Harbottle novelist B.A. Morton on her debut success
PUBLISHED: 00:32 20 February 2012 | UPDATED: 21:04 20 February 2013
A mum-of-three from Harbottle has had international success with her debut book plus advice from the experts on how to get your book published
Everyone, it is said, has a book in them and there are now more ways than ever to get it out. A doctors receptionist from Harbottle has made the most of the new technology to get her work into print.
More than 15,000 copies of Babs Mortons debut novel, a romantic thriller set in New York, were downloaded on the Kindle in the first five days after it was released.
The 51-year-old former civil servant said: Initially I posted some of my writing on a website where people could read it and give me feedback and that was quite encouraging. That was a huge step for me, no-one had read my work before then, not even my husband.
But I realised that being on there wouldnt get me published so I entered a competition and came second. That really set me off. I got some really good feedback and thought I must be OK at this so I approached a publisher. I had never had the confidence to do that before.
After its initial launch on the Kindle, Mrs Jones is now out in print in America and will reach bookshops in this country later this year and the mother-of-three has now written a sequel and an historical novel set in Coquet Valley, both of which are due to be released soon.
I have another one or two Im working on which are just a couple of chapters in, she added. I just like to write. The idea that someone would pick it up and read it was enough for me but for lots of people to read it is quite incredible
I am 51 and to be honest I probably did think my chance had gone but then, I hadnt tried that hard. Id not approached agents or publishers. It has all come as a really nice surprise.
Babs advice to other writers who want to get their work published
The best advice I can give is to keep at it. The first draft of Mrs Jones was pretty shabby. Although Ive always loved to write, I have no literary qualifications, I just had stories in my head but you have to be able to get them down in a way other people will follow them.
You need to learn the craft and to be able to take criticism and learn from peoples comments. I was very much a traditional book person, until now! I can see that this is going to be the way things are in the future and I must admit I have become rather obsessed with checking the Kindle charts. The new publishing technology has its advantages, particularly for new writers. Good luck!
Download Mrs Jones from www.amazon.co.uk.
How to get your book published
Many people dream of seeing their work in print, here top publishers give tips on how you can do it
So, youve had the idea, youve spent months writing and re-writing, youve honed every word and now your book is ready. But weve all heard the tales of woe from established authors who have entire walls decorated with rejection letters so how do you make sure you are on the fast-track to the bookshop shelves?
Wayne Brookes, Publishing Director at Macmillan says:
When acquiring a new author I look for a number of things, and it really isnt a case of simply loving the manuscript. Ive loved many a novel but not been able to take it any further.
A writer needs to research the market and look at the bestseller lists. See what people are buying and then put your own stamp on something, you have to be original without putting yourself in a niche. I have three major rules, and all the boxes have to be ticked. Firstly, do I love this novel?
Secondly, can I see others loving this novel? And finally, will my sales, marketing and publicity teams share my passion and vision. If were all on the same track then Ill make my offer. As I said, I may love a novel, but if I dont have a clear vision of how to publish it then I have to say no.
Once the deal is done then its always good for an author to have a personal story of why they write, or why they wrote that particular book.
Books dont just sell themselves and an author needs to be able to conduct themselves in interviews and speak about their novel to various trade buyers etc. I would advise any new author to get themselves an agent (a task in itself), but if someone takes you on, they will work with you on the manuscript and get it ready for someone like me.
Over the years, editors forge relationships with agents and if an agent calls up and pitches something to you, it more often than none goes straight to the top of the pile. It really is rare these days for a publishing house to look at unsolicited manuscripts, so I would always advise a new writer to get the Writers Handbook and choose an agent who represents the type of book you are writing.
Andrew Dunn, Editorial Director, Frances Lincoln says:
We ask ourselves a number of questions, starting with: Is the proposal suitable for our list? Our brand is trusted by readers looking for books on a particular range of subjects, and we best understand how to produce, sell and market books in these areas.
Our website advises writers that Frances Lincoln is a publisher of non-fiction books, predominantly illustrated, on a range of subjects which include the following: gardens and gardening; walking, climbing and the outdoors; art, architecture and design; food and travel. We do not accept any unsolicited manuscripts for novels or poetry (though we still get them).
Is this an expert and / or original treatment of the subject?
Has the author any sort of a track record or public profile?
Can it be profitably published?
If we think that a project is suitable, and of a high standard, then we have to think about whether the numbers add up. We discuss this with colleagues in our sales, marketing and publicity departments, often trying to judge sales potential based on previous comparable books that we and others have published.
We think about what competing books are out there, and about suitable formats and retail prices. Then we think about any extra cost involved, for instance in commissioning or buying illustrations. (Though some of our authors also provide illustrations, or make a joint proposal together with an illustrator / photographer.) We work out what share of the revenues we can offer the author, and perhaps make an offer to publish the book.
The print version of this article appeared in the March 2012 issue of North East Life
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