My Journey to Publication

By popular request, I come to you today to share my journey to publication. But I have to forewarn you; it’s different to most authors’ stories.

In a traditional publishing setting, a first-time author would write a book to the point that they view it as complete. Then they would send out queries to agents, who would request to see the manuscript before choosing whether to sign the author or not. If they did choose to work together, they would collaborate on edits before the agent would pitch the book to publishers. A publisher would then offer an advance to the author and begin more edits, cover design, and marketing and publicity plans. The royalties would not start to come in until the advance was exceeded. The agent would take a small cut of everything. The publisher and the agent would work together to try to get the book published in additional languages and territories.

In the world of digital-first publishing like the list publishing my novel, you simply skip the agent and the advance. Instead, submissions are sent directly to the publishers, and royalty rates are higher to account for the lack of advance.

I used to work at One More Chapter, the digital-first list of HarperCollins UK, when it was still HarperImpulse. Part of my job was to search through the submissions inbox for books worthy of publication. Impulse still had agents who would pitch titles, so the submissions inbox was even more competitive. That’s where I found the first book I edited, The Honey Trap, which was the first of many novels for Mary Jayne Baker.

At the time when I was working there, my boss and friend (and now editor) Charlotte helped review some of my dissertation work for my Creative Writing MA. She liked my writing, and when I told her about my WIPs she was always very interested. Then one day after I left HarperCollins she rang me and asked if I would write her a novel based in Santorini. She probably meant it slightly as a joke or a throwaway idea, but I latched onto it and gave it my all. I didn’t have an agent. I didn’t have to submit. I just came to her over a year later with a finished manuscript, and we took it from there.

My journey isn’t typical, and I’m the first to admit that it’s a result of my history and connections. But I’m so grateful to Charlotte for asking me to write this novel over the other brilliant authors on the list, and I’m not one to waste an opportunity. Now I have a novel being published in just two days, and I couldn’t be more excited! You can preorder your copy for 99p in the UK here or for $2.99 in the US here.

And if you’re an aspiring author struggling with the process, don’t get discouraged. The fact that you completed a novel is such an accomplishment. And from the girl who used to cry when she had to send form rejections because she knew how hard people had worked, please know that your work is seen and appreciated. You’re an absolute superstar, and your time will come. Just keep putting yourself out there and remember why you started.