Debbie Davies author of Any Love But Mine shares her story into becoming a published author, and gives aspiring authors some advice into becoming published. Everyone knows that writing the novel is the easy part. Learn about Debbie Davies journey into becoming published, and about alternative routs into becoming published in the following article.
In my experience getting the story down on paper is the easy part; finding someone to put it out there into the world is difficult! I began writing my debut novel Any Love but Mine around two years ago. It took me approximately nine months to write and then about six months of ferocious editing and re-drafting until I felt it was perfect. At this point I naively thought the first agent I sent my query to would find my book as amazing as I did and sign me instantly. It didn’t quite go that way! In fact my novel was rejected by most of the literary agencies I sent it to. The rejections had a variety of different reasons (most I suspect were standard rejections and not actually relevant to my book) but I learnt to absorb the disappointment each rejection gave me and move on. You see there are tens of thousands of writers out there all doing the same as you; so you have to work extra hard, to make sure you get noticed in the sea of potential.
I started to explore other routes to publication after talking to other authors on writing network sites. They gave me some insight into self-publishing and indie publishing. I’d never really considered self-publishing but this is becoming a more popular and successful route for a lot of authors. Instead I looked at indie publishing houses where you can contact the editor directly. It was here I got my contract!
Indie publishing houses are smaller than the major publishing houses but they still have major success stories. They have more contacts in the publishing world than you would if you were self-publishing; and they foot the costs of creating your book, its cover and its advertising. I see them as a halfway house between having a literary agent and self-publishing.
My advice to unpublished authors out there would be; not to give up, not to take rejection personally and to make sure you always believe in yourself – if you don’t who will? Don’t be afraid either to take risks. One of my greatest downfalls was not letting anyone read my book to give me their opinion on the story; I was so scared they’d all just laugh at it and look at me like I was crazy. I finally after many rejections let two of my friends read the story. I wanted to check I wasn’t deluding myself into thinking I’d created a beautiful story that was in fact total rubbish that made no sense! This was one of the best moves I’d ever made.
One of my friends fell absolutely in love with the book. We spent hours talking about the different characters and where she could see areas of improvement including the parts, that as a reader she didn’t understand. My other friend liked the book and gave me really helpful feedback regarding parts that didn’t flow in the best way. From their comments I redrafted and made the book even better. Getting their outside perspective was so helpful because I could never read the book like a reader. I could only ever read it as the writer. So when I was reading it all I would think was, which bit can I change? I also had no idea how well the romance or the suspense was being built up; because I knew what happened in the end!
Also take your time and do your research! I spent so long writing my book that the first few query letters took me about five minutes to write. Looking at them now they made no sense and if I was a literary agent I would have laughed at them. Spend some time getting the perfect query letter and synopsis together. Most agents request the same thing so you can create a standard query. A query letter usually consists of; a paragraph about yourself, a paragraph about your book and then a paragraph about its marketability. Make sure though you read the agents guidelines thoroughly and always personalise your query letter to that agency. Some agencies have it written in their submission guidelines that you have to say why you are querying them; they will ignore your query if you do not put this information in. It is also important to only query the relevant agencies. Don’t blindly send your submission to a hundred agents in the writers and artists yearbook. Go through a list of agencies and short list those that represent your genre. From here jot down their requirements and when you query them, cross out each requirement as you meet it in your query letter.
Finally, the publishing industry is exceptionally subjective! If you are going to try the traditional route of agent and major publishing house, then chances are you are going to face rejection somewhere. This doesn’t mean your book is awful. Try not to let it put you off trying elsewhere. If you look at any entertainment industry such as films or music; I guarantee you will see something you don’t like but it’s still really popular. That is because the people behind it found the right representation. That’s what you need to do! You might be lucky and the first place your query snap you up or it might be the hundredth. The point is it will happen if you keep trying.
There are some great writing community sites out there you can join. These are full of aspiring writers just like you and me. They can offer new routes that you hadn’t thought of, feedback on your work and support when you need it. Take a look at them any time you’re feeling a bit lost or you’re ready to give up on your dream. They should help get you back on track.