Well we have been in lockdown for a while now and I don’t know about anyone else, but it took until mid-May for me to finally find my feet in the new world we find ourselves in. I still sometimes wonder what the hell happened. One-minute life was running along nicely, I’d had a few holidays. In January I went freelance and started my new job working part-time for Newark Book Festival. I’d had a great chat with an agent about my book, my travel journal was all ready to go and then suddenly the world went into absolute bloody chaos!
After we’d already organised 75% of the festival, we then had to re-imagine it and it felt like we were organising it all over again. Certainly, a baptism of fire into this new world. I don’t think I’ve ever helped to write so many emails! Also, not helpful that my income will be affected throughout the year and because I’m newly self-employed I’m not entitled to one penny, not even a half penny – showing my age! ((You need to start selling more books Peachy. Everyone is stuck at home now; they might even read your erm amazing books… Phew think I got away with that one folks))
As I said in my last blog, I had to postpone the launch of my New Zealand paperback (eBook currently still available!) because there was a delay in receiving the proof copy due to the pandemic… and this is probably part of the reason even big publishers have had to delay launches. Also, most of the book festivals and events have had to cancel, or find a new way to run them, so it means most of those promotional opportunities have been lost or gone online. Which in turn means the online world is flooded with so much information I sometimes hide my phone because it becomes overwhelming. ((It must be bad Peachy; you’re not known for your emotion… and you’re a social media addict!))
To my point about the agent, earlier in the year I’d paid to have a 1-1 with an agent to get feedback on my psychological thriller. This seemed to go really well. I was given the suggestion to change my target audience from adult to young adult and went away to change a few chapters to see if I could adapt it to this style. Resent the chapters, thinking that I was going to get feedback on if it works, or maybe potentially an offer of representation, only to get an email nearly three months later ((Hence the patience!)) yes Brackets, although the world had gone into crisis at this point so in this case anyone can be forgiven for taking longer. But basically, it was a rejection and I didn’t even get the constructive feedback I thought I was going, and that’s where that story ends, because only so much energy and time can be given to negativity and sometimes that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.
So, what do you do? It’s Friday afternoon and you’ve received disappointing news after waiting a long time. Your novel is gathering dust, your characters stamping their feet. I didn’t feel like I could work on that novel until I received the feedback and what I did get, has gotten me no further than I was three months ago. ((It’s a tricky one Peachy – you could make yourself a gin and forget the tonic? Eat a couple of bars of chocolate, ramming them in your mouth whilst singing along to a sad song like in Bridget Jones diary… or you can have a massive tantrum filmed on that new app thing and become an internet sensation!)) I think I will pass on all those Brackets unless you can make that a glass of fizz or Baileys.
Well what did I do? I read the email. Reflected on the comments. Rang my mum because at 44 my mum is still my ‘go to’ person. Messaged and Facetimed some of my wonderful friends. Then I did what I do. I assimilated all the information to hand. I’d been reading that submissions to agents are up and in an already tough market I thought do I really want to spend all that time and energy on a submission, when it would be likely to be lost in void… this is not being defeatist or grumpy because I’ve had a rejection, but I see signs that the market has changed. Debut authors and established authors are having their book launches delayed – some until next year and into 2022. So, what does this mean for new authors trying to find a voice in an already challenging market? I don’t know, I’m not an expert. I can only decide what that means to me.
In the interest of being honest which is what I always try to do. What would I be saying now if the email had been more positive? ((Yippee. Pass me the champagne probably and shot of café patron.)) You’re not wrong there Brackets. All notions of self-publishing would have been put to one side whilst I focused on re-writing my story in a different way, and who is to say that after all this it would have been successful. I’ve heard a lot that writers say be true to your style. So, who knows, that story is for another version of me to live out in an alternative universe ((Ohhh, I love a bit of Sci-fi!!)) Me too Brackets.
I’m not one to give up. I’m made up of at least 95% stubbornness and I’m certainly thankful that I am. I have lots of patience, but do I really want to send off my novel again and leave it sitting in an inbox for three months while I wait for someone to decide on my future. Or adapt to a changing market and stick to self-publishing for a while and start submitting at another point in time. This puts me back in control and my success back into my own hands. With this comes a cost, because paying for editing, proof reading, covers and formatting all comes at a price. I’ve self-published four books now and feel I have the experience and an amazing group of talented people to help me publish books I’m proud of.
Anyway, to my plans and a routine. I sat down one day for a binge watch of Walking Dead, it was either that or Lord of the Rings again. Got my notebook and pens, and as well as writing loads of lists, i also created myself a routine, which included exercise, book festival work, writing, research and social media plans. Immediately I felt calmer and more in control of my life. Three weeks into my routine and it’s working well. Of course, there is a bit of flexibility in there. Emotions are so all over the place, every hour can result in feeling happy, followed by feeling sad and back to happy again… is anyone else the same? I’ve also started having a complete social media break on a Thursday morning ((Come on now Peachy, confess to a sneaky look here and there??)) you give away all my secrets! Yes, I do have the ‘odd’ sneaky look, but overall, I have three hours without interruption and it’s wonderful.
So, to the plans… hopefully towards the end of June I should be able to publish the paperback of my travel book, 187 Kilometres, turn left. I’m waiting for it to be formatted so I can then order my proof copy. I’ve nearly finished writing my Children’s Fantasy novel after having to revisit it when I lost a lot of it – explained in previous blog. ((Dragons!)) Then I will be carrying on with my time travel novel, which is based in Newark and around the Civil War era, which will hopefully be published the end of October. Or maybe I will publish my fantasy novel… ((Dragons!!)) the freedom of being self-published. The one thing I can say is that I’m really enjoying getting back to my characters – writing is such a privilege.
Whatever troubles and setbacks you face, don’t give up. Be patient or find another way to achieve your goal. Every author has a different path to publication. You must do what feels right for you, particularly in this changing world we find ourselves. There is hope, we just need to look for it and believe we can make it.
That’s me signing off until the 1st July. Fingers crossed my travel book will be arriving on a doorstep near you – or flung over a garden fence depending on who delivers it. There might be some special editions available as well…
Take care and stay safe my friends xx
P.S. In the next blog i will talk about the steps to publication. From a spark of an idea – to a real BOOK!!