by Anna Bell
Last week my column finished with me in a pit of despair, having tried and failed in my first attempt to get a new publishing contract. Whilst editors had liked my writing style, they’d hated my book ideas. Which led me to round two …
An editor suggested I write on a new topic, so I forgot about the trilogy of books I’d planned and got started on a brand new idea. Starting from scratch again was scary. The process began with a few different ideas and book pitches, and there was one that stood out as the favourite. I then went ahead and wrote a sample. I knew when I started writing that something had clicked. For me, the characters worked and the plot was engaging. I wrote a 30,000 word sample and hoped for the best.
This time round I ended up with three offers. It was a lovely position to be in, to have not only an offer, but three to consider. I then had a very difficult decision to make. Which one would I go for? The offers were for varying amounts of money and the three publishers were very different propositions. In business, you usually go for the contract offering the most money, but there was more to consider with this. What editor would I be working with? What was their plan to grow me as an author? What would the publishing schedule be like?
It’s so hard considering different offers and whilst the first draft of my novel probably would have been the same, the final product – thanks to the editing process and notes I would have received – would probably be wildly different. Add to that the cover, the marketing plan and the different sales teams, it’s impossible to know which publisher would have resulted in the most sales.
In the end, I decided to accept an offer from the new imprint of Bonnier publishing – Zaffre. Whilst it might have been seen as a bit risky, picking an imprint with no track record, I had a very good gut feeling about them. There’s a real energy and enthusiasm surrounding the launch of Zaffre and their sister imprint Twenty7 books (which publishes debut authors) and I wanted to be part of it. I’d also worked with the editor before, so I knew that he knew my work and what I was capable of.
I’m now a few months into my working relationship with my new publishers and I’ve recently handed in my completed novel. I’ve really enjoyed working with my editor so far and it makes me feel like I made the right decision. My novel, The Bucket List to Mend a Broken Heart, will be out in March, and it feels as exciting as it did the first time I was published.
What getting this all-important second contract has taught me is how precious a gift being an author is, and I’ll know this time not to take it for granted as I’ve learned there are no guarantees in publishing.