My guest this week is Author, Linda Chamberlain. I am sure you will enjoy reading about her year in 2014. I hope my own successes are as good as Linda’s! As with any author, the way forward is never in a straight line. Please do comment and leave messages for Linda’s reply.
Producing a book is a little like a having a baby. It begins with some strenuous and emotional activity and after a few tiring months you have something that’s very precious.
Like all new authors I think my book is prettier than any others conceived and I happily show it off like a proud mother.
A year ago I was putting the finishing touches to my creation. It already had a name – The First Vet – but it was missing something important. The ending. It was a touching story of love and corruption, a blend of fact and fiction that was full of horses and history, but I was tiring and wasn’t getting on with the task. I was saved from this dreadful state of affairs by a crazy writing project called National Novel Writing Month , which brings authors together online for a mad dash to write 40,000 words.
By December it was done – plus another 40,000 words of another novel. I was on top of the world. The next few months were devoted to my new project while The First Vet was put to one side. It was important to read it again in a couple of months so it could be judged it with fresh eyes.
There was hardly a day without writing – thanks to being a bad sleeper I have more time available than a lot of people. By Spring, my book was ready to be seen by other people. A few chapters were sent to some friends; I got some feedback and made some adjustments. Agents and publishers should have come next but an unknown writer struggles to be taken seriously in spite of a background in journalism.
Whoever published it, the writer is responsible for much of the sales and marketing so why shouldn’t I do the whole project myself? So this summer I decided to become an indie author but first had a meeting with Liz Bailey, an experienced writer published by Penguin, who would become my editor. She puts her own backlist on Amazon and was a good source of reassurance and information.
She is an expert on the Georgian period – the setting of my novel – so she was a good choice. Her report gave me some editing to do but also filled me with confidence.
‘Wow, I love this story!’ she said. ‘It’s erudite, literate and fascinating. It flows and you brought the environment to life as well as the world of the horse. The narrator voice is clear and consistent and works really well. Your knowledge of the subject permeates the whole book.’
The romance was sensual but chaste, she said, and the central message of the book was inspiring.
It centres on one of this country’s first vets who was an animal right’s campaigner before anyone had coined the phrase. He was ahead of his time but his work is being rediscovered today. I’m a romantic novelist so of course the love story is central but my protagonist’s battle with the veterinary establishment gives the book some pace.
Then came other tasks that conventionally published authors are denied – sorting out the cover and finding an art director. I also needed to work up a platform on line. The first two were fine; the latter is still being grappled with! I had a cover in mind – something dramatic like War Horse by Michael Morpurgo. My two actors in period costume and a horse walked up a hill to a nearby beauty spot famous for its sunsets and thanks to photographer, Will Jessel, we got the most amazing shot.
It was September by now and pressure was mounting because I wanted to launch the book soon. My laptop gave up on me and work stopped. It gave up three times, on one occasion it locked the book up. I was getting stressed; my family knew I was irritable.
Once the book was freed and the lap top mended, I set about formatting the book for Amazon. It was going to be a paperback and ebook on Kindle. It wasn’t easy but, if this writer can do it, anyone can.
This month I pressed the button that said publish. My book was on line. My blog helped to sell it, my Facebook friends rushed to support and my first week as an author saw nearly 100 sales. There was also my first author talk to prepare for – nerve-wracking but successful.
Amazon reviews started to come in – ‘A great story with a thought-provoking message.’
‘One of those books you can’t put down.’
I’d always wanted to write a page-turner. I was beginning to think I had succeeded.
Linda Chamberlain equine blog is on www.nakedhorse.org.uk
Her book The First Vet is now on Amazon.