Traditionally, writers have come to TLC for assessments with a view to sending their work to agents. Now, however, we are seeing increasing numbers of writers who either come to us wanting to know what their other publication options might be, or those who come to us knowing that they want to self-publish, preferring the freedom and independence it grants them, and finding ways to reach and connect with new readerships digitally. Some will find a home with a smaller, independent presses, which are more likely to accommodate niche genres, or work that is difficult to categorise, or writing in specialised areas where the press has an established readership. Every writer will have a different ‘ideal’ for their work, but we are proud to see writers taking their work seriously enough to understand the importance of the editorial process as part of their journey to publication, and are committed to getting the best possible version of their work to readers, no matter the platform, medium or format. Here, we share two recent TLC clients’ stories.
When I first started writing seriously, I didn’t realise how difficult I’d find it to progress from writing for my own pleasure to writing for publication. Initially too inhibited to share my work with others, I had to learn that, however much I might like what I’d written, if it didn’t work for readers, it would have to go. The Free Read Scheme between the TLC and Nottinghamshire Literature Development Department introduced me to the value of professional critiques from the early days of my publication journey. In fact, I became something of a TLC junkie, popping back several times for expert feedback on my short stories and three different novels.
One of the hardest things to learn was that, so often, less is more. My first published novel, Sugar and Snails, took almost seven years from inception to publication, partly because I’d overcomplicated what is already a complex story. I was on the verge of giving up when a TLC reader convinced me that, while I might not have yet found the right way to tell it, this was definitely a story worth telling. In the meantime, a more positive report on what I hope will be my second novel, Underneath, encouraged me to believe that I had the capacity to write a novel that would engage readers.
Writing this two weeks after the publication of Sugar and Snails, my head swollen with a flurry of glowing reviews, I’m grateful to those early readers who told me I hadn’t got it right. I didn’t always find their feedback easy to swallow at the time, but I very much appreciate the honest appraisals that have pushed me to raise my game and write and rewrite until I had a novel of which I could be proud.
Sugar and Snails was published in July 2015 by Inspired Quill, and is available to order on Kindle or in paperback here.
I very much appreciate the honest appraisals that have pushed me to raise my game and write and rewrite until I had a novel of which I could be proud.
From the day I first began writing to the launch of my print and digital book, my debut novel Forty One took nearly six years to complete. At first, writing was a purely personal project; I wasn’t finding the kind of novel I wanted to read, so I got on with creating one: a contemporary story delving deeply into one character, whose choices reflect not only a personal past but broader society. The novel would also ask meaningful questions about modern life, admittedly a Tolstoyan task I’d set for myself!
After tentatively reaching out to friends for feedback and a few initial rewrites, I decided to try for traditional publication. Unfortunately I found myself in a repetitive loop of rejections from agents. No matter how many rewrites I undertook, I couldn’t gain traction. I decided to self publish, committed to producing a work that would not only stand alongside trade published books but also stand the test of time.
I never would have managed to give Forty One such a strong finish without editorial help from The Literary Consultancy. My editor saw what I was trying to achieve and provided specific, insightful comments on how to get pacing and structure right. It was heart-breaking to hear after so many years, but beautiful writing is not enough. I knew his tough criticism was correct: the only way forward was to rewrite the last third of the novel. That final edit made Forty One what it is, and I’ve had nothing but effusive comments since. I’m so grateful I took on TLC and listened!
Forty One is due to be published September 28th 2015 with Matador. You can read an extract from the book by visiting her website.
I now know it would not have had such a strong finish without the editorial help I received from The Literary Consultancy.