How I got published Part 1.
As an author, it's often one of the first things I'm asked. Most people realise it's difficult to get work noticed by traditional publishers, and they're interested in finding out your route. I'm pleased to say mine was a tad unusual. If you're a writer hoping to follow my route, I'm afraid it isn't possible to recreate it now. Although there may be a slightly different way you could take...
I started writing my book after being made redundant. I gave the first few chapters to friends who said they enjoyed it. But that's hardly a critical review. I remembered a conference I'd been to with work. It was about digital communications and one of the speakers had been from Harper Collins. She'd talked about a website they were setting up where writers reviewed each other's work: Authonomy.
I looked it up and thought it was worth a punt. Posting the first 5 chapters of my book, I sat back and waited for reviews. The writers liked it. But a lot of them seemed generally very kind and supportive, so I found some of the toughest reviewers, the ones who didn't hold their punches. They liked it too. I began chatting with writers who rated my work and online friendships were made. One writer put me in touch with her agent. I sent my work to her and she suggested meeting up.
'I'm nearly there,' I thought. Not quiet. I met the agent and she said she liked what I'd written so far. 'Finish it,' she said. 'Ah,' I thought.
The trouble was, I was no longer unemployed. So, I wrote in the evenings and at the weekends. Occasionally, I went to a coffee shop a la JK, but mainly I sat in bed, curled up in a duvet refusing to put the heating on. As I wrote, I'd send chunks of the novel to the agent. Yes, she'd say, keep going.
And finally, I finished it. I sent off the last chapters and waited to hear back from the agent.
Waited some more.
Then I heard from her.
It was a no.