Lucy Lawrie's book, Tiny Acts of Love, is published today by Black & White Publishing, so we thought it would be the perfect time for Lucy to share her book deal moment with Novelicious readers.
1. It was my first novel and first novels almost never make it.
2. It was too chick litty. (Chick lit is dead.)
3. It wasn’t chick litty enough. (Serious women’s fiction doesn’t sell.)
4. It wasn’t high concept enough either. You can forget about being published unless you can encapsulate your entire story in twelve words.
5. It contained adverbs, exclamation marks and the word ‘was’. I’d never realised you were supposed to comb these horrors out of your prose like pesky nits.
6. You need at least 163,971 Twitter followers before a publisher will look at your submission.
7. Traditional publishing is dead.
8. Actually, books are dead too.
It was about as cheerful as walking through a cemetery. However, I wasn’t prepared to give up on my novel so I kept walking and two things happened.
First, I started working with some talented and insightful critiquing partners I met on an online writers’ forum. My novel was indeed ‘first bookish’ to begin with, but over several drafts they helped me to get it to where it needed to be.
Then I teamed up with Joanna Swainson, my wonderful agent, who liked Tiny Acts of Love and was prepared to take a risk on it, even though very few publishers were acquiring that sort of women’s fiction at the time. We edited it again, submitted it and waited.
When Joanna phoned me one evening, just over a year ago, I’d almost given up hope. We’d had some publisher rejections which, while encouraging, seemed to be pointing me back to that dead book graveyard. We were still to hear the verdict of Black & White Publishing and I was longing for them to say yes – because of their reputation as one of the most dynamic independent publishers, because they were based in Edinburgh (like me, and the book), and because I’d met Janne, their Rights Manager, and warmed to her immediately. When Joanna said the ‘yes’ word, my legs actually gave way – as though the world had shifted under my feet.
In a way, it had. Those big dark Reasons-Why-Not blocking me from everything I’d hoped and dreamed for had crumbled away. Black & White, with their characteristic verve and spirit, didn’t seem to care about any of them. They liked the book and they thought other people would too so they decided to publish it. It really was as simple – and as utterly amazing – as that.