Archive for June, 2012

Like many writers, I found it difficult getting published, but then even giving yourself permission to think of yourself as a writer can also be difficult. We often think of writing, like art or music, as something other people do. It wasn’t until I started an evening course on short story writing that I realised how important writing had been in my life.

Writing had been a big part of almost every job I had ever done. I had even written a calypso for a Christmas party when working at the WALES Tourist Board. Yet though I had always read a lot and told myself that one day I would write a novel,  I had never really thought of myself as a writer. That first evening course made me realise how much I enjoyed writing, and how much there was to learn. It got me into the habit of writing regularly, gave me that permission to think of myself as a writer.  I began searching for my voice as a writer and thinking about what I wanted to say, what I needed to write.

One of my short stories won a prize in the Wells Literary Competition.  It was an amazing experience to hear it read by a professional actor on local radio. Knowing that others liked my writing gave me more confidence about taking on a novel. Another short story I wrote gave me the idea for  ‘Avon Street’

When the first draft of ‘Avon Street’was completed I began sending it out to publishers and Agents. Slowly, because that seems to be the way the Book industry works, the rejections began piling up. Most were standard letters that said little other than that they were not interested. the rejections eat into your confidence, confirm the thinking that writing is what other people do. Yet every now and again came a response with actual feedback. These were like gold. They recognised merits in my writing, gave me some hope, told me I could write. Occasionally they even made suggestions as to how the manuscript could be improved.

I tested the opening chapters on two websites where writers review each other’s work. The chapters did well and the comments I received helped in sharpening the dialogue and improving the pace of the story. The book was spotted on one of these websites and I got my first publishing deal. The book was edited, proofs were checked, a cover designed and my novel appeared on Amazon.  But getting published can be a rough ride. Sadly, six weeks before ‘Avon Street’ was due to be released the publisher went into liquidation and it was back to the drawing-board.

Eventually I found a new publisher. ‘Avon Street’ was to be the first book in the second year of a new crime fiction imprint. But again it never made it to the book shops. The first year did not go as well as the publisher anticipated, the imprint was cancelled and my book was returned unpublished. I kept going and found a third publisher.

This time it made it.  On February 11th 2012 I received the first printed copy of my book from, The History Press. I had known for months that ‘Avon Street’ was going to be published, after all, I had signed a contract, checked the proofs, seen it for sale on Amazon. But it was only when I held a copy of the book in my hand that I allowed myself to believe that I was a published writer.

The most important things I’ve learned on the roller-coaster ride are to hang onto the sense of joy that writing gives,  to value feedback, and to trust in your writing. Trying to get published can be (though not always) a very negative process.  But writing can give you so much. It gives you the chance to create, to communicate, to look at the world from new perspectives, and to explore and enjoy the beauty of words. And it’s great when you write a story, or poem, or article, or book, or even a sentence, and you just know – It Works – and others enjoy it.

Another lesson I learned is not to pose a book next to a cup of coffee. The one pictured above is now heavily coffee-stained.

Most of this post was hosted on Caroline Smaile’s Blog on 26th March 2012, but I thought I’d post it here too.

Caroline is the author of several succesful novels.  Her latest e-book is – “99 Reasons Why”


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