Three books, two publishers, one year...
firstwriter.com – Tuesday July 31, 2012
In April 2011, Marion Grace Woolley found her first publisher through firstwriter.com's database of publishers. A year later, she has published three books with two different publishers, both from our listings.
Here, she talks a little about her success, and the advice she’d give to new authors.
fw: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us, Marion, and congratulations on your success! Who are your publishers, and what are the books?
The books are a bit of an eclectic mix. I have always enjoyed reading a broad range of stories, so I suppose it makes sense that, as a writer, I also like to explore different genres. I have been very lucky in finding publishers who have supported me in my endeavours.
The first novel to be published was Angorichina, which is historical fiction set in a tuberculosis clinic in 1930s South Australia. The second is Lucid, a dark, loosely sci-fi novel focusing on the relationship between shamanic entheogens, dreaming and drugs. Finally, there’s Georg[i]e, which is a transgender romance, recently described as "chick lit with balls".
Ango and Georg[i]e are with Green Sunset; Lucid with Netherworld.
fw: How did you go about approaching publishers?
I have been a member of firstwriter.com for a long time. Even before my books were finished I had half an eye on the listings. During periods of procrastination, I’d browse through and make my own list of "potentials". It wasn’t an exact science, more whether I liked the name of a company or not!
I don’t think many people are lucky enough to get accepted on their first submission. Even famous names report their fair share of knock-backs. It took me two months to get a "yes" on Ango, which is pretty good going.
I don’t really believe in making one submission at a time. I think that’s a bit unfair on authors, as some publishers take months to reply. One well-established agent never replied at all. Imagine if I had been waiting on them before making another submission.
I don’t think there’s any great mystery in approaching publishers. The golden rules are: follow the submission guidelines to the letter, proofread and spell-check your work.
Even if you do everything right, you’ll still get a few rejections, it’s just part of the game. You’re not a proper writer until you have enough to make a doorstop.
fw: What has been your most valuable lesson?
That there is a lot of mythology surrounding publishing.
When I set out, I think I thought what most people do: 1. All publishers have a printing machine out back; 2. Your book will be in every high street store and displayed on the side of busses; and 3. There will be a hefty advance.
The reality is: 1. Most independent press go through Lightning Source (Ingram Books), who have cornered the market in POD publishing – the only ink in their office comes with a "received" stamp; 2. Social networking aside, advertising is extremely expensive and most indie presses don’t have the budget to compete with over 100,000 new titles a year; and 3. There is generally no advance.
All of that can sort of burst your bubble if you let it. The important lesson is to hold on to why you write, and try not to get swept away in all this "writing is a business" lark. Yes, it can be a business, but I don’t think that’s why most of us picked up a pen in the first place.
fw: Any advice for aspiring authors?
Cultivate your own self-worth.
I don’t think there’s a lot of room in this business (there’s that word again!) for doubt. So many people will tell you that your work isn’t quite right, send you a rejection slip, offer to publish you "for a fee" – if you were to take all of that on board, even the Dalai Lama would feel depressed.
Literature is hugely subjective. There has never been a book written that everybody liked. So, accepting the fact that some people won’t appreciate what you’ve written, seek out the ones who do. It’s a sign of an ailing society that we can listen to praise and criticism in equal measures, yet place more weight on criticism.
I interviewed a friend a few years back over his decision to self-publish. Something he said stuck with me:
“I've never been much for assessing the market and so on. I generally create things that I want to exist, in the faith that no man is an island, and someone else will want them to exist too.”
I think that’s a mighty fine ethos.
fw: What have you got out at the moment?
I’ve just released my first collection of short stories as an e-book: Splintered Door.
As with my paperbacks, it’s a bit of a mixture of themes and styles. A good introduction if you’ve not read my work before. Sort of "dark fairytales for adults".
I’d like to offer 50% off for fwn readers until September 1, 2012. Head over to Smashwords and enter the code: ER47Q Even if you don’t have a Kindle or iBook, you can still download it as a PDF or read online.
I’m also appearing at booQfest in September. Sunday 16, Northampton Library from 2–3pm. Come and say hello.
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