Claire King

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Posts Tagged ‘Jonathan Pinnock’

Interview with Jonathan Pinnock

Posted on: September 5th, 2011 by Claire - 12 Comments

CK: Hi Jonathan and congratulations on the publication of your first novel! Thanks for coming over to my blog, especially now you are famous, to be grilled about Mrs Darcy versus the Aliens and to answer other impertinent and only tenuously relevant questions.

JP: Thank you for having me. I will try to behave myself.

CK: Let’s start with the hardest question for many writers: In a nutshell, what is your book about?

JP: Well, the clue’s in the title. Sequel to Pride and Prejudice. With aliens. I would, however, like to point out that I’ve taken considerable care to make sure it fits seamlessly with the original (or, as I tend to refer to it, “the first book in the series”). Much of Wickham’s behaviour in P&P, for example, can be explained in terms of him being an undercover agent for the Department of Unusual Affairs. I’ve also devoted a fair degree of attention to developing a credible character arc for Austen’s characters. For instance, it seems clear to me that the only way Charlotte could cope with marriage to Mr Collins would be to become a laudanum addict. Especially if she happened to bump into Lord Byron.

CK: What is it like being sandwiched between Rosamunde Pilcher and Bella Pollen?

JP: Odd. I bet they’re both thinking “There goes the neighbourhood”. Actually, I had to look up Bella Pollen, because I’d never heard of her and she sounded like something out of a Roald Dahl story. Her books look quite interesting, though.

CK: You describe the work with Salt, in particular with your editor, as being published ‘well’. Has your experience changed the way you view the book market and the options for publication? What advice would you now give to other writers hoping to publish a novel?

JP: Good question. I don’t think it’s changed anything particularly in that – despite the fact that I ended up serialising the book online – I’ve always wanted a traditional publication with a good-looking book for sale in the high street. Somehow or other that actually came to pass, and I feel very lucky. My advice to a first-time novelist would still be to aim for a traditional publisher because that’s still where the credibility is. However, if you do decided to self-publish, be prepared to shell out for a decent cover and an editor. And be aware that before he made his million sales, John Locke was also a millionaire insurance salesman. If you want to achieve his level of sales, you probably also need his sales and marketing skills. Then again, even if you’re aiming to be traditionally published, you probably need a fair bit of self-marketing nous. I had to pull quite a few stunts to make myself noticed after all.

CK: Have you considered that the cover art for Mrs Darcy versus the Aliens could also represent the two sides of Jonathan Pinnock – Respectable Software Developer and ….well, that other one?

JP: Ha. That hadn’t occurred to me! I would however question the juxtaposition of “Respectable” with “Software Developer”. It’s hardly a proper job, you know.

CK: You initially published Mrs Darcy versus the Aliens on the internet, where it was available for free. What was your thinking behind this? When is it OK for writers to give away their work without payment?

JP: It was borne out of desperation, to be honest. I was fairly sure that what I was writing was worthy of publication, but it kept running up against the idea that it was just another of those Pride and Prejudice and Zombie things. So I thought, well, I’ve got a decent social networking footprint and I’ve been writing it in short chunks: let’s see if I can persuade a few people to read it as a serial. I still can’t really believe that the strategy worked.

As for when it’s OK for writers to give away their work without payment, that’s a much thornier issue. The intention with Mrs Darcy was always to take the serialisation down as soon as I got a deal, and that’s exactly what I did. I’m pretty certain that most of my regular readers from last year will buy the book, because that’s what I would do myself. Also, I don’t have a problem with giving my short stories away to ezines like Eclectica or indeed The View From Here, because I know they’re not going to be making loads of money out of me and I also know that they have credibility as a platform for getting my work out there. But once again, the long-term goal is to get a traditionally-published short story collection out – in fact, like the one I’ve got lined up for 2012! With the likes of the Huffington Post, however, the long-term advantage is a lot less clear cut, and I’m not entirely sure it’s a healthy trend.

CK: Do aliens exist?

JP: Whoa! Curve ball alert! I’m sure they do, although it’s a little surprising they haven’t bothered to come knocking yet. Either way, they probably don’t have tentacles.

