Friday, 4 October 2013

So you want to write a book?

When I was a fifteen, I wanted to go to University and be a writer. You have massive dreams when you’re a child. Unfortunately my own choices led me in another direction and ultimately down a path of tedious jobs and a miserable marriage.

Then I broke free!!! In 2011 I graduated from Leeds Metropolitan University with a 1st class honours degree and even won the McGraw Hill outstanding achievement award.  There was no stopping me now, three decades on I was back on track! You’re never too old!

On the 26th December 2011, after reading Wuthering Heights for the hundredth time over Christmas, I decided to fulfil my other life ambition – I began to write again. By September my first draft was completed. I had a number of highly critical people read my book as I produced it and was elated at their response. They loved the characters and what’s more asked questions as to what was likely to happen in the sequel. Job done, I thought.

How wrong I was!! I did have a bit of a head start as I knew about self-publishing and having to find an agent if I wanted a publisher to print my 'masterpiece'. It was only just the beginning. I researched all the available websites and was overwhelmed.   I am probably not on my own thinking the whole process is unnecessarily convoluted and stacked against new writers unless you are a famous person and want to jump on the “ghost writing because I can” bandwagon. I spent weeks trawling the internet and registered with goodness knows how many websites and I concluded I needed an agent to find an agent!!

So the quest began – I wrote to agents and never received replies from some of them. Others were ‘no thank you’ and on the rare occasion I actually received some valuable feedback. Even if it was only one line, it raised my hopes up that actually I could write after all.  I was encouraged to continue by a published author who took the time to read my first three chapters on a website I had subscribed to and he gave me the best feedback possible.  Taking heed of his feedback I made amendments.

The main problem with the publishing industry and agents is not that they are mean spirited people, well not all of them anyway, they are under enormous pressure to find the next best seller. However, equally they cannot grumble if people decide to cut them out and go to self-publishing, not that I’m recommending either route. Agents and publishers could help themselves by helping the authors. My main gripe is spending time setting up a synopsis and sample chapters only to find that the next agent wants a completely different format. Surely, as an industry the format could be standardised and simplified?  Then you have the unscrupulous companies who set websites up under the guise of “Do you want to have your book published today?” only to find that they are not publishers or agents but, in fact, organisations prepared to fleece you with your hard earned cash just to read your book and then tell you what you already know!

I’m not giving up!! I refuse to, even if the odds are stacked against me!! It’s time authors fought back! Come the revolution and all that…… 

Almost two years down the line I have my publishing deal with a great publisher and no agent in sight. I am also working hard on the sequel.

Sometimes you just have to have faith in yourself and go for it!

Twitter : @beyondthepast1