Sunday, 6 November 2016

The Planter's Daughter and her publishing journey.

This novel I've been banging on about - you might have gathered by now that I'm self-publishing. Why wouldn't I? I've learned enough about the technology and marketing pitfalls through the travel writing, so that bit doesn't daunt me.

But I did make a brief foray into traditional publishing - mainly in the hope that someone else would fund the editing. It was, mostly, a grim business. Not because there was no enthusiasm - on the contrary. Out of eight submissions (one agent, seven independent publishers) I was asked for six full manuscripts. Which is enough to tell me this can't be total twaddle.

It also took forever. With one exception, it disappeared into a publishing abyss for months. I'd send gentle reminders (that balance between not wanting to be pushy and suggesting that they treat me with respect). And each time, eventually, that 'we love it, but we just don't love it enough' arrived.

But I do want to highlight the exception: The Linen Press. I sent it to them because I'd read in an interview with the main editor in Mslexia, and she came across as kind and funny and honest. She responded to my query within days, asking for a full manuscript. And the rejection came within two weeks - and with it a comment about my complex sentences.

Pah, I thought. What does she know? Besides, no one had ever said that to me before, and so it was no doubt her way of being kind.

And then I looked again at the opening paragraph of the novel - and there, right in the middle of it, was a dog's dinner of a sentence.

It was one of many back-to-the-beginning moments. I went back to the manuscript, and unpicked it line after line. I knew what I was trying to say - but would anyone else? So I owe them a huge thank you.

It has, since, been through a number of readers (and countless rewrites) and then I bit the bullet and found an editor. That has been another learning curve, as she asked about lost characters (I knew where they were, but had to admit that maybe they weren't on the page). Plus one character who, she felt, needed active retribution that went far beyond feeling a bit miserable.

And now I am on the home straight. My editor has been poorly recently, which has set things back a little. But, give me a week or several, and The Planter's Daughter will be ready to go!


  1. Replies
    1. Nor, now - can I!! It's taken forever, so it's time for this book to set sail!

  2. Great stuff Jo! I can't wait to read it.

  3. Woohoo! What a fund of patience you have, Jo! It deserves to be a success and from what I have read in your blogs, I think it will be! Fantastic!

    1. Patience, or bloody-mindedness? It's a fine line.

  4. I'm glad you're self-publishing, Jo!

    Tips: don't bother with paperbacks, unless you can invest lots of time hawking them around independent book shops and doing literary festivals. Go on KDP and price it high enough to be able to put it on Kindle Countdown discount every so often. Choose your 7 keywords according to what genre charts you'd ideally like to see it in!!!

    First novels are always hard to write, aren't they??? I think it takes time to learn how to structure one. Happens with experience... but how do you get that experience except by getting it wrong??!! I really understand that 'needed more retribution apart from feeling miserable'. One of the worst things you can do to a reader is make them think, 'is that it?'

    I look forward to reading it!

    1. Many thanks for this, Terry - I've a few friends who wilt at the prospect of e-readers, so there will be a print book but more for friends than in the hope of making much money. And thanks for the pricing advice, and thoughts about choosing my keywords.