This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
It was summer 2006 and I was Deputy Editor at heat magazine. Those were the halcyon days of celebrity journalism and heat was the riding the crest, but I remember as the months and then years went by, I started to crave something more. My idea for the Churchminster series was born out of a conversation with my agent. I had approached her with a couple of half-baked ideas, none of which were really working. So when she told me bonkbusters were back in fashion and how did I feel about trying my hand at one of those, I jumped at the idea. I had grown up on Jilly Cooper and came from a little village in rural Bedfordshire. As if the idea had always been there simmering in my self-conscious, I wrote the plot for Country Pursuits in a night and started from there.
For six months I worked at heat during the day and wrote every evening and weekends. My friends complained they never saw me, but I couldn’t get the words down fast enough. I thought it was good, my agent thought it was good and I thought everyone else would agree. When we finally sent it off to ten different publishing houses, I sat back and waited for the offers to come rolling in.
The first rejection was the most crushing. Not for me I’m afraid. The book I had sweated blood and tears over and poured my heart and soul into, dismissed in a sentence by email. Others were more encouraging; they already had similar authors, it wasn’t quite their bag but keep trying etc. One editor never got back to us.
The hour before I got my book deal I had been on the phone to my agent in utter despair. ‘Don’t worry,’ she said, ‘We’ll keep trying.’ But by then I had given up hope. Later on I was at my desk about to edit yet another interview with a Big Brother star when an email popped up from her in my inbox.
‘Am about to send you something,’ she said. ‘Don’t scream in the office!’ It was immediately followed by an email from Transworld Publishers offering. Words floated across the screen. Wonderful… funny… we’d like to offer you… I remember rereading in absolute disbelief and then the rooftops of London literally lifted around me. I ran (silently) screaming into the back office to call her. To have someone finally validate all those months of hard work and share your vision, was the most wonderful feeling.
I have now written six books with Transworld, and a major production company has bought up the rights to develop the Churchminster tales into a TV series. To all you unpublished authors out there my advice is don’t give up, because all you need is one ‘yes’ to make your dream come true. And as they say when it comes to book offers (well I do anyway) it’s the quality, not quantity….
Jo’s new novel Party Games is out now!