UP AND DOWNS (BUT MAINLY UPS)
A year ago, I was dancing on air.
I’d recently landed my dream agent and within about a month of signing me, she’d negotiated a three-book deal for my Gangster School series with fabulous German Publisher, Piper Verlag. I couldn’t have been happier. Or more excited, especially when the design for the cover of Gangster School 1 came in. It was fab! Bright and bold and funny. I recognised Milly, my protagonist, immediately – she was just as I imagined.
It would only be a matter of time, I thought, before a UK deal followed.
And that was when things started to go wrong.
My agent moved on to pastures new and asked me to go with her, but it wasn’t the right time, I decided. I stayed put and soon the rejections from UK publishers started to arrive. My agency took on a replacement for my agent. I could tell that Gangster School wasn’t quite her thing, but she did her best for me. I rewrote it to her liking. We resubmitted to UK publishers. Some expressed interest, but one by one they started to drop out.
I sent my new agent my idea for a different kind of book. She didn’t like it and with no UK deal in place and only a few UK publishers left to reply, we decided that it was time to go our separate ways.
Was I gutted? You bet! We spend so much energy trying to get an agent and here I was, less than a year later, about to be agentless again. I had a good weep and then sat down to work out what to do next.
I’d been a member of LinkedIn for quite some time, but I’d never really used it. I began looking through my contacts and to actively seek others in the writing and publishing industry. What I didn’t do was pounce on them, begging them to espouse me or represent me or publish me. What I did do was keep expanding my network and engaging with posts that caught my eye.
One of my new contacts sounded very interesting. A successful business lady with a proven track record and a love of literature. She was setting up her own publishing house. I checked out her website. It sounded good and she was seeking submissions. I contacted her via LinkedIn, expressing an interest in submitting. She replied almost immediately, inviting me to do so.
I did and – she loved my submission! Two months later, I’ve just signed a contract with her for the English language rights to FOUR Gangster School books. The first one is due to appear next June, swiftly followed by one in September. She shares my vision for Gangster School and she absolutely gets it. I’m back on my little cloud, which is sparklier than ever because the first book is doing well in Germany and the second in the series is due out there next March.
What’s the moral to this story?
Well, I suppose it’s that there are more ways of getting published – traditionally published – than the accepted route of agent to publisher. Use your contacts, but use them intelligently and sparingly. Be polite. Be imaginative. Be patient.