ALL IN A WRITER’S LIFE
The time between a commissioning editor accepting a novel to the actual date of the novel’s publication can seem like infinity. I often remind new writers of this when a story is so topical its sell by date has already come and gone before hitting an agent’s desk.
Published writers are familiar with the scenario. In short, it can be a frustrating business. For the uninitiated, here’s a brief rundown of the reality of the mechanics. It goes something like this: Your book has been accepted. Cue popping corks, big smiles and mega excitement. Some time later you’re asked to carry out edits. At this point it’s not uncommon to have a petulant ‘what is going on?’ moment. This is when the newly injured writer, creativity in tatters, calls his or her agent, moans like hell, and then flees to the garden and screams long and loud at the sky. Sound and fury spent, the sensible settle down and discover to huge embarrassment that the hotshot editor assigned to the book talks great sense, really gets the story, and his or her suggestions are worth taking on board. Chastened, you carry out edits. Months pass. You – if you’re very lucky – are asked to brainstorm cover design with the art department. If you’re not very lucky, your ideas are totally ignored. And. Then. Nada. For months.
Well, this hasn’t been my experience to date with US publisher Midnight Ink. Sure, the lead-time has been long, (which suits me because I’m switching from the spy genre with male main protagonist to psychological thriller with female lead) but some months ago I worked my way through edits with very little effort and no sound and fury. A couple of months later, I spent a memorable evening with emails flying across the Atlantic discussing the cover. The finished design (sorry, folks, sworn to secrecy) is spot-on and all I could have wished for. A huge confidence booster, it kept me sweet for the inevitable ‘news blackout’ that descended. What I didn’t expect was a comprehensive fourteen-page publicity sheet from the publicity and marketing department, which popped into my inbox last week. How I wished I’d received something like this prior to being first published in 2007.
No nonsense, clearly written, it explained precisely what would be done for the author and what, in return, the author would do (or not) for the publisher. Any questions that might have popped into my brain on reading were answered lines later in a peculiarly intuitive way. It felt entirely collaborative and the best bit for me was that this this was just the general sheet sent out to all ‘Winter Inkers’, the detailed stuff for my novel, ‘Beautiful Losers’ to be sent at a later date.
I could come out with a ton of clichés about being on the same page, and singing from the same hymn sheet, and rattle on about the confidence this inspires. The truth is that in a hugely competitive market there is nothing like having a committed publisher on your side. It’s been a whole new ‘baseball’ game and a damn fine week.