CK: What are the top 3 reasons why people should click here and buy Mrs Darcy versus the Aliens right now?

JP: 1) It’s got aliens.
2) It’s got Lord Byron.
3) It’s the most fun you can have with a bonnet on.

You heard it here 5th! Thanks again, Jonathan and good luck with the book sales!

For more information and sample chapters, please click
Sample from the novel
Special Novel Publication Day episode
The Wickhampedia

No-one is buying debut novels

Posted on: May 24th, 2011 by Claire - 53 Comments

No-one is buying debut novels these days. Publishers don’t want them. Agents don’t want to take on new writers because they can’t sell debuts. Booksellers are closing down and the way forward is 99cent ebooks. It’s all doom and gloom out there. So why bother? The chances are infinitesimally slim that you will ever get the book deal your heart is set on. Why not go to the pub, or get comfy and watch re-runs of Friends instead?

‘They’ would have us believe that this is true. I wonder if the reason ‘They’ would have it that way is because ‘They’ are writing their own books and don’t want the competition? Maybe not. Maybe just because dismal news seems to sell. Unlike debut novels.

But wait!

For about 18 months now I’ve been using Twitter to meet and chat with writers all around the world. A few of them were already published writers, but most were like myself – scraping time to write in jam-packed days, entering writing competitions, occasionally getting shortlisted, or getting short pieces accepted in literary magazines. For me it’s been one of the best things I ever did in my writing career – in my Twitter stream I’ve found encouragement, wisdom, cheerleading, information, coaching, tips, consolation…and I hope I’ve managed to give back, which is in the spirit of Twitter.

And recently, in the last few months, some of the debut novelists on my twitter network are having breakthroughs.

These people are not different from you and me. They are not better educated. They are not richer. They are not people with industry connections. They are people who sat down and wrote. A lot. And re-wrote. They have families and day jobs and they are busy too. These people are getting agents and they are getting book deals. Three cheers for these people:

Maria Duffy, who signed with Sheila Crowley at Curtis Brown last autumn and has just signed a two book deal with Hachette Ireland. Her debut novel, Any Dream Will Do, will be published November 2011

D.J. Kirkby, who writes fiction and non-fiction and after self publishing her first novel, Without Alice, has just signed up with Judith Murray at Greene & Heaton

Liz Fenwick recently signed with Carol Blake at  Blake Friedman and signed with Orion for her debut – A Cornish House – and a second novel…

Claire LeGrand (Who is 24, by the way!) has just sold her debut novel to Simon & Schuster

Kate Brown who just signed with Jamie Coleman at Toby Eady Associates for her debut historical novel.

Mariam Kobras who just signed her contract with Buddhapuss Ink independent publishers for her debut contemporary romance The Distant Shore

Kerry Hudson whose debut novel TONY HOGAN BOUGHT ME AN ICE-CREAM FLOAT BEFORE HE STOLE MY MA comes out from Chatto & Windus in summer 2012

Claire McGowan whose debut novel sold in February to Headline and will be published in 2012. See her blog post about living the dream here.

Jonathan Pinnock whose debut Mrs Darcy versus the Aliens is out this September from Proxima Books

Rebecca Emin whose children’s novel New Beginnings will be published next year by Grimoire books.

Hip, hip, HOORAY! And many congratulations to all these writers!

I’m NOT saying that it’s easy. The market is difficult at the moment and I know several brilliant writers who have got great agents and are still waiting for a publisher to buy their book. That must be so frustrating after that magic moment of finding an agent raises your hopes…But what they aren’t doing is sitting around moaning about it. They are all, without exception, writing the next novel.

And as well as those people there are still many of my twitter friends submitting to agents, getting rejections, revising and submitting again. And of course there are those still climbing the first draft mountain. But I’m convinced that many of them will succeed because it’s clear they are determined to do so.

So, what’s stopping you?  Write. Write today. And come and find us on Twitter – make friends, watch others succeed and be encouraged (keep an eye on the #writegoodnews hashtag). Or occasionally drown your sorrows together.

Claire King on Twitter

 

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