Friday, 6 March 2009

The reality of getting published

BubbleCow is all about helping writers get published. In addition to our editorial services we offer advice (lots of advice) to writers looking to get their books into print. One of the avenues we use to talk to writers is Twitter (I could go on…) and last week I put out an appeal for unpublished writers willing to complete a brief interview for this blog.

This is just one response from Oliver Mell.

Tell me a bit about your book and why you decided to enter it into the spinetinglers competition?

My book is entitled Godless. Briefly; a soldier is sent home early from a tour in Iraq after an accident. He tries to make some sense of his life and gets a job in a local nightclub as a bouncer. Here he witnesses an assault that draws him into an underworld of vampires, lust and blood. It’s 90,000 words long split up into three parts. You can read the prologue and 1st chapter on my blog or if you are a member of Authonomy the first three chapters are there. I found spinetinglers on the web, after looking at some of the work they had posted online I decided to enter a competition, my work is now up for possible publication depending on how it does in the unpublished book of the year, I have to resubmit in July. They gave me good initial feedback and they give good criticism for anything you submit including scripts (which are my real passion).

Have you submitted your novel to any publishers and agents? If so how did you cope with their reactions?

I haven’t' submitted to an agent. I wanted to get some interest in my work first (it's something I will do when I can afford to and when I find the right one). I did send my work out to a lot of companies before I found spinetinglers. I got a few flat out rejections, not a lot of people look at unsolicited work. I anticipated it and just moved on. Some companies were good enough to give some useful pointers; I try to deal positively with criticism. I even got a few complaints about my content when my blog first went up from some Catholics who read my extract. I apologised for offending them and put up a warning, but it didn't bother me, I've never tried to please everyone.

What is your writing process? How do you fit it around real life?

Godless took five years from start to finish. In that time I had my daughter and got married and changed my job three times, so the writing process had to change. When I was just doing door work I used to finish work about three o'clock on the weekends, come home and write till about five in the morning then pass out and sleep all day. You just can't do that with a family and a day job. I went through a period where I dedicated one day of the week to writing and reading, My wife took our daughter round to the grandparents and I spent 7-8 hours working solid. It was affective, but exhausting. Now I'm a self employed personal trainer in the day. Even though I'm pretty busy, I make time for one hours reading and one hours writing a day (mostly scripts, but I am working on another novel). The PT job means I have to read anyway and it's amazing how reading nonfiction can help with your research, I feel a lot sharper and a lot more creative.

What do you think is the biggest hurdle that faces new writers looking to secure a publishing contract?

I think almost every writer I have ever met (me included) is their worst own enemy when it comes to publication. Either they can't take constructive criticism or they are too scared of rejection to really push for publication. I might not be the best one to give out advice, Godless isn't even published, but I feel writing it made me a better writer than I was five years ago, that might be the best advice to getting published, put the hours in reading and put twice the hours in writing.