And yes, much as I love it, it is a crazy industry!
How did I start as a novelist? In 1991, I won a major $10,000 writing prize in Australia and publication of my first novel, after ten years of trying and six full novels written. To say I was ecstatic is putting it mildly – I was just about tap-dancing on the ceiling.
That book (Persons of Rank) was a regency romance, set in 1818, and was great fun to write. Thanks are due to Georgette Heyer, still my favourite author, for inspiring me to write it.
I didn’t look for an agent to handle this book. I have a Master of Business degree and the contract seemed straightforward enough. However, looking back, I didn’t understand all sorts of business details that needed following up – the sort of work an agent does, as well as selling books.
I didn’t even know there had been a US edition, didn’t receive or know to ask for sales statements, didn’t know about selling subsidiary rights . . . I was a babe in the publishing woods.
Then I came down with chronic fatigue syndrome and had to give up my day job. The editor who’d verbally accepted another book from me left the publisher– and I was dropped. Like the Queen, I was having an ‘annus horribilis’.
However, this was the best thing that could have happened to me, though I wouldn’t have believed that at the time.
I wrote to a London agent (Bob Tanner, RIP, lovely man) and he sold that other book within a month to Hodder & Stoughton. He said I’d be happy with them and I have been – for 21 years and 33 books, with more in the pipeline.
Bob and his lovely staff guided me gently through the publishing mazes, a very steep learning curve. My health improved and I found I could write more quickly. Bob sold one of my ‘spare’ books to Severn House. I’ve written 21 novels for them now, modern stories at the moment. My, how time flies when you’re having fun.
As I grew more experienced and speeded up still further, and started writing for Allison & Busby as well.
Now, I have 65 novels published, which I would never have dreamed could happen. As I live half the year in Australia and half in the UK, I continue to be glad of Broo’s help on so many levels. I couldn’t keep in touch with the UK publishing industry from 10,000 miles away and I don’t want to try. I want to write my stories.
I’ve been a story-teller since I was two. Stories run through my head morning, noon and night, more than I have time to write down. It’s a nuisance that a human being needs so much sleep!
Now, I’d better get back to my current story . . .