We love hearing your success stories – from finishing the first draft of your novel to finding an agent or seeing your work in print. Writer and LWC member, James Davies shares his Journey To Publication in the following guest blog. His novel , Noho- a thriller, set in the 1930’s, was published in September and is available in bookshops and on Amazon.
I’ve loved writing for as long as I can remember. As I child I used to handwrite pages of stories, staple them together and make my own covers with pencils and crayons. As I grew older and school essays and maths homework started to intrude on my life, (not to mention pubs and parties) I had less time to write, and I dropped out of the habit for a while, eventually finding me way back to the path of the scribe at university, where I focussed on journalism.
Fiction took a back seat for a long time as I freelanced, then worked as a magazine journalist, but as I moved up the slippery corporate ladder and spent less time writing and more time managing, I found myself being drawn back the imaginary worlds of my fiction.
I guess like many LWC members I spent many an evening and weekend hunched over a keyboard, churning out pages of work. The first weren’t very good, but over time I’d like to think I’ve got better. I started to read about the craft of writing more and to take those lessons on board, and at some point, I discovered the LWC, at this point, with what I hoped were two saleable novels, plus a host of ideas.
As I queried and queried, racking up a larger pile of rejections, I began to realise that writing a book is not even half the battle, actually getting it published is the next struggle, and as I’m realising now, after publication, marketing and making sales is a whole new, and necessary, ball game.
So how did I go from aspiring writer to published writer with my first glowing press reviews? I’d like to say that it was easy, but it wasn’t, it was hard, and there was no magic approach; no shining synposis, no mystical phrase in a query letter or chance meeting with an agent. No, what I did, was to send out submission after submission.
What was surprising was the way my first publishing contract arrived. I’d submitted to a small publisher and when I saw the reply email I was mentally prepared for yet another rejection, this time though, it was different. The email had an editor’s report on my novel attached, by far the most detailed feedback I’d received to date, and the accompanying note stated that if I was prepared to revise the novel in line with the report, they might consider it.
Wow! I set to work and had a redraft back with them in a short space of time. A month went by, then another. I sent a chaser email. They said they were busy. Some more months slipped by and in my mind another window had closed. I checked my mail one day and saw an email from the publishers, at last, the rejection… Only it wasn’t. In a short mail they apologised for the delay, said they liked the book and asked me to sign and return the publishing contract attached!
Following the return of the contract and my manuscript some weeks went by while I waited for the email apologising for the terrible mistake. It never came, what did come were editor’s notes, cover art and more.
Noho was published in September and is out there now, on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, WH Smith, Waterstones and in shops.
Of course, as I’m finding out, books don’t sell themselves if no one knows about them, so while I’d like to say I’m feverishly working on the follow up, my time is spent chasing marketing leads, trying to get reviews, and generally trying to boost the profile of the book.
As an author these days, you are not just a writer, you need to also be able to market your book, reach out to contacts and build a network. I think unless you’re a very big name, the days of delivering a manuscript and waiting for your royalty cheques are gone: you’ll be expected to get involved and market the book as much as your publisher, so don’t neglect mentioning your willingness to do this in any conversations with publishers or agents.
It’s been a steep learning curve, but a fabulous one, and seeing your book on sale is a very special feeling. If I could give a single piece of advice to LWC members it would be “perseverance” at all stages of the writing, publishing and sales process.
When a dead dancing girl with all the wrong connections is found with Nick Valentine’s name scrawled on a scrap of paper in her pocket, life gets a lot more complicated for the disgraced Great War hero. Unwillingly drawn into a web of espionage and crime in the underbelly of 1930’s London, Nick soon discovers that who killed her may be less important than why. As the net closes and the case draws to an increasingly bloody conclusion, Nick is left to tie up the loose ends at a terrible personal cost.
Noho is available through a variety of channels, including Amazon: