I like to think that the as yet bit of as yet unpublished won’t be forever. But the more time passes, the more the publishing industry seems to contract with the recession and the harder it seems to be to get a foot in a door that’s barely open a crack. Sometimes I wonder who I have to sleep with or murder in order to tick enough boxes on the “marketability” questionnaire. I’m not a celebrity and I haven’t been on Big Brother.
I’ve been writing since I was a child. I wrote my first novel (an attempt at crime, as it happens) at the age of about fourteen – I’ve no idea of the word count as it was all laboriously hand-written in a rather fancy notebook. But more followed and I like to think I’ve learned along the way. I write fantasy too and have managed to get a YA fantasy novel as far as an acquisitions meeting, but persuading the marketing departments to part with hard cash is always the stumbling block.
My crime/psychological thriller novel Hamelin’s Child was long-listed in the Debut Dagger, but even that doesn’t open doors. It’s had some great praise from editors and agents alike, but it gets harder and harder to persuade those-who-hold-the-purse-strings to take a chance on an unknown. And yet crime fiction appears to be booming; the bookshelves are full of it and the public is buying it.
So what can be done in the meantime? I’m building a “profile”. I’ve entered the Alibi short story competition. I go to festivals and conferences when finances permit. I network on Facebook, though I’ve never quite got to grips with Twitter. Authonomy is another good place to be – HarperCollins electronic slushpile (www.authonomy.com) has its drawbacks but it’s a great place to upload work for feedback and meet like-minded people. I’ve also had a go with Webook’s PageToFame (www.webook.com) – an American site that’s somewhere to show off work and get an insight into the x factor needed to hook a reader in the first paragraph or page of a novel.
Other than that, I guess I’ll have to think about infamy rather than fame! How long do you get for murder? Could I take my laptop inside with me?