Like many people, it has always been a dream of mine to write a book and see it on the shelves of my favourite Waterstones.
When I got the idea for the Sorceress of Truth, and the whole Divine Prophecy world, and realised it had legs, I felt a buzz of excitement. This was my chance.
After several years of on again/off again writing I finally wrote `the end’. But, as most writers will tell you, the end is just the beginning.
I read through my draft, made a few changes, and exuberantly sent it off to publishers who would accept unsolicited manuscripts in my genre. I’d already decided that I didn’t want an agent.
I waited and I waited. I received a few holding emails and waited some more. Eventually responses began trickling in: thanks, but no thanks. The only positive response ended up coming from a vanity publisher.
Saying I was disappointed would be an understatement. All my hours of research, late night writing sessions and gallons of coffee, and all I had to show for it was a stack of rejections.
With my confidence at an all time low I had two options, give up on the story all together or ask for the opinions of others, which obviously meant sending it back out into the big wide world.
A few friends and family members read the raw version of Sorceress of Truth and seemed to like it but, were they being impartial?
A competition in a magazine caught my eye at just the right time, the Northern Writers Awards 2017.
Initially I had to submit a 6000 word sample which would be read by a panel and then decided on whether it went to the next round. I had only a few days before the deadline but managed it with a day or two to spare.
Out of 3112 entries, my work had been chosen as one of the top 250 titles progressing to the next stage! Unfortunately it didn’t get any further, but still, being in the top 8% was a huge confidence boost.
It wasn’t just a fluke, people did seem to like the Sorceress of Truth, but how could I make it better?
First I employed an editor who, while they did tidy up my manuscript, didn’t feel like quite the right fit. Then I sat on it for a year while I took a break and concentrated on other projects.
Eventually I became more active on Instagram and made some great writing friends. It turned out one of them was an editor and she posted about manuscript reviews. I’d never heard of a manuscript review before but it sounded perfect.
I knew I had a great story, I just felt it was lacking in a few areas and needed more character development. I needed someone to say, `I loved that scene but maybe you could explore their reaction a little more’, or `you could do with some extra details here’, or `the end of this scene is too sudden’.
Well, after nervously handing over my manuscript for three weeks, I received my novel back with lots of notes and a detailed report, and I can honestly say it was the best decision I ever made.
I agreed with pretty much everything that was said and my novel was a lot better for it. I could have quite literally thrown in the towel and hit the release button months ago, but it wouldn’t have been my best work.
You will never achieve perfect. There will always be a sentence to tweak here or a paragraph to rewrite there, but, you owe it to your characters, your readers and yourself to release your best work in that moment. Your style and craft will forever be changing and adapting.
Now, I’m proud and exhilarated at the thought of unleashing Tory and her story. It’s just a few short months away to my scheduled release date, something that I never thought would happen.
Self publishing was never something that was on my radar, and I’ll speak more about that in another post, but now I’ve taken the plunge I know it’s the right choice for me. I just hope the Sorceress of Truth is as successful as I know it can be, even if it’s just to prove the publishers and their rejection letters wrong.
So long for now,