Thursday, 13 November 2014

My Journey of Many Halves 4: A Home for a Novel, or Maybe two...?

Right. Where was I?

Ah yes.

I feeling pretty good at this point. I am ready to start shopping around Shutter Speed, and Charles is shopping around Redemption. Things are on the up. Except sales for The Devil's Hand. But with that, it doesn't seem to matter what I do. I'll turn it around one day.

Finding a home for a novel.

So, do I find an agent, or do I find a Publishing House. I nominated a Publishing House. I've been writing for years, but I am still learning my trade. Particularly novel length work. (I'm not saying I know everything about short stories. If I did I'd be rich.) I don't consider my work to be ready. Why? Confidence. Straight up confidence. Should you agent your first novel? Don't ask me. Maybe. That's on you.

Lesson 5: Finding a Publishing House for a novel is a slow process. Even with small presses, and new presses, the turn around time on a novel is - can be - vast. Having just finished writing something as monumental as your first novel, you want people to read it, of course. Well, you might have to wait 3 months for someone to read the first chapter. Or six. Or twelve. Or more.

So I put it out there.

With confidence as it is I start with what I thought of as mid-level submissions. Publishers who had a track record, but weren't big six, as such. Some that I had see people work with and some that I had researched.

Lesson 6: Follow Submission Guidelines and write a good letter. Having dragged myself through the short story submissions of my early days I am lucky enough to be able to follow guideline submissions with ease. It is something you learn hard and fast when submitting to anthologies, and you get used to the idea they are all slightly different. BUT THEY ARE SO IMPORTANT. Then you have to write a submissions letter. Some guidelines will tell you what they want from the letter some won't. There are plenty of websites that will advise you on content. My winning letter? I got lucky. I sidestepped it. I queried a Publishing House from an online form about submission periods and was fortunate enough to strike up a dialogue with the owner. He asked for the first five chapters, and the rest was history. In fact, the novel was snapped up. Wheels turned quicker by this lucky meeting than I could have wished.

The letter I was using was polite. Personalized first paragraph addressing the press, a couple of blurbs about my other work, synopsis, polite finish.

Which leads me to:

Lesson 7: Keep notes, keep on top, keep informed. I was submitting to Publishing Houses that accepted simultaneous submissions. This means I am submitting my work to many places at the same time. Shutter Speed was picked up and I was over joyed. Within hours of the contract being signed (I read this one much more carefully, and I queried sections I was unsure of), it was plastered over social media. My "baby" had a home. Everyone rejoiced. Except I got an email from a Publishing House. One I had simultaneously submitted to. I was, probably is still, one of the most important emails I ever received.

It was like an email from a friend. I was congratulated on publishing my novel. Then in the most polite way possible I was advised that before I start shouting on social media about my publication, I should inform other presses that it had been accepted. It was the polite and professional thing to do. It used the term BURNING BRIDGES. And it was right. Not only did it teach me a valuable lesson, but the close of the email asked if I would give the press "a first exclusive peek", "love to see another novel from you in the future", and " feel free to pitch something to me any time".

They had given me invaluable advice, and a confidence boost. I was on top of my game suddenly.

Then Charles informed me he had a bite on Redemption. I had another contract to read. He'd found us a home.

It was all happening.

And then out of the blue I got contacted about my short story collection captured in contractual hell. It freed me. A single, short, sharp, email releasing me from my contract.

Shutter Speed was coming out. Redemption had contractual negotiations. The Human Condition was mine again.

OMG.

Tomorrow: One comes out, two comes out, I find out why The Hand doesn't sell. Another Book? Oh, my!


***




Jimmy Tasker is an ordinary child. He loves to take pictures: has an eye for it. When some common bullies take things too far, Jimmy ends up burned… and different. It starts when his father is killed in a mysterious house fire.

Him and his mother move away… change names… disappear.

Some years later a group of friends are finding it tough. They are unemployed, short of cash, and one of them comes up with a great idea. A robbery. But they are a rag-tag bunch, and Steve declines, leaving the other three, a misogynist, an addict, and poor, easily led Peter, to pull off the ‘robbery of the century’.

But Jimmy is still in there, somewhere…

… and he’s killing for fun.


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