad some fellow scribes have found my own journey helpful, and wish all the best to those who have been in touch to express their goodwill and share their own stories.