Sunday, 8 October 2017

Welcoming Julie Shackman to the blog

Today I am delighted to welcome Julie Shackman to the blog for the first time. Julie was among one of the first people to sign up for the 'where do you get your ideas from' feature, but unfortunately circumstances beyond her control meant that particular post wasn't destined to be written... yet. However, what Julie has delivered instead is an uplifting Path to Publication piece which is so encouraging I simply had to feature it. Congratulations Julie!

We were due to travel to the States in July but due to family illness, we cancelled our trip.

So, when I volunteered to write this post for Heidi, she explained I would be asked to write about where I had been and what had inspired me.
As I’m unable to write about a specific location we’ve just returned from, I decided instead to talk about my “writing journey” and where it’s taken me.

To say it’s been a straight forward road, with beautiful scenery and no bumps, is an understatement!
My first two romcoms were published as e-books by a London based digital publisher 3-4 years ago, but like most writers, I always dreamt of securing an agent and traditional publisher.
So I sat and wrote my third novel, edited it and started the submissions process.
To my delight, I was eventually offered representation by a literary agent. That was until I parted company with her ten months later, when she informed me she’d been unable to sell it. “I usually represent crime and thriller writers,” she informed me.
Deflated, I undertook more editing of my third novel and repeated the submission process.
After a few weeks, another literary agent rang to say he “loved” my book and wanted to represent me.
Then there was silence.
After several months of very little contact, I was brutally dropped via email one Friday afternoon when he informed me he also couldn’t sell it.

My confidence was bruised and battered. I remember crying to my Husband and explaining tearfully to our two sons that I simply didn’t have the energy to continue.
However, by this point, I’d already started writing Book Four. Although still devastated by the rejections I’d received, I found myself getting so absorbed in my characters and story, it helped to ease some of the pain and proved to be a welcome distraction.
Book Four was soon complete after several rounds of edits.
Now what?

The prospect of having to start again on the submissions merry-go-round filled me with dread.
Still, if I did want to be published, I had no other option.
Taking a deep breath, I began submitting Book Four to agents. I received some very positive comments but no offers.
That was until I contacted uber agent Selwa Anthony.
I emailed her my synopsis and first ten pages one Saturday afternoon in April this year and then tried to forget about it.
Much to my surprise, she responded within forty eight hours, to say she enjoyed reading my submission and requested the full novel.                                                                                                                          
I was encouraged but refused to think too far ahead. I had been in this situation before and couldn’t bear the thought of going through that entire “thanks but no thanks” scenario yet again.
Selwa promised to get back in touch with me within two weeks with her decision.

The next fourteen days were tense, but I read lots; entered writing competitions; undertook my freelance work and tried to resist the temptation to refresh my In Box every ten minutes
Day twelve arrived and so did an email from Selwa to say she wanted to talk. My heart almost burst out of my chest. I convinced myself not to get too carried away until we had spoken.
She was lovely; enthusiastic; friendly; professional and full of positivity about my writing. Then she rounded off the call by offering me representation.
I was delighted but still felt a bit like Bill Murray in “Ground Hog Day.”
We worked on edits and then she began submitting to publishers.
I knew securing an agent was no guarantee of publication.
Other writers I had read about said they had to wait months before getting a publisher. Others were more fortunate with a publisher offering to buy their novel in weeks. Then there were the writers (who like me previously) found no-one ultimately offered to publish it.

Then, six weeks after Selwa signed me, she emailed, saying “Please read email below. I am a very happy agent!  Ring me asap!”
I screamed and burst into tears when I read prestigious Australian publishers Allen & Unwin were offering me a publishing deal.

I can’t describe how thrilled I am, that I didn’t stop writing.

My romantic comedy, “The Silver Bracelet” will be published in paperback by Allen & Unwin very soon.
It really is true – the writing journey is a tough one but you WILL reach your destination.

Please don’t give up!

Julie X - Twitter Handle

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