Here is a reflection by Lois Elsden on the difficulties for ‘ordinary people’ of getting their books published:
I’ve written a lot about the difficulties I had over the years of getting my books taken up by agents and publishers; I’ve written dozens and dozens of letters, sent sample chapters off – and doing these things having researched as far as I could the requirements of said publishers and agents. I’ve, made sure I rang first if that’s what they said, wrote an introductory letter, if that’s what they required, sent specific samples… I got polite replies from some, I was ignored by most, and got rude replies from a few. Much of this was done before the internet, so everything had to be posted (with self-addressed, stamped envelopes included when I sent sample chapters) Many places said they would only look at stuff if theirs was the only place the item was sent to… so I would send it off, wait for months and months, and usually got no response, and would then send off a second copy to someone else. In the early days I had to type out a copy – I was so relieved when photocopying was available at a price I could afford.
So come the new age, come the internet and things became a little easier in terms of contacting people – and I soldiered on. I did wonder if maybe I was getting nowhere because my stories were rubbish – well, maybe they were but they were not as rubbish as a lot of things which were published! In the end, as I have mentioned here – and in a way it’s why I write here, I was able to take things into my own hands and self-publish on Kindle, publish my novels as e-books.
I’m sure it is partly luck, whether your novel arrives on the right desk on the right day, or whether your phone call is picked up by the right person, or the judges on a competition panel like the sort of thing you write, so luck, yes luck plays a huge part… But there is something else…
And this is the something else. I recently read a really good book, a first novel, published in another country and now available with massive promotion over here. The writer has never written a novel before, but now here it is – or rather, here they are, piles of them in all the book shops. Wow! Amazing! Wonderful and many congratulations! … is it a classic, a book which will endure over the decades… no possibly, probably, definitely not, it’s just a good read, a good yarn, well written.
So I look in the back of the book to find out more about the writer. The writer won an unpublished book competition – well done!! You deserve it – but there is a list of ‘thank you’s’ (which is nice) I always include ‘thank you’s’, but these ‘thank you’s’ are to:
- four different editors at three different publishing companies
- marketing and sales persons
- four different lots of agents
- a writing course (teachers, fellow students etc)
- and of course family and friends
Now all these things came together, and it is such a good book, I’m glad they all did. The writer is actually a journalist, so the day job became the life job (well, I hope writing is the life job!) As they were a journalist, I just wonder if maybe the contacts a journalist makes can help when a book wins a competition, the support, the networking, the knowing the right person… However, a competition was entered, and a competition was won!
So… I should keep on entering the competitions, obviously!
In the meantime, if you want to read my stories, all available as e-books and ‘Radwinter‘ available as a paperback, here is a link to them:
© Lois Elsden 2017