More Books than Bikinis 4 – Seeking out a Publisher

To start this, the next instalment in my writing story, I began by looking back at part 3, Final draft to Submission and realised how much time had passed by – a year! I have not been sitting on my hands waiting for a publishing deal to come to me. Much has happened behind the scenes, including a slight change of direction, and I am definitely one year wiser in the ways of the publishing world. To remind you here’s that last post. Read on to hear what happened next…

Self belief

Maintaining self-belief is one of the hardest parts of being a writer. If you are writing your first novel, or submitting it to agents, without success (yet) you may be forgiven for thinking you are the only person to doubt your ability, and that all those published authors out there are full of creative confidence, with words flowing effortlessly onto paper. Every. Single. Writer, almost without exception, has these moments. You only need listen to podcasts like the excellent Creative Writers Toolbelt or attend events like the Writers Day with The Literary Consultancy (TLC) to hear bestselling authors discussing this very challenge. For me hearing the likes of Winnie M Li, Freya North and Ruth Hogan speak has made all the difference. Knowing we share the same challenges has brought me comfort and helped me keep going.

Professional Advice

Something wasn’t working and I needed to take stock. After submission number 17 with much positive feedback from agents but still no offers of representation, I took the decision to seek more detailed professional advice. I commissioned a manuscript review of Pivotal from TLC, receiving a detailed report on my submission letter and the first 15,000 words. There were lots of positives in the report, some extremely constructive criticisms and some comments which didn’t quite ring true. I let the feedback sink in, whilst considering the changes I might need to make.

I discussed the report with an editor friend, my beta readers and read an excellent book by agent Sandra O’Donnell called Your First Fifteen Pages. Sandra has analysed hundreds of successful novels, identifying the key elements of each book present in the first fifteen pages. Combining the knowledge gained from her book and my manuscript review I came to two conclusions: I could be confident in Pivotal but further revisions would be necessary to make it shine.

Eyes on the Prize

When you have an all-consuming clearly defined goal, it makes it so much easier to take the action necessary to reach your destination. I asked myself the following question: What am I trying to achieve with the book? The answer has always been, to entertain as many readers as possible with a physical book sold in a bookshop. But how? Even in the time since submission number one, the publishing landscape had shifted, and the traditional model was now one of several possible routes to achieve my goal.

Having purchased the Mslexia Indie Press Guide, I decided to investigate this route whilst at the same time looking for a professional editor to help me polish the manuscript. Changing tack I made the decision to research and target independent publishers with a genuine interest in my book and keep my eyes on the prize.

The Deal

I started this blog post talking about self-belief. It was self-belief which propelled my feet down the stairs to the Independent Publishers Guild (IPG) stand at the London Book Fair last year. Publishers aren’t scary people. Still, many writers barely venture outside the Author HQ at the fair, thinking that the ground floor is the exclusive domain of book business. It is true that many business relationships are being nurtured there and most meetings are pre-arranged but everyone I talked to was extremely helpful. It was through these interactions combined with my pre-fair research that I first met my publisher.

Let’s face it, without authors the business of books would not exist. It is the ability to distance yourself from your creative work and see your book in this way which will ultimately lead to its publication. You need to be bold, follow your instincts and seek out the right people to support you and share a belief in your book. If you follow me on social media you’ll know that Pivotal will be published in Oct 2019 by Hashtag Press!

So, what steps did I take next? How did this lead to a deal? I promise to fill you in with my next post very soon. In the meantime if you would like to sign up to my VIP launch list to be first to receive news, special pre-sale offers, the cover reveal and details of the Launch party VIP List. Watch out for More Books than Bikinis part 5 later this month and if you have a writing project, keep believing and keep writing. Until the next time…

© Nikki Vallance 2019

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