Way back when I started to take my writing seriously – I mean WAY, WAY back, the first thing I bought every autumn was the Writers’ & Artists’ Year Book. I remember the first year eagerly sending my three chapters off to various agents for them either to be returned or never heard about again. The next year, I tried again, but nothing. For a few years as I tried to find an agent to represent me, I would buy a new version every time it came out, looking to see if there were any new agents that I could try. I had masses of rejections slips from agents (which I now wished I had kept all of – I still have 48 in an envelope), some whom I know in person now. Indeed, I landed my first agent in 2004, contacting her through the address in the year book.
After A LOT of rejection, I decided to self-publish my debut novel, Taunting the Dead, and thankfully it sold really well. Since then, I’ve self-published three books in The Estate Series and, at the moment, I’m doing structural edits on the next one, Written in the Scars. I’m also now published by Thomas & Mercer who re-published Taunting the Dead, along with Watching over You, a standalone psychological thriller (which is on offer for £1 in the Kindle UK store right now) and more recently, I’ve made Taunting the Dead into a series with two more books out, Follow the Leader and Only the Brave. I’m also working on something else…
In November 2013, I was invited to take part in a self-publishing conference run by Bloomsbury Books, the publishers of the year book. I headed off to London to speak with Amazon’s Jon Fines and had a great day meeting writers who were coming to me asking for advice. It was such an honour to do this. Telling writers to #keeponkeeping on is always my best advice, too.
This year’s year book, Writers’ & Artists’ 2016, is published today. So imagine now, as I hold a copy of it and it has one of my articles in it. The article is called Being a Self-Published Author. My agent, Madeleine Milburn, has an article in there too – Getting hooked out of the slush pile (which she is very good at doing!)
There are 800 pages jammed packed with advice. And what I do like is there is advice on everything. I’m often asked by writers ‘should I self-publish, or should I get an agent.’ This book marks out for me that a writer now has lots of options. When I first started self-publishing at the end of 2011, it was very much frowned upon. Now it’s become a valid choice for lots of writers too. There is no one-way-fits-all anymore.
Writers out there, you have choices that I didn’t have a decade ago. If you want to self-publish, go for it, but learn how to do it properly. If you want to go for an agent, or even go straight to a publisher in some instances, go for it, but get the pitch right, send what people request, do your research and you’re way ahead of a lot of people who don’t. Being professional is so important.
I was contacted by Bloomsbury Books to take part in their #IStartedHere Twitter campaign when the Writers’ & Artists’ year book 2016 is published. Well, today is the day, and I am so proud to have my name on the back cover and to be included inside its pages.