Getting your dream into print
By Anne Jones
firstwriter.com – Tuesday April 27, 2010
She’s one of Britain’s best-selling authors and a respected complimentary healer, but Anne Jones’ journey into the literary world has not been easy. In the first of a series of articles, she reveals the trials of tribulations of becoming an author – and getting your work into print.
The most exciting moment of my life, well at least my life as an author, was walking into the bookstore and seeing the picture of me (not too bad a one for a change) with the title of my latest book and “Author of the Month” blazing above my head. How wonderful, at last my dream comes true. Below the poster was a table, just as in my dream, piled high with copies of my books. I allowed myself a little snuffle of emotion and took a photo to capture the moment.
My journey to reach that point had been challenging, rich and interesting. Intertwined with my development as an author there have been a number of extraordinary experiences as a spiritual healer, which led me to give workshops, to travel the world, to meet hundreds of people with interesting problems which fed the content of my books. Very neat. My own personal “awakening” occurred fifteen years ago in Malaysia where my husband had been posted and I lived the privileged life of an ex-pat wife. I had a gardener, cook, cleaner and driver leaving me free to develop some latent talents and unfulfilled dreams.
Up to that point my life had been a crush of computer sales, teaching, small business development, housekeeper and surrogate mother for two teenagers and wife. Not unusual for a would-be superwomen of Maggie Thatcher’s Britain. So to have unlimited time to do my own thing was a luxury. WASP work ethics can never be denied so I spent my days developing and editing the Expat Magazine, fundraising, running PC workshops and oil painting. For balance I played at organising dinners, games evenings and parties. What a life! I then had an extraordinary experience, definitely life changing. I was relaxing on my bed one afternoon when I heard a voice, loud and clear, telling me to start healing. I sat up in shock and replied “how?” I was told to speak to Sal, “Miss Piggie” the restaurant reviewer of our magazine. I saw her the next day and she handed me a pile of books by Betty Shine a well-known medium and healer and I was off and away.
Over the next few months I discovered an entirely new dimension of life as I practised my new art on friends and family and as my understanding grew I began to teach and share many of my amazing experiences. I became totally engrossed in my new work and gave up all other pastimes. I had a number of visions and dreams around that time and one night I dreamt I was in a bookshop standing before a huge pile of books – all mine! The next morning I woke up passionate to write my first book.
I didn’t have a clue how to take my dream into a reality, so discussed my plans with anyone who had experience of publishing and gathered some useful advice. I discovered there are a number of steps to follow, these are:
- Produce a synopsis, with an overview of each chapter, including anecdotes or case studies or, if a novel, the characters, their back story, and the plot.
- Write the first chapter or two. This will give agents and publishers an idea of your writing style.
- Give details of:
- your market, for me this has been Mind Body and Spirit and Self Development;
- the number of words you estimate to write, MBS market is about 60,000, for a novel more likely 80,000 plus;
- your deadline for finishing your first draft;
- the selling points or plot overview; over 50 per cent of bookstore browsers choose a book from the plot synopsis.
- Send the above to a number of agents. You will find plenty on the internet but choose those that deal with your type of book. These days publishers won’t accept anything that is not via an agent.
- When you find an agent you will need to sign a contract which will detail the agent’s commission, this is likely to be about 12% plus VAT. For this they will find you a publisher and organise a favourable contract on your behalf and collect your royalties, which normally are paid half-yearly.
- Next you sign a contract with the publisher. My publisher has been Piatkus, a division of Hatchett’s Book Group and they have always given me an advance, not mega but then I am not a celebrity! They guide me and edit my books, proof read and do all design and layout. They also correct punctuation etc. for me, thank heavens. I just have to write the book on time and make the changes that they suggest. Once the book is complete, normally a nine month process, they will distribute the book in UK and any overseas markets where English is read. They will also organise overseas rights, selling to publishers in other countries.
The toughest call for an author is the discipline of writing. There are thousands of half written novels waiting for the energy and determination to be finished. Once I have a deadline agreed with my publisher I mark out weeks in my diary that I keep exclusively for writing, I then set myself up somewhere without a phone and work to a schedule. I determine how many words I will write each day and I don’t start to play until they are written. It can feel like a long haul but just when you think you will never reach the end it’s upon you and with great exhilaration you send it off to your agent or publisher. Champagne time!
All that done, you then sit back and are amazed that you are not famous in a month! Well maybe you will be but this is a hard business and most books sell fewer than 1,000 copies. Sales of 5,000 copies of a novel or 7,500 of a non-fiction would classify as a success. So you can see it is quite difficult to make a fortune from writing. Of course, the joy of seeing your dream in print is worth thousands!
Just remember, however, tough it gets and however many obstacles, rewrites and delays you meet on the way, don’t ever forget your dream, keep bringing it back to mind and stick with it. The result will, without doubt, be worth it no matter how many you sell or give away.
About the Author
Anne Jones is the author of five bestselling books including Heal Yourself, Healing Negative Energies, The Ripple Effect, Opening Your Heart, and The Soul Connection. For more information about Anne and her titles, go to www.annejones.org