Last time, I was bewailing my lack of progress in getting my Roman mystery novel The Governor’s Man noticed by anyone with publishing intentions.
Today I feel like Alice down the rabbit hole. Everything Has Changed. In less than two weeks from first query, I have signed a contract with Sharpe Books to publish a series of three books. Governor’s Man #1 will hopefully launch in mid-May, with the second of the series to follow sometime in the autumn.
People, mainly my darling husband (and VIP First Reader) keep asking how I feel. I don’t know how I feel, is the answer. After keeping faith with this story since its baby steps as a short story in 2015, it feels a bit like waving a beloved child off to university. As for the second book — well, that raucous adolescent had better start picking up its clothes and tidying its room, or someone’s going to get sick of the soggy middle anytime soon. And then there’ll be tears before bedtime.
So you’ll have gathered I am in a state of shock. Right now, apart from once more thanking wonderful independent editor, Gemma Taylor, who got me to where I am today, all I can say is that luck has played a huge part. My story apparently arrived on the publisher’s metaphorical doormat in the right genre and period, and they decided to read it.
That’s what I takes, I suppose. Write a story you’re utterly in love with — can’t NOT write. If you’re not in love with your story, it will show. Then re-write and re-write. Send it off to beta readers, making sure at least one doesn’t even like your genre. (If you can find a beta reader that generous with their time!) Commission a professional trained editor. And then, when it’s polished to a high sheen, send the script out, over and over. But do your homework first – make sure you’ve a chance of falling in through an open door. Are they the right agent/publisher for your genre? Who else do they represent/publish? How many words do they want? Would you be in direct competition with someone already represented? Or do they obviously specialise in your sort of writing? Are they actually open to submissions right now?
Is your book even likely to be sold? I read recently that romance takes over 40% of the commercial market, assorted varieties of crime nearly as much. While SF, horror and fantasy combined get less than 5% (no wonder that terrific SF novella I keep sending out into the ether has had no takers. Yet.)
So I guess I just got lucky. But don’t tell my VIP First Reader that. He’s promised to take me out to dinner to celebrate, as soon as we’re second jabbers, and it’s warm enough to sit outside. And he can get a booking. Looking forward to that date, sometime in 2024.