Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Journey to Publication via the New Writers' Scheme

Today we welcome Janice Preston, sharing her success and a few words of wisdom.

The most important decision I ever made was to join the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme in 2012. My submission that first year was easy – it was already written. I had submitted my second ever effort at a Regency to Mills and Boon in August 2011. I was thrilled to get a speedy response; not so thrilled that it was a ‘no’… BUT… they liked my ‘voice’.  I just hadn’t made the best use of my story (too much external conflict, not enough internal). Where to go from there? Rather than rewrite that rejected novel, I began what will be my debut novel, Mary and the Marquis. And promptly got stuck a quarter of the way in (saggy middle anyone?). I needed help. Enter the RNA. I decided to submit my rejected novel to the NWS and to use the feedback to help me to complete Mary and the Marquis.

The report was sooo helpful. I didn’t allow the negative comments (and there were plenty!) to weigh me down. But progress on M&theM was still more stop than go. At the Conference that summer, I pitched it to Linda Fildew of M&B. She was encouraging; gave me some tips; asked me to send her the completed transcript. It was the perfect incentive to rush on and complete it. Wasn’t it?

It was HARD! I am slow. ‘Real life’ got in the way. My confidence in my writing soared and dipped like a swallow in flight. I almost didn’t finish in time to submit to the NWS 2013 but, re-energised by the 2013 Conference, I finally submitted in early August.

The assessment was fantastic! In the Reader’s opinion the manuscript was almost ready to submit to M&B.
Yes, there were issues but nothing I couldn’t put right. I discovered later that my Reader was the lovely Linda Hooper, who writes Historicals as Sarah Mallory for M&B. Melanie Hilton (who also writes Historicals for M&B as Louise Allen) offered to speak to her editor (Linda Fildew!)about me once I had completed any alterations. I know how lucky I was to bypass that dreaded slush pile.

I got ‘The Call’ from Linda on November 7th, 2013, offering me a two book contract. I was going to be published!

If you are on the NWS – catapulting between hope and despair, as most of us do – here are some things I have learned:

·         Be aware of your ability to accept criticism. It’s easy to react emotionally and become defensive. Criticism of your work is not an attack on you personally!
·         Don’t concentrate solely on the negative points, celebrate the positive comments too. You deserve it. It’s tough to write a book. You are already a success.
·         Differentiate between the comments on your technique and those that seem to relate more to your Reader’s personal opinion. Still consider those ‘subjective’ points, but focus on the rest.
·         The assessment is one person’s opinion. Not everyone will ‘get’ your writing.
·         Keep going. You are learning and improving all the time. You will never stop learning and improving, ask any multi-published author.

Thank you for joining us, Janice. I’m sure your experience will be an inspiration to many members of the New Writers’ Scheme.

This blog is brought to you by Elaine Everest and Natalie Kleinman.
If you would like to write something for the RNA blog please contact us on:elaineeverest@aol.com


Rosalind Rendle said...

What a positive and helpful article. Thank you and WELL DONE to Janice.

Wendy's Writing said...

This interview shows how hard work pays off. Thank you Janice.

Rachael Thomas said...

Great to read about your journey to publication Janice and congratulations with your debut!