When this is the first word of a report on your novel by an independent editor then the confidence in your ability to pull off writing a book soars a bit. I admit to allowing myself to fluff up my feathers for a moment or two before getting into the meat of the edits. Your friends and family will always tell you that your writing is good (they’d better do) so for me, to hear it from someone who knew what they were talking about (no offence friends and family) was a real vindication of my dedication and graft to getting the thing finished
And that was what drove me to go ahead and pay for an editor to give me some constructive feedback on my draft. After months stumbling around on my own, chewing this thing over, wondering if I could actually pull it off and get a slip of an idea from my head and nurture and bully it into a book I just wanted to know if it stood a chance. That if it delivered a growing pile of polite rejections it wasn’t because I was a hopeless writer.
So I chose The Literary Consultancy for my edit and they recommended Angela Clarke, an ex-journalist like me. Reading her interpretation of my book made my heart flutter – that was exactly what I had hoped a reader would get from it. It wasn’t all good news. The first few chapters were over written and my good bits of writing were being strangled by too many adjectives. A couple of the key characters could do with some extra scenes to really reinforce their relationships with the others. Interestingly, they were all things I knew in my heart, they were not a surprise. Probably things nagging in the back of my head that I just didn’t want/know how to focus on. Either way the amendments she suggested to make the novel even better were all spot on and just made me more excited. It was expensive but Angela’s comments were mainly around the first few chapters of the book and as these are the ones always read by those wading through the slush pile, I feel it was a really sound investment.
However, excited or not, as a writer with a proper job, I have to wait until I can book a day’s annual leave to get those edits started.
Or How to Be Happy for Succesful Authors When You’re Not One
‘Debut Author Tops Best Seller List’
‘Stunning Debut in TV and Movie Rights Deal’
‘Debut Author Scoops Top Prize’
‘Debut Author Cures Cancer and Brokers World Peace’
It is nigh on impossible for a debut author with no connections to get their book published I am told whenever I mention to anyone with even a passing glance to the publishing world that I have written a book. Yet every week the review sections of the papers seem to be stuffed full of those lucky, lucky writers who have found the magic key. Who have written a book so amazing that it appears to have have burst from the slush pile in a fanfare of trumpets and bunting so brilliant is it.
Like poking a bruise I am compelled to visit their websites and read their blog pages. Words like ‘thrilled’, ‘amazing’, ‘living my dream’ dance around on the page to taunt me (note to self: when the happy day finally arrives for me, find more interesting words to use to convey your delight). They have new pages on their website devoted to all the places where they have been invited to speak, giving talks, telling people all about their amazing book: New York, Germany, Colchester Library. Their lives have been transformed into a whirlwind of writing and promoting their writing. They’ll never have to work again.
So my challenge here is to be delighted and thrilled for them too. Surely sales in the millions for one debut author should give publishers the confidence to take a punt on another one? But it is a struggle. I can’t help myself. I want to pick their books apart and find the flaws. Stare at their photos and wonder why they didn’t wax their top lips before the shoot. Snort at their blogs for being boring to read. Anything that will make me feel more deserving and therefore more hard done by. Isn’t that terrible? I must be a horrible person. No one likes someone steaming with envy, and that’s all it is sadly.
So I am making it my New Blog Resolution to not be so jealous. Most of these debut novels are amazing. They have tackled new themes and approached different subjects. written from different point of view, or structured their plots in unconventional ways. And I am sure most of them are just like me. Desperate for a shot. Who truly are amazed and thrilled to be handed the golden ticket. I am trying my best to be gracious not envious. To fervently believe that succesful debut authors are blazing a trail for the team rather than striking out on their own. Good luck!