Earlier this Month in More Books Than Bikinis, Part 4 – Seeking out a Publisher, I promised to bring you up to date on Pivotal’s journey to publication. If you have been following me on Social Media you will know we have reached an extremely exciting stage, with the cover reveal and pre-orders available (more of this later) but first allow me to take you back to explain exactly how the deal came about.

Getting on with it!

In October 2018, having paused submissions to agents whilst I commissioned a professional edit of the manuscript, I arranged to meet Abiola Bello for lunch. This was our third meeting. The food was OK, but the advice, as ever was exceptional and the company delightful. I’m not just saying that because Hashtag is now my publisher, but because her support for me and genuine enthusiasm for Pivotal have always shone through. I’d imagine, much like an choosing an agent, choosing a publisher is a two way process and that chemistry is key. We discussed the ins and outs of how the publication process might work and I left the lunch with my decision made; a few days later my submission landed in the Hashtag inbox.

Although I felt confident, nothing was guaranteed, so just in case, I went through the whole Mslexia Indie Press guide, shortlisting alternative publishers based on genre specialisms, styles of working and focusing on the smaller presses with big ambitions. To me, the benefit of working directly with a publisher is the opportunity for close creative collaboration, so in some ways the smaller the better!

Luckily for me I didn’t need to act on the research as, only a few days later, I received a request for my full manuscript and then a week after that, the wonderful news of an offer of publication. In two weeks I’d gone from unpublished to an offer, eight months after our first meeting, and twenty one months after completing my first draft! Just goes to show persistence, as per my earlier blog is key!

A couple of weeks later, I was due into London for a family theatre trip to see Warhorse (which was stunning by the way) and arranged to meet Abiola and Hashtag’s other co-founder Helen Lewis beforehand, to discuss our next steps and talk through ideas for publication dates, launch parties, PR etc. I know I’m biased but what a team! By early December we had discussed and agreed contracts and I had signed on the dotted line!

I could have waited. I could have continued to seek an agent and a traditional deal with a large publisher but Hashtag felt like the right home for Pivotal, especially since they had a publication slot available for October, a month with a serendipitous relevance to the story.

Meeting a Deadline

In some ways, the writing and polishing of early drafts is easy. Of course, not really, but it is at least unencumbered by deadlines. Once you have a deal and a publishing schedule to adhere to, things seem much more serious. It’s not a bad thing, especially not for someone like me. I learned recently that most of the time I am ‘externally referenced’. The coaches and therapists amongst you will know this means I am motivated by how other people view me or my work. Having a deadline for my post editorial, final draft made everything feel very real. At the same time though, it really worked for me. I wanted to deliver the manuscript in the best possible shape and on time, so I worked flat out for about 6 weeks (post-Christmas) and made my mid-February deadline with a few days to spare. I’ll share more about the editing process in another blog soon. At this point let’s just say at times it was straightforward, at others it was agonising and others my brain felt fried! Note to self: try not to write quite such a complicated plot next time.

March and April have been spent working on my online presence, or author platform. Updating my website and social media accounts, PR preparation questionnaires, photoshoots and email marketing. Much of this activity is an ongoing process, particularly as I have just changed my email service. Thankfully, I have amazing support from Sarah Stiffin, my online business manager for my tech and LiterallyPr for promotional activity.

This is all part of the business end of launching a book.
And to bring us bang up to date, I can’t finish without mentioning Pivotal’s fabulous cover design! It’s another example of creative collaboration at it’s finest. From my original brief, we worked through several iterations inspired by recent covers in my genre. Once we’d nailed our concept, Helen Braid produced this beautiful and eye-catching design. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to be involved in the process, which may not have been the case with a larger publisher and will dedicate another post to this process and its importance.

Being an author, whether you have the support and resources of a large publisher or not requires a fair amount of work which is ‘non-writing’ work. If I’m feeling resentful, which I most often do when the tech seems to be working against me or the time spent on social media seems to dominate my day, I remind myself of my goal for Pivotal: to reach as wide an audience as possible. To which end, if you’re not already signed up and would like to help me spread the word, please add yourself to my mailing list by clicking here. Anyone who joins by the 30th June will find out about exciting news of a very special launch party and your chance to be there.

And if you’d like to pre-order a copy click here!

Nikki Vallance © 2019

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