Dr.Eleanor Longden started hearing voices when she was a student. At first they were harmless and narrated whatever she did. But they became increasingly antagonistic and dictatorial, and made her life a nightmare. She was hospitalised, drugged and labelled schizophrenic. Eleanor went on to earn a master’s in psychology and demonstrate that the voices in her head were “a sane… Read more →
Editing is an important part of the writing process. That’s why I sent my manuscript off to someone in the publishing industry. I don’t have an agent or publisher and I didn’t want to put something out there that wasn’t credible. My editor was to be my gate keeper and a window into how my book is seen by the… Read more →
I sent a total of 34 proposals out: 18 of which received rejections and 16 I never heard back from. The standard response went something like this:
“Thank you for sending us this material, but I’m afraid it isn’t suitable for us. I’m sorry to disappoint, and wish you luck with your future writing.”
Only one agent gave me feedback as to why they didn’t go for it:
“Thanks so much for contacting us. I’ve read the sample material with interest. While I liked the chapters I wasn’t sufficiently swept along by the narrative to know that I’d be the best advocate for the book. Sorry! Best of luck elsewhere.”
The email I cherished the most, which I devoured like a drop of rain in the desert, came from Cara at the HHB Agency:
“Dear Emma, Thank you for your submission to HHB. I enjoyed reading your work, you write well, with intensity and style. However, as a small agency we are only ever able to take on a limited number of authors and I am afraid in this instance, we were not able to take you work further. I wish you all the best. All best, Cara”
One of the reasons I wanted to find a publisher was because I felt I wanted support to get the book out into the world. It is an entirely different process from writing the actual thing and requires very different skills. I’ve come to accept that I’m going to have to climb that particular mountain alone.
Thankfully there is help online at every step of the way.
The first thing I’ve done is to learn about cover design. I had a meeting with a graphic designer friend who very humbly said she wasn’t up for the job. I found a designer online, called Derek Murphy, who shared the secrets to designing a bestselling book cover. I’ve talked with bookshop assistants to find out what they think. I’ve played with different ideas and now, with a drum roll, I unveil the cover of my first book.
A huge thanks goes to artist Adriane Vinter from Norway for permission to use her image ‘Straight Jacket’.
There’s the writing of the book and then there’s the getting the book out into the world. And they’re two very different dragons to ride. It’s been six months of honing my message, crafting my pitch, researching the market, finding competing titles and succinctly summarising every chapter. With each submission, I’m effectively putting my heart and soul into words and offering it to a perfect stranger, asking… Read more →
I get this sudden terrifying thought that I’m going to die: a feeling of impending annihilation takes hold of me. It seems totally illogical because there is no actual physical threat. And it’s not a panicky fear either. It’s not like I’m so scared my head thinks it’s going to die. No. It’s as if, I unconsciously know my ego is… Read more →
So I’ve written a book. It was a hard slog showing up every day with a gaping chasm of a blank page staring at me. And spending ages hacking away at sentences to get them just right. Not to mention the years of getting the whole tone and voice right. So after nearly 19 years of putting it back on… Read more →
I’ve finished the book! Whoop whoop. High Five! It has a new ending after my EPIC Pilgrimage to Santiago, which wrote itself into my head on the way there. Now I need to find an agent/publisher. I also need a larger platform. I know there’s potentially thousands if not millions of people who would DEVOUR my book if they only knew… Read more →
I wrote the last sentence of my book this morning. Whoop whoop! High Five! Backflips all round… Over two years of discipline and commitment, not to mention the amount of wading through the quagmire of my sabotaging mind. My confidence in my writing has increased with the help of some critique from Elizabeth Diamond. I sent her another 20,000 words… Read more →
Here’s an extract taken from the last episode, when I’ve just come out of hospital:
“It’s so good to be home where I can potter around, make healthy meals and listen to the radio. I have it on as a soundtrack to my cooking. Like the classic Morecambe and Wise breakfast sketch where they dance to the striptease tune, I move around to the music. Taking a side step and sliding my other foot, Tango like, to join my first, before opening the cupboard door. Reaching for a pan and twisting to the hob and placing it deliberately on the beat. My every move is a dance, connected through the fabric of space, to the rhythm of the Universe. Even when the radio is switched off, I still feel the pulsing of life taking me as its partner.”