Realising a dream can be a surprisingly scary thing. I’ve been writing for 20 years off and on, always thinking that maybe this time I’ve got it right. And always finding out that actually I hadn’t. Not quite, not this time, not now.
Until now. I have to admit I didn’t try very hard to get a literary agent. Maybe I should have tried harder, I don’t know. My first novel got all the way to a full manuscript review with one of the biggest genre agents in New York, but in the end she passed on it. Very nicely, with some personal feedback, but she passed all the same. I couldn’t get another agent to even read it. I guess I suck at writing queries. Either way, by this time I’d committed possibly the dumbest newbie author mistake in the book and written the rest of the trilogy. So I didn’t just have one dead book, I had three.
I was writing something else by then, a short story for an anthology a friend of mine was editing. That short story was quite well received and made it into the book. It didn’t pay, but it was nice to get it out there. Then I sat and looked at my three dead books, and I looked at my short story, and I thought “one of these things is better than the other three”.
That short story eventually turned into Drake, and I submitted it to Angry Robot in their 2013 Open Door period. Oh boy, real publishing moves at a speed that makes tectonic plate movement give you whiplash. I got a request for a full in November 2014.
Elated, I fired off the full and enjoyed Christmas. I was chuffed, obviously, but I’d been chuffed when that New York agent requested a full too. Once bitten, and all that.
Then in late January the bomb went off – they wanted it! I did the happy dance for a few days, waiting for my contract to come through. If you’ve never seen one, publishing contracts are written in dense legalese that isn’t intended for the eyes of mere mortals like me. Luckily someone I greatly respect on Absolute Write had already advised me to join the Society of Authors, and to their enormous credit my publisher-to-be also recommended I do the same thing before signing.
Trust me, if you’re in the process of getting published and don’t have an agent (or maybe even if you have) this is the best £95 you will ever spend. I signed up with the SoA and fired off the contract to them for review and two days later they came back with a detailed, professional, and above all else understandable interpretation of the contract with advice on what questions to ask and which clauses to negotiate. Seriously, I’d have been lost without them.
So now I have a signed contract, and people are emailing me with pre-publicity questionnaires for press releases and arranging conference calls with people in the USA and… well it’s awesome, but it’s surprisingly like my day job, which also involves a lot of paperwork and conference calls with the States.
So, yeah. I’m over the moon, and also a little bit scared because I’ve just realised I’ve effectively taken on a second job. But you know what? I’m doing this one for the love of it.