Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Amanda Brooke Take Over

A little while ago both Claire and I had the pleasure of reading Another Way to Fall by Amanda Brooke. We loved it so much we asked Amanda to take part in our Take Over posts and she said Yes! So without further ado I hand over the reigns to the blog and leave you in the capable hands of Amanda Brooke.


The era of the e-book has well and truly arrived and along with it the seemingly endless opportunities for writers to have their work published.  It’s hard to imagine now but in 2010 when I started writing Yesterday’s Sun, the idea of self-publishing didn’t enter my thoughts.  I had limited knowledge of the publishing industry but I knew enough to steer clear of those dubious companies who would happily take my money in exchange for vague promises and a few printed copies of my beloved novel to sell or give away to friends and family.  As things turned out for me, I was very, very lucky.  I beat the odds and landed a publishing deal but I can’t help wondering what would have become of my first novel if I had gone down the self-publishing route.

I don’t doubt that with the abundance of advice and guidance online, I would be able to self-publish if Yesterday’s Sun had been left languishing on my computer for the last three years but what would my first novel look like?  Would it have remained that first draft I had sent off to literary agents or would I have paid good money up front to have someone critique my work first?  Would I have paid an editor to go through it with a fine toothed comb?  The answer is probably not.  I might have asked a few select friends to read it through and then soaked up all that positive feedback (what friends have the courage to trample on a fledgling author’s dreams?) but that would be about it.  And I’m guessing there are a lot of writers out there who would do the same, not because they’re confident in their work but because they’re not yet confident enough to invest real money in their talents.

So here’s what did happen to that ‘perfect’ first draft I’m pretty sure I would have self-published.  I submitted my manuscript to a few literary agents and was thrilled when Luigi Bonomi got in touch.  He was interested in representing me but there was a caveat, my book needed more work, actually a lot of work.  I’m the first to admit that I was a little resistant to the idea of pulling apart my novel but it didn’t take long to realise that I would be mad not to take the advice of a well-respected and experienced agent.  If I got this right, I’d be within touching distance of my dream.  So I cancelled Christmas and set about completely rewriting about two thirds of my story.  Thankfully my hard work paid off and Luigi loved the second draft and it was ready to be sent off to publishers.  A publishing deal with HarperCollins followed but the rewriting was far from over.  There was a little more work on the structure and some pretty hefty changes to some of the characters and it was months later before my editor was ready to start on the line by line edits.

What I ended up with was a novel that bears little resemblance to that first manuscript I sent to Luigi but I can honestly say that with each pass through I knew my novel was getting better and better, good enough in fact to be selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club.  If you’ve read Yesterday’s Sun then you might be interested to know that the first draft didn’t include any significant back-story to the moondial, Holly made far more journeys into the future and she had no trouble at all holding her baby or even speaking to Tom.  And as for Billy, he was only a bit player and not the unassuming hero he was destined to become.  With my second novel Another Way to Fall, the process was pretty much the same.  That first draft didn’t make me cry but my goodness the final version did!

So if you are planning on self-publishing then the hardest thing is to believe in your work enough to invest in it.  Find the right people to critique your work and be prepared for constructive feedback and act upon it.  Oh, and be prepared for the editing to be far more than simply spotting the typos.  It can mean a lot of extra work on that novel you thought you’d already finished but no-one knows your work better than you do and that puts you in the perfect position to unravel your story and build it up stronger and better than before.  Be brave.
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  1. Thanks for taking the time to write up an amazing post Amanda :-)

  2. Thanks Shona, it's been lovely getting involved in your wonderful blog and thank you again for the amazing review of Another Way to Fall x