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from manuscript to book...... so far 

 November 2015

In August I contacted Finch for a submission. The editor encouraged me to enter the manuscript for the Finch Memoir Prize 2016. I've never submitted my writing to a competition before, enough reason to try it now with Hotel Lionheart. I've just heard back from Finch. This is the kind of rejection I don't mind at all.

Dear Hans,


 
Thanks once again for entering the 2016 Finch memoir Prize. We have been informed of the finalists today and while unfortunately you are not the winner, I am very happy to tell you that your manuscript, Hotel Lionheart, was in the final six selected by the judges.

 
Congratulations on this achievement and I do wish you all the very best with your writing. I enjoyed reading your story very much.

 
Many thanks
Samantha
 
Samantha Miles
Publishing Manager
 

October 2015

looking ahead

Our limited edition is slowly dwindling ... time to start looking ahead. Two parties showed some interest in my story, too early to croak about it just yet.

From the very start I wanted the cover of my book to illustrate a scene in the stage play we put on. As I mentioned elsewhere, I would have written the entire book just to get that scene in. I found a stock picture that is the match I hoped for. It might seem odd if you don't read the book but to me it makes perfect sense.  I never thought for a minute that a picture of the old hotel would make a commercial book cover, I just wanted it on the limited edition for my family and friends. That said,  writers hardly ever come up with covers or book titles publishers want to use.... marketing is a different ball game. However, I do like to play with some ideas and here is the one I would choose.....

July 2015

Taking control.

Last month I put the unfinished Lionheart story with about one hundred typos as an ebook on Kindle to test the market. It received some great reviews but an ebook is not my idea of reading. I like my books made from trees. I killed the Kindle version earlier this month.

Instead, Janine and I decided to publish a limited first edition of one hundred copies ourselves - without an ISBN and available only through crowpublishing.com. I'm happy to report that we managed to stay well clear of Amazon  - these copies are printed in Australia.

 

I'll continue my search for an agent and ultimately a publisher but it feels a lot better going down that dark and narrow alley with a book that actually finds readers. Finding a publisher all of sudden doesn't seem all that urgent any more.

more to come.....

 

        March, April, May, June 2015

Looking for an agent or a publisher

None of the literary agents I wrote to so far wanted to know me. At least half of them answered. I think that's a definite plus. Some of them seem to have manners. Mind you, one of them answered my enquiry about representing me if I already had a contract:  'Sometimes we do take on authors who already have a contract, if we feel that the manuscript is a good fit for the agency".  Think about that for a bit.... ! Royalties less fitting ....  breathtakingly  amazing! 

Meanwhile, never fear, there is always the direct approach to publishers. Right?

Submitting a manuscript is really not the fun I thought it might be, now that I find myself on the bottom of the slush pile once more. In fact, after four short months and a few submissions to publishers I'm ready to quit.

I get the feeling this submission business is a bit like waiting for the first date. You'll have to make it happen yourself or you won't ever be kissed. Not by this lot, anyway. These are the  gorgeous cheerleaders, so to speak. Sorry guys, but I think we're outnumbered in this game.

 Editors and related literary glamouristas in workshops and self-help writing groups are a cliquey lot who like to know each other.  To break into that circle - without an agent who thrives on this stuff - might seem like a good idea for newcomers but it really leads to nowhere. I know because I've been there - and I mean everywhere! I have done my rounds of talks, interviews, public readings, school readings and workshops. Even all this time later my head is still spinning from all the talking about writing! Somebody must have gotten something out of it but it was not me.

There is little money in publishing - hence there is little money in writing. I quite liked all the publishers I worked with - so I mean this in the nicest possible way: publishers are businesses fighting for survival on small margins. The more they screw you, the better their chance of survival.  No matter how much hard work you put in to promote your book, they will drop you like the proverbial spud if the going gets tough. 

My last publisher hit the wall and didn't even tell me. I found out when my former publisher informed me that he had just bought what was left. I think I was working on my 12th book and I had a contract for three more. I guess I could have gone to court but I had changed continents and careers and I had no agent so that was the end of writing for me. I never saw any sales records for my last three books, never received any royalties apart from a $ 2,000 advance. My combined sales for all my books with all translations would have been well over 200,000

 I made around 25 cents per copy.

I have heard of writers who make more - haven't we all - but I actually know a lot more who will tell you the same story. Writing as a full time job is way out of reach for most authors. I know that there are writers who love to live on the edge on 25cents per copy.  I grudgingly accepted the fact that with a family of five I could not go on writing fulltime. Anyway, thirty years later, my personal lesson from my first attempt as a writer is simple: this time around, FIND AN AGENT!

Publishing is not the smell of newsprint, cups of latte and freshly baked cakes by the log fire. It's a shark tank were old hands with big pens circle the new blood. And the very worst of the sediments on the bottom of the tank are the folks who will lecture you on how to become a writer! It's like those investment guys who tell you how to make millions - just like they did right before they turned into pathetic salesmen who try to hustle another dime out of some hopeful would be investor.  Even the big publishing houses have followed the trend - right next to your submission guidelines you'll find the very self-help book you need to write your next bestseller and get it published.

I don't know, somehow the fun has gone out of the whole process  of looking for a publisher. Once upon a time you could write your story with lipstick on a paper napkin and the editor would add the red ink - now you enter your manuscript in the world's toughest spelling bee and everybody expects you to be perfect. Ah yes, and somebody is sure to tell you that you have to write the first chapter so well that even a blind man/woman will fall for it just by taking a whiff ... !  Tell that to some of the old dudes who took five chapters just to let you know in what town you were in!

to be continued......