The phone rang, it was the publishing agent. ‘Do you want the good news or the bad news?’ he said, referring to my manuscript. ‘It is a fantastic story and very inspiring’ was the good news. The bad was ‘you’ve written it very much in the third person, it is too impersonal, there needs to be more of you, personally and emotionally. You are also far too diplomatic about other people, it’s obvious you are skirting around the edges’. Then came the kicker. My jaw dropped open at their next piece of advice. ‘We are worried that you might be old news from the marketing angle of the book. Would you think about possibly going into the jungle……or how about doing something shocking like taking your top off in public.’ What the! No I hadn’t and wasn’t about to either! ‘x*@**!!’ was my reply which, to roughly translate, said thanks for the advice, goodbye and all the best for the future.
I phoned Gareth and told him what had happened. We discussed what they had said about the manuscript itself. ‘It’ll mean a re-write’ Gareth said, ‘and I mean a complete re-write from the very start’. I sighed inwardly as it had taken so long to get to this stage and now I was faced with having to start again. Very dis-heartened I turned from the book and walked away, believing it was over.
Then, in early 2012, I stumbled across a copy of the manuscript and considered disposing of it. Before doing so I decided to read what had been written and as I did it suddenly became clear to me. Others had said what a good story it was but I could now see that it was indeed too distant, matter of fact and none of me or my personality came across. Perhaps it was because I had treated it as a job of work and something I had to do rather than appreciating it had to come from feelings and emotion and be done because I wanted to share with others. I contacted Gareth and, together, we started again but this time I was careful to ‘feel’ each chapter. I put myself back into each period of time and wrote how I was feeling at the time and what my true thoughts and observations were. Even when I was describing painful events I let the words flow from my heart rather than my head. It took us the rest of the year but when complete both of us sat back pleased, exhausted and very happy with the result. I also found that because I had finally poured all of my feelings into it, this time, it was a cathartic experience.
With no publishing agent the only option I could see was to self publish. This bit has become far simpler than in years gone by and is a fairly straight forward process. I found, and can recommend, the book How to Self Publish – a Guardian Masterclass by Ed Peppitt as a great starting point in beginning the process. It gives clear, concise and practical advice on all the steps you should consider in self publishing. I found it helped me draw up a good action plan of the path I wanted to follow to bring the book to the bookshelves.
Another huge point that came across from my other research was that the failure of a lot of self published books is because authors do not bother to have their manuscript properly edited by a professional. Not a trap I wanted to fall into, having poured so much of myself into the new version, so after much asking around and following recommendations I hired a freelance editor who had worked in publishing houses for over 20 years and was highly thought of by his peers.
While my editor was busy with my manuscript I found myself having lunch with another friend, Tony, in London to whom I mentioned my book’s progress thus far. ‘Hang on. I know someone you should meet’ he said while grabbing his mobile phone and talking animatedly to someone at the far end, while I continued to munch my pasta and wonder what was going on. Before I knew quite what was happening Tony had whisked me off to meet with the person he had been speaking to – and so it was that I met Sam from Biteback Publishing house……….
Pam Warren’s new book – “From Behind the Mask” – Coming 4 March 2014 – The inspiring true story.