A TLC Self-Pub Journey: Naomi Brandel - The Literary Consultancy

A TLC Self-Pub Journey: Naomi Brandel

September 04, 2017 | Other News, TLC Talent

 

Naomi Brandel is a longstanding TLC client, and we’re so thrilled to share the news that she has self-published her fantastic book After Trelawny after 17 years of hard work. The book was initially edited in its early draft form by Sara Maitland at TLC after being submitted for manuscript assessment. After several agent rejections but the continued encouragement of her family and editor, Naomi decided to bite the bullet and publish independently, taking her time to ensure the book was in the best possible shape. She enlisted the help of copy-editor Janette Currie after we put them in touch thinking them a good fit, and it was a former TLC manager, Patsy Trench, doing the behind the scenes technical magic to make the book come to life in ebook and POD format. The book tells the stories of the eclectic romantic, Edward Trelawny, a friend of Lord Byron and Shelley, and the modern romance of Nell, their cross-century tales interwoven by a large cave on Mount Parnassus in Greece, where Nell is commissioned to research Trelawny’s time there for a movie job that she has landed.

Now, the book is out in the world, and Naomi has received her first fan letter at the age of 77. We are delighted to have been part of her journey, and to be able to share her story.


My Journey to Self-Publication, by Naomi Brandel

“A good review in 1998 of Lord Byron’s Jackal: A Life of Edward John Trelawny by David Crane started me off. Drinking up Trelawny’s preposterous adventures in a cave on Mount Parnassus in the 1820s, I decided to buy David Crane’s book, write a novel about Trelawny and his cave, and ally it with a modern story set in Athens. I had written a ‘first novel’ which was happily cast aside and there was no reason not to keep writing, especially if it took me to Parnassus.

Climbing mountains was never my forte. It seemed wise to take along my daughter and her boyfriend both with circus skills; as well as my boyfriend who had ancient climbing boots, a strong will and professed himself a chancer.

Drinking up Trelawny’s preposterous adventures in a cave on Mount Parnassus in the 1820s, I decided to buy David Crane’s book, write a novel about Trelawny and his cave, and ally it with a modern story set in Athens. I had written a ‘first novel’ which was happily cast aside and there was no reason not to keep writing, especially if it took me to Parnassus.

But when it came to the moment I gave way to terror. At last we were below the cave, in the vast beauty of the Velitza Gorge and I was stuck. Whereupon three people I loved began their climb along the gorge and up the ladders erected by Trelawny in 1824. I stayed in the valley and watched. I had given Shaena a bright pink T- shirt and I watched this speck of pink move up and up towards the dark mouth of the cave. It seemed to take them hours and the fact that two of them were professionals was the only reassuring bit. They came to Trelawny’s third ladder and couldn’t see the top of it or how it was ‘rigged’.  Shaena refused to go any further: she couldn’t be sure it was safe. My ability to breathe properly didn’t start again until they were back down. When I wrote the scenes of the book set on Mount Parnassus I realised how much material their climb and my fears had given me.

Over the years of researching, writing and editing After Trelawny many people helped me.  The Literary Consultancy and Becky Swift in particular.  They recommended Sara Maitland as editor. Her enthusiasm in her first report not only hugely encouraged me but gave much needed advice. The second draft came out of this and was accepted by Sara and TLC.  ‘After Trelawny is deeply engaging and entirely plausible… with seriously strong and delightfully engaging characters… and it is all marked with a strong and original authorial voice’. I was given ten agents’ names to try. So far, so good.

I was sixty when I started writing After Trelawny.  It took many rejections to realise that as far as a writing career went I wasn’t a good marketable bet for any agent.  And although that has proved true, with publication and decent backing who knows what might have ensued?

I was sixty when I started writing After Trelawny.  It took many rejections to realise that as far as a writing career went I wasn’t a good marketable bet for any agent.  And although that has proved true, with publication and decent backing who knows what might have ensued?  I certainly love writing.  

After Trelawny appeared deliciously and steadily through unslept hours and daily walks. For starters I refused to outline the plot.  I was on an adventure to get to know my characters one by one;  to listen to them.  This involved many rewrites (I like honing).  It wasn’t  until page 143 when she blurted it out that I realised what Molly had to do and why she had befriended Odysseus.  Of course, a young fit aerialist would be up for it! And of course Nell would never agree to take such a risk with her grandmother!  Returning them all to the mountain provided lively rows and good reason for the ghost of Zella to have taken up residence there with her baby sister. As this became clear the end slowly revealed itself and I followed on laughing.

Each time I sent those first 30 pages out to yet another agent I got clever at bringing the story forward (one chapter equals less gaps and more text). When I decided to self-publish last year, TLC suggested Janette Currie as copy editor, a brilliant choice.  She questioned the long first chapter  and suggested simply dividing it into a chapter for each voice. Thus the original second chapter is now chapter eleven.

Today I had a fan letter: I have just completed reading your wonderful novel.  I am itching to get my hands on the sequel.  I really didn’t want it to end.  Out on a walk I wonder about a sequel and ask grandmother Molly’s question:  at 77 is it too late?”

Buy the book

You can buy After Trelawny in both ebook and print format here. If you are a Stroud resident, the book is also available from Stroud Bookshop, which supports local indie authors.


If you are writing a book and are interested in the possibilities of self-publishing it, do feel free to get in touch with us about assessment, mentoring (we now also have a self-publishing specialist writing mentor) copy-editing/proofreading, or some advice about getting started. It’s important to plan ahead and have a proper strategy with independent publishing, and whilst we can’t press the button for you, we can certainly refer you onward to the best freelancers who prioritise quality in all they do, so that you can self-publish the book you want to write safely, well, and with pride.