From dark days to OMG: How I got my 2nd publishing deal

As announced in my April post, my novel THE GIRL IN HIS EYES will be published by Bloodhound Books in September 2018 emoticons - tears of joyThe due date, 18 September, is coincidentally the day after my birthday so I’ll have no excuse not to celebrate! Yesterday I handed in my last structural edits and now the copywriter will get to work.

Though I considered offering TGIHE to Unbound, who published my debut novel Blind Side, I knew I didn’t have the energy to go through the crowdfunding stage again

for my second book, not yet anyway. (However I’m not closing the door on publishing with them in the future.)

Getting this offer from Bloodhound has been an exercise in patience, resilience, stubbornness and bloody-mindedness, as my O.H. will testify! I started THE GIRL IN HIS EYES many years ago when I was single and at a crossroads in my life (last century in fact, 1999). It is extra special to me as it was the first novel I managed to see through to the end, after various attempts in my 20s/early 30s.

Support from other writers

Hilary praise for GIHE

I’ve always had faith in THE GIRL IN HIS EYES, in part due to the wonderful encouragement I’ve received from fellow writers over the years, who have also helped me knock it into shape. A heartfelt thank you to everyone who’s offered advice or support on this novel. I’ve had feedback from many writers from the early 2000s onwards, e.g. members of the novelists’ group which used to meet at a north London library near me and before that my local writer’s circle. Later I had some excellent support/advice from members of an online writing group, including some from the former Authonomy writing community. (While I’m at it… thanks too to the authors and bloggers on Book Connectors who’ve given support via FB and Twitter, and all the Unbound authors I’ve got to know!)

In particular one person gave me much support, both practical and emotional – Hilary Bailey, the prolific and highly regarded novelist who sadly died last year. She was also a kind and generous person who was always willing to help others, and I know she would have been very happy for me. Above and below are a couple of notes I received from her.

Hilary feedback note on GIHE

Agent woes

In a fit of enthusiasm, I sent out the second or third draft of the novel (then ‘Shadow Man’) to far too many literary agents before belatedly realising that it wasn’t anything like ready. The characters weren’t developed enough and the plot lacked something crucial. In 2006, after finishing the first draft of another novel, I redrafted the earlier novel and submitted it to more agents, this time with the current title THE GIRL IN HIS EYES. (No, I’m not jumping on ‘The Girl’ bandwagon, this title was suggested around ten years ago by a writer friend – before The Girl on the Train or Gone Girl.)

One agent in particular told me (after a long wait) that she loved the novel but unfortunately she didn’t like the other novel I showed her (an early version of BLIND SIDE, since published with Unbound). So I gritted my teeth, put the manuscript aside and started work on other things, including a third novel (not yet published).

Note: I was planning to include a picture of one of my rejection letters here but I can’t find any – maybe I tore them all up in a strop one day 🙂 

Last year (2017) I went back to work on TGIHE, offering it for feedback with an online writing group (cue much trepidation as many of its members are not afraid to be forthright in their opinions!) After that I rewrote the novel once again, shifting the emphasis from an intense psychological drama towards a psychological thriller, and submitted to yet more agents. My effort resulted in more rejections along with a request for a full MS, which was exciting for a while but ultimately came to nothing.

So, earlier this year I decided to approach publishers directly. (At least the agent submission process has honed my synopsis-writing skills, LOL)

Getting a ‘Yes’

By mid-March I’d had one rejection and a couple of publishers had shown interest but not made a decision. When Bloodhound’s submissions window opened, I pounced (I knew from blogging and social media that they were a high-profile, well respected publisher of crime and thrillers). Within a couple of weeks they’d asked for the full MS (over the Easter weekend) and a week later, praise the goddess, I was offered a contract!! I was muttering OHMYGODOHMYGOD for quite a while before shock turned to relief.

I hope that my ‘road to publication’ story gives comfort and renewed faith to anyone who’s been quietly writing away for a long time, wondering if their novel will ever be picked up by a publisher. Mine was, after so many years I thought it must be jinxed! So if you don’t want to self-publish but do want to get your novel(s) out there with the backing of a publisher, please don’t give up! It can happen at any time and you only need one ‘Yes’. Fortunately these days it’s getting easier to bypass agents altogether.

What’s Book 2 about then?

It’s exciting and slightly scary to finally be able to talk in public about this book. THE GIRL IN HIS EYES is a psychological thriller with echoes of Lolita. A married businessman and father of two who’s been secretly abusing children sets his sights on a 12-year-old girl with dreams of becoming a fashion model… The subject matter really is dark, and quite topical given #MeToo. Not only that, one of the POV characters is a child abuser. (yes, I know)

I’ll say more about TGHIE in later posts.  In the coming weeks I may have come up with Part 2 of The story behind THE GIRL IN HIS EYES.

16 thoughts on “From dark days to OMG: How I got my 2nd publishing deal

  1. Well done you for hanging on in there. People always seem surprised when I tell them that my debut was actually the fourth full length novel I had written. ‘Don’t give up”really is the best advice for aspiring authors! All tbe best with number two xxx

  2. Good to hear that first manuscripts don’t have to live in drawers forever. I live in hope! So happy to hear this news and look forward to reading TGIHE. Congrats, Jennie.

  3. Great to hear you’ve bagged a publishing contract and looking forward to reading it. This one sounds pretty edgy with a splash of controversy. Good luck with it.
    You’ve reminded me that I need to give Mark Roman (my writing buddy) a kick and get back to writing something. It’s just such a lot of hard work … so easy to lose interest.

    1. hey thanks Corben! edgy is the right word. writing with someone else might be more challenging than on own’s one though? I don’t think I could do that, too much scope for fallings out 😉

  4. Fabulous post and such an encouraging story for us all! I’m off to find Blindside now; I can’t believe I haven’t read it! Congratulations Jennie and well done.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s