Claire King

Claire King Edited Choices (10 of 10)

Posts Tagged ‘Success’

On not being the most anticipated…

Posted on: December 29th, 2014 by admin - 13 Comments

I was reading my twitter feed this morning, which suddenly seemed to be flooded with links to articles listing the Most Anticipated Debut Novels of 2015! the 10 Authors to watch in 2015! and What’s going to be hot in 2015! and whilst I’m always happy to see authors being bigged-up and their books recognised and given a leg up in the sea of new releases, I couldn’t help but feel for the many debut authors who might be hoping to see their books on those lists and who are now feeling the pangs of disappointment because they are not.

I remember how, as a debut novelist in 2013, at the end of 2012 these lists were coming out and I came to the realisation that even though the launch of my first novel was MY most hotly anticipated moment in 2013, I wasn’t going to be making much of a splash in literary circles. At least not in that way.

I’ve learned a lot in the last couple of years, and I made a comment on twitter to the novelists not on the lists about how it doesn’t really matter at all…and ended up having a lovely (backstage) chat with author Sarah Perry, whose debut novel After Me Comes the Flood was published this year (to much critical acclaim, by the way).

The thing is, MOST new authors go through this. MOST of us are not the most anticipated. But if your pool of debut authors is limited to you and the ones everyone is shouting about on twitter and in the newspapers it’s very easy to feel like the poor relation. It’s very easy to have your perspective skewed and your excitement diminished by things that, quite frankly, don’t really affect you that much at all.

Other people, family and friends, may unwittingly add to this feeling, because they are excited for you and they too don’t see how your book is, in fact, a drop in an ocean. Hopefully you are able to have an honest conversation with your agent and your publishers, because they have done this all before with other debuts before you, and are face to face on a daily basis with the vagaries and the difficulties of the publishing industry.

In 2013 I was lucky enough to have other authors to talk to, like Vanessa Gebbie whose debut The Coward’s Tale had been launched the year before mine, and Kate Worsley whose debut She Rises launched the same time The Night Rainbow did, also with Bloomsbury. But you’ll still need to find a way to manage this yourself.

I was going to say you can’t compare yourself to other people, or compare your book to other books, but of course you can and you probably will, in all these ways and more:

World of buzzwords

The list goes on and on and on and you can let it drive you crazy. In fact you probably have to take a conscious decision *not* to let it drive you crazy, not to diminish the pure unbridled joy of signing that book contract a year or two before (I can hear all the unpublished writers out there yelling, “Seriously? You got published! Be grateful!”).

In the end – in publishing just as in life – the noise and the superlatives and the LISTS and the rankings, they detract from what is important. From what is important to YOU.

Do you really care if you didn’t make a top ten list? Does that spoil it for you? (Because it’s not necessarily an indication of how well your book is going to sell, you know?) Does it truly matter to you if someone else’s book has more buzz around it than yours, or more marketing budget? Would those things have mattered to you when you were pitching your novel for publication? Have your publishers let you down? Have you let yourself down? Has Lady Luck let you down? Or is it, in the end, just buzz and fluff that can be the icing on the cake for those who get on the lists and win the prizes? It’s not as if you still don’t have the cake itself.

For all the debut novelists of 2015, I have three pieces of advice:

1)  Don’t lose perspective of where you are, what you have achieved, the dreams that you have brought to life.

2) Keep on hoping, but focus on the things you can affect: Writing the next book. Reading other people’s books. Improving your work.

3) Talk to other people. Talk to other authors about their experiences, because all of this is the tip of the publishing iceberg and after all this launch business dies down, what you are left with is this – you’re a writer, and somewhere, some readers are already anticipating your next book. You need to sit down and write it.

Happy New Year to you all, and may 2015 be wonderful for you in a myriad of unexpected ways. xxx

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


What are you if you don’t win?

Posted on: December 12th, 2010 by Claire - 13 Comments

<<<<< Not This.

I like putting my writing ‘out there’ to see what happens, so when a competition organiser recently said that they discouraged those who had not done well in the competition from saying so publicly because it would be “detrimental to their credibility as writers.” It got me thinking about our responses to a lack of success.  And I do mean that, and not ‘failure’ because – for me – failure would be if you never entered the competition in the first place. Or if you didn’t bother to write the piece at all.

This is what I think:

If you enter a competition and don’t win, it means that someone else did. Maybe their writing was better than yours, or perhaps just more to the taste of the judges, who knows?

If you get a rejection from an agent (or indeed several) it does not mean your novel is shit. Your novel might be shit or it might be fabulous. It could just be part of the numbers game. We can all hold our hands up and proudly say ‘I have been rejected.’ Can’t we?

If your manuscript is turned down by a publisher (or indeed several) it does not mean you are unpublishable. Again, it could just be part of the numbers game, or a quirk of timing, a matter of taste or being pipped to the post for that particular list.

I’m not suggesting we should arrogantly assume we are literary geniuses (ii?) and that all of these judges and agents and publishing houses are crazy-mad to have not seen our pure talent. Just that, statistically speaking, you can’t win ’em all. Dust it off, brush up if necessary, send it out again.

This applies also to:

Sports; Job Promotions; Love; Twitter Followers.

But not to:

Lottery Tickets; Bingo; Slot Machines.

So, if you have recently entered a competition, and not won, you can tell us here. We’ll still think you’re incredible.

You can’t get there from here…

Posted on: May 13th, 2010 by Claire - 4 Comments

One of the axioms I use frequently in my day job (helping people collaborate to achieve their goals) is this:

“You can’t get there from here, but you can get here from there.”

What it suggests is that if you want the future to be a certain way, you have to picture yourself already there, and then work out how you got there from where you are now. Until you have that vision crystallised, until you can feel and smell and touch and taste your future…your path is foggy and directionless. Until you have anticipated the obstacles that lie between you and what you want, and have thought of a plan to overcome them, then you risk getting derailed at the first sign of trouble.

I fell off horses a lot when I was a child, because I was planning on being an olympic show-jumper one day. These days it’s a fabulous book deal I’m picturing in my future… OK, so I don’t have a crystal ball, and we all know the odds are slim, but trying is fun (if sometimes painful) and even if you don’t quite hit the exact goal you’d pictured*, I think you manage to get much further towards it than if you’d never built that beautiful future vision.

For me it’s the same with my writing. I almost always have to start by writing the end. I need to know and feel where I’m going with the story. It’s the feet touching moondust, looking back at a tiny earth. It’s the point to which everything leads. And I can’t get there from here. I have to get here from there.

Of course other writers do it completely differently. Many start at the very beginning and write in a linear way, seeing where it takes them.

Are you for visions, serendipity or a bit of both?

(*I did pretty well in riding competitions but never became an olympic show-jumper)