Is there no end to the uplifting author stories in this blog?
It seems not ...
Remember I told you about Shelley Harris's triumph at Authonomy Live at the Festival of Writing in York?
Well, I'm delighted to pass on the news that Shelley's book had several publishers slavering over its potential and she has now signed a two book deal with W&N (who also published my first two books).
You can read Shelley's amazing journey in her own words here on WordCloud.
Exciting, or what?
(What d'you mean, you're not already on WordCloud? It's only the best writing community on t'internet - and it's free to join.)
I first started working with Roger in October 2008. His novel, Miracle in Carvoeiro, needed a lot of heavy engineering and there were issues in almost every area of plotting and characterisation, but there was a kernel of something very special there. Two weeks later and after a lengthy email exchange, he was back with a complete redraft, asking for a second read, which I completed as well as posting the amended MS back to him.
By December 08, I was still discussing polishing and pitching of Book 1, but had meanwhile received Roger's second book for editing. He'd hopped genres and produced a very good Da Vinci Code-esque book. I thought The Eye of Sayf-Udeen had serious potential - it was different enough to provide a fresh angle on the formula - and was far better written IMO than Dan Brown's books. I was seriously impressed at the way Roger had learnt the lessons from previous feedback and incorporated them into his new writing.
So, by this time, Roger was pitching Book 1, editing Book 2 and already talking about Book 3. More emails and in Jan I sent him the report of The Eye of Sayf-Udeen. In Feb, he completed the first draft of his third book. Artcore is a thriller set in the gay scenes in Amsterdam and Brighton. Once again, I thought that his book should be theoretically publishable once he'd completed an edit.
By March, he had self-published the first book on Lulu and I was working on the critique for Artcore as well as a reread for The Eye of Sayf-Udeen. I sent him an email re the latter, saying,
'Roger – I love it! Huge respect and kudos to you – I really feel you are on the brink of coming up with a publishable MS.'
In April 2009, I pitched The Eye of Sayf-Udeen to the Writers' Workshop for the free read they offer for books recommended by editors as having commercial potential.
They agreed with me ... YIPPEE!
... and pitched the book themselves to a well-known agent. YIPPEE!
The agent felt the market for the genre was over saturated. BOO!
Roger decided he'd carry on pitching to other agents himself.
May 2009 and I was editing the redraft of Artcore.
July 2009 found me editing the 3rd draft of Artcore
Book 4, Sylvia, arrived on my desk in October 2009.
Alas. I had told Roger I was convinced he'd get there in the end as long as he kept on writing and pitching. Sadly, with this book, he seemed to have forgotten that each book needed to be better than the last; that he needed to focus on quality, not just quantity. Although his writing skills has improved beyond recognition, I felt this was his weakest book yet.
With characteristic resilience, Roger took the criticism on the chin. I told him I thought he needed to slow down and do some more reading in order to prepare