Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Publishing your novel: THEN AND NOW

I've been writing seriously for the last sixteen years but I can definitely say the publishing industry has changed drastically in that time.  I'll tell you a story of THEN and NOW and it's all linked to my experiences with my novel, THE PITMAN'S DAUGHTER (due out on August 31st)
THEN: I created the early drafts of this novel between 1997-1999.  Much of it was written when I studied Advanced Creative Writing with the late Carol Shields, Pulitzer Prizewinning author and wonderful teacher as well as mentor.
Encouraged by support for the story I applied for local Arts Council Grants and received three. When it was complete I composed a query letter and SENT IT DIRECT TO PUBLISHERS!! And not just any publisher - I sent it to Random House US, UK and Canada, as well as Penguin, Harper Collins, McMillan and numerous other huge publishing houses.  They all requested a full manuscript.  I was over the moon.  I sent them and waited.  And waited some more. Then some more.  The rejections trickled in but Harper Collins held onto it.  Finally they didn't go with it but their words were: I can honestly say [this novel] is one of the most engrossing submissions I have read since coming to Harper Collins - you came close - your story made a great impression on us. (Karen Hanson, Associate Editor).
In 2002 the novel reached the top 10 finalists in the Chapters/Robertson Davies First Novel in Canada Award but still no publisher!

NOW: Eleven years later the novel has gone through much revision, polishing, cutting, cleaning and improvement but there's NO WAY a writer can submit direct to a publisher any more. Now you need an agent and I do have a wonderful agent who's handling my other historical fiction.  But there's still the long wait for feedback and for struggling publishing houses to make decisions in this increasingly digitized world.
Guess what!  Now an author doesn't need to wait. We writers can take charge of our own projects and many are taking the plunge into self-publishing. Just read David Gaughran on the topic.
This project has a long history.  I want to retain control of it.  More writers are doing the same!  That's why I'll decide when and how THE PITMAN'S DAUGHTER is published and you won't have to wait to read it!

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