In January of this year, with my youngest settled at preschool, I finally had some time to do something for myself. Three mornings and one afternoon a week, I decided to sit down and try to write a book. It was a test; would I write? Could I write? Would I be any good?
By May I had a first draft of my first children’s novel: Alfie Slider vs the Shape Shifter. It’s been read by a few adults who have used words like ‘gripping’ and ‘page turner’, more than one has read it in one sitting. It’s also been read by some children, my target market, and they loved it too! The York Writers novelist support group have been really encouraging and supportive, and when I started sending the manuscript out in September I did it with high hopes.
Those hopes soon turned into misgivings as I got standard responses of ‘thanks for sending, we have to be very selective, your work isn’t quite what we’re looking for.’ I realised that something must be missing from the manuscript and hired Cornerstones Literary Consultancy to review the story for me.
Their response arrived in October; and it was basically positive. Yes, there were a few grammatical issues and bad habits that needed to be polished out but the basics of the story were there. Plot, pacing, characters – all great. So why wasn’t I ticking the boxes for the Agents?
Well, it turns out that in this financial climate, everyone is looking to minimise work and maximise profit. That means unless your work is perfect, and fits neatly into a marketing pigeon hole, it’s going to be a tough sell. Hard news to hear, but valuable to know.
I’m currently reworking the novel to tick a few more boxes, and am hoping to send it out again in the New Year. I believe in Alfie, and I’m sure the perfect Agent and Publisher are out there and that I will find them.
What I have come to realise though is that even if Alfie does get published, the chances of it making any kind of real money are slim. Even published authors are diversifying, either with school visits and workshops or offering their professional services via Literary Consultants. So, if I want to live the dream and earn a living from writing, I need to think with a business head on.
This week as I was talking this over with a friend, she turned my meanderings into a solid business idea. An exciting business idea. One that brings together my skills not just as a writer, but from previous experience. An idea that sits well with my ethics and principles. More than that, I can’t say at the moment but watch this space.
Interesting times! Life as a writer is never going to be routine, there will always be multiple projects and different stages to balance, and family life to fit in too. I’ve never been more exicted about, or ready for, the challenge.