13th January, 13:00
Hi guys and welcome to my second Behind The Scenes post; this week gives an insight as to how and why I got my publishing deal and factors in my decision to sign with The Burning Chair.
So, following on from where we left off: once I’d completed my manuscript to a decent level, I was then faced with the big question of what to do next. I mean, I’d put a lot of time and effort into this and it was definitely something I wanted to share. But how?
As any normal person would, I turned to Google. I researched and watched videos, read how-to’s and interviews and found that, logically, I had 2 options: work with a publisher, or self-publish. Self-publishing was quickly eliminated as an option for me personally. Not only did I have no money to put into it, I also had no idea where to even begin. I was (and am!) very new to this, and felt I needed all the support and guidance I could get.
So, that left me with just one simple to-do; land a publishing deal. Easy, right? Ha.
The first thing that quickly came to my attention was that a LOT of publishers do not accept unsolicited manuscripts, aka any work sent to them directly from the author. Instead, they want things sent to them via a literary agent. So my to-do list became a little longer, and step 1 became to find myself one of those.
And, to be honest, I went about it all wrong. So very wrong. Instead of taking my time, researching the agents and the work they liked, the genre of work I’d made, I leapt in with both feet and went on a querying rampage to anyone and everyone I came across. And, after four or five rejections, I was feeling pretty crappy. What did they mean this book wasn’t for them? Could they not take 10 minutes to give me any feedback? Point me in the direction of someone who might actually like my writing?
I was naive, yes, and annoyed too. No one seemed to believe in my work. No one seemed to even want to read the whole thing. Maybe it was rubbish, then. Maybe the whole ‘let’s send it off to agents’ was a stupid idea.
I had a week or so of doubting myself, regretting every stupid, sloppy email I’d sent. And I’m sure every writer experiences this; anyone with a dream, in fact. You get knocked down time after time, I’ve learnt, by people who don’t believe in or like your work. But, upon reflection, I began to see this as a good thing. So, the agents didn’t want me. And if they didn’t want me, then I didn’t want them. It wasn’t meant to be.
I realised, finally, that I needed to narrow things down and spend some time looking into who to send my book to and why. I found a lot of interesting articles on why smaller publishers were the way forward; skip the agents step, they suggested, and go straight to the source. You’ll get looked after there, people will care about you and your opinions rather than when you can land them their next cheque. So, that’s what I did. I researched some smaller UK-based publishing companies, narrowing and narrowing my search until eventually I found The Burning Chair. Straight away, they looked different to any other publishing website I’d been on. Their ethos alone got me hooked; ‘a fair deal for our authors, great books for our readers.’
I asked my OU Write Club group if anyone had heard of them before, and checked their credibility before sending my work off; they were relatively new then, and I wanted to make sure they were legit. Within a few weeks of submitting, I’d got a response. They were interested! Better than that, they loved the book. I was over the moon. Finally, someone who believed in ‘Beyond’.
After an initial phone call, I met Pete and Simon from The Burning Chair for a coffee. We had a good chinwag before getting to the nitty-gritty of what they could offer me, and the whole process of publication, which I found so helpful. As I said, I’m a first-time author and had no idea about how exactly a book is put on a shelf!
Following our meeting, we mutually agreed on a contract. And, to be honest, there is nothing I can fault the guys at Burning Chair for. They were open and honest, the contract is extremely fair for both parties, and they are just genuinely nice guys to work with. The day I signed on the dotted line felt slightly surreal; my dream was finally coming true.
And what came after the deal? What about all the edits and the marketing etc etc? Find out in next week’s Behind The Scenes blog!
If you like the sound of working with a fair indie publisher that cares about you and your work, you can find The Burning Chair’s submission page here.