Today we are joined Ellie Holmes who talks about her debut novel 'The Flower Seller. Ellie's inspirational tale reminds us that persistence definitely pays off because, after twelve years, her novel is finally published this June.
I first joined the RNA in 2004 and eagerly submitted my manuscript The Flower Seller to the New Writers’ Scheme. The report I received was tremendously helpful in highlighting where the weaknesses were and how they might be tackled. I knuckled down and in 2005 submitted the reworked manuscript to the NWS, having taken into account a lot of what my reader in 2004 had suggested. This time The Flower Seller made it through to second read stage so all the hard work was worth it.
2005 was also the year of my first RNA Conference. At that conference I attended an Agents’ Panel discussion when the wonderful Broo Doherty (now of DHH Literary Agency) spoke of her wish to find new authors.
I didn’t think she could possibly be talking about me. After all The Flower Seller still needed more tweaking and I felt sure Broo would only want people who were the finished article. Then the fabulous Nicola Cornick of this parish (who at the time ran the NWS) spoke to me, asking if I was going to contact Broo. I explained my reasons for not doing so. Nicola, in the nicest possible way, gave me a metaphorical slap round the head and told me to contact her anyway. A few weeks’ later, the ink was drying on my contract with a London literary agent.
Over the years that I have worked with her, Broo has made me a better writer but despite her best endeavours we never landed that elusive contract for The Flower Seller or my later books.
As the marketplace changed, I decided I would go down the self-published route and it made sense to make The Flower Seller, which is so dear to my heart, my first release. I took it out of the forgotten folder it had been tucked into on the computer and set about giving it a polish and an update (smartphones were only a twinkle in Steve Jobs’ eye when the book was first written). Taking my courage in both hands I set out on the path to becoming an indie author benefitting hugely from all those who have gone before and been generous enough to share their experiences.
The Flower Seller was finally published on 2nd June. A nice little postscript to this tale is that as I was putting The Flower Seller together for publication I made my first sale to a traditional publisher. I am used to those kind of kinks in the road now.
The RNA is a wonderful organisation and the NWS is a wonderful scheme.
Rewrites that are focused and with a purpose in mind are all part of the job.
We all need cheerleaders – mine were Nicola and Broo.
The road to publication may have as many twists and turns as your plot so be prepared.
NEVER GIVE UP!
Ellie Holmes writes commercial women's fiction and romantic cosy mysteries. Born in Essex but made in Cornwall, Ellie takes her inspiration from the beautiful Essex countryside and the sublime Cornish coast. Juggling commitments to family and friends alongside a part time job in the law and her writing, Ellie describes her days as hectic and her nights as long but says she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Thank-you for taking the time to tell us here at the RNA Blog about your experiences Ellie. We hope this story is the first of many we will see from you.
If you wish to write something for the blog or be interviewed please contact firstname.lastname@example.org