by Anna Bell
When I delivered my third novel and came to the end of my publishing contract, I was nervous about getting another deal, but I took it for granted and presumed I would, continuing to pump out books as before. Only when looking for a new contract I soon realised that there are no guarantees when it comes to the wonderful world of publishing.
I was excited when I finished my third and final novel. I’d come to the end of my Don’t Tell series and I was looking forward to sinking my teeth into a new set of books. I sat down with my coloured pens and fancy notebook, started planning and came up with a few different book ideas.
The first stage was to discuss the book ideas with my agent. We bounced ideas around and I decided to work up a trio of books based on a magazine blog. The first of which would focus on the false nature of social media – a topic that I thought was quite contemporary and would be a fun subject. I wrote a chapter as a sample, along with detailed synopsis, and a plan for the subsequent books.
As with most book contracts I had a clause in mine that gave my existing publishers a first look at my next idea, and they had six weeks to consider it before it went out to other publishers. Now, last year, my existing publisher was going through a major reshuffle and they weren’t in a position to offer me a new contract at the time, which meant my sample and synopsis went out to other publishing houses.
At first I was excited and constantly refreshing my inbox, desperate to hear news. Despite being nervous, I was convinced that the offers would start flooding in. Only when the feedback came in from editors, and the offers failed to roll in, the reality started to hit. Maybe my dream of continuing as an author was going to come to an end just as I’d started to get used to being one?
I had one publisher take my books to their acquisition meeting, but it came back as a no, and another editor asked me to write on different topics. The rest of the feedback from editors was that they liked my writing and style, but hated the ideas for the books. At the end of the process it had been an agonising three months with the worst possible outcome.
I should have known that there were no guarantees in publishing. I’ve heard of lots of stories of authors who had publishers that closed down and then they struggled for years to get another to take them on. I even heard of other authors that got dropped by their publishers mid way through their contracts. I also know authors who have had their books subbed and not got an offer. As naive as it sounds, I just never thought it would happen to me.
I then felt really stupid and arrogant. I’d just assumed I’d get another contract and when I didn’t get one immediately I started to panic and wondered what I’d do. Would I go back to self-publishing? There was something inside me that didn’t want to give up on the dream that I’d worked so hard to achieve. I decided to write on the other topic as suggested by the editor, and I hoped that would turn out better.
To be continued…