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Tuesday, 22 May 2012

History of a book.


They say that everyone has a book in them (whoever "they" are). The problem is getting the darned thing out and then getting it in front of a reading public.
It's also true (apparently, because someone must have counted them) that for every book that gets published over 1,500 books are written. Presumably the other 1,499 are rejected by publishers, rejected by agents, or the writer gives up before getting into the rat-race of publishing where the realities of Life take over. For years I was that man!
Anybody who read yesterday's blog posts will now know the history behind the story of Leap of Faith, the first in the Temporal Detective Agency series, but poor old Tertia and Unita, not to mention Marlene (Merlin's younger sister with the flame orange hair) nearly didn't have a life beyond my imagination and 5 nights on a stage.
Some writers start with a rough premise , then go straight to the ending and work backwards, on the basis that the end is the most important part of a book and knowing how everything finishes is more important than knowing where it starts. Others proudly say they have no idea what happens until they actually write it.and that their characters take them on the ride and dictate their own future. Perhaps both are right and maybe a superbly crafted character in a series of books (Terry Pratchett's Discworld  for example) has enough biography and background that their persona will function of their own accord.
I wrote the first few chapters of what became Leap of Faith with 2D characters from a stage show who could sing and dance a little (like Fred Astaire) but beyond the show story, I had no idea what happened next. Actually, what happened next was that I contracted with a UK agent.....one of the hardest things to do and at the time I didn't realise how lucky I was. I had visions of multiple book deals with large advances and all this to happen within a month or two. Needless to say things didn't pan out that way. I finished the book (the lady agent had signed me on the basis of what had already been completed) and then we started the painful process of rewriting, editing, deleting, shouting (mentally), until what we had left looked something  like a Temporal Detective Agency novel, except it was far too long for a YA novel and leaped around like a kangaroo on a pogo stick! Back to rewriting etc! This time whole chapters were deleted (some were my beloved babies!). After five years (!) my agent couldn't take me any further towards publication and we severed our agent / client agreement, though we still remain friend and the rules about writing I learned from her are too many to mention.
I'll mention one...GOWTS. It stands for Get On With The Story and is probably the most important rule an author can adhere to. I keep GOWTS on a Stick-It note on the top of my computer screen.
I kept writing nd homing Leap of Faith and sent it to two editing agencies who were very encouraging and made several constructive comments, but if the book was ever to be published then it would be hard graft and not luck that would get it there.
A very small e-publisher in New Zealand agreed to convert Leap of Faith into an e-format  and publish it on his own site. Hardly an Amazon, or Barnes & Noble, but it still meant it had a potential audience. I also got to know a wonderful lady called Tracey Tucker who designed a cover for me, as well as my website and blogsite. Sales were slow and meager to say the least, then a friend of mine suggested trying to work with an American agent and sell in the States. I talked to load and eventually started a dialogue with Calen Mason, the CEO of Publerati Publishing, a relatively new venture for Caleb who had been in the publishing industry at the highest level for years.
We got on...and that's an absolute must for any relationship...and after reading Leap of Faith and making some suggestions that I was more than happy with, Caleb agreed to take me under contract as my e-book publisher and traditional industry agent. Since then Tracey Tucker has revamped the cover of Leap of Faith and has joined Publerati as illustrator to give the company a uniform and recognisable brand.

They say that everyone has a book in them...and what does it take to get to market? Luck...lots of it and plenty of perseverance. They (the wonderful "they" again) say that if J K Rawling released a book with 500 blank pages called Harry Potter and the Secret Codes it would still sell 20,000,000 copies, but her first book in many ways mirrored what happened to Leap of Faith. If I can only mirror a tenth of what happened to J K Rawling after that.........

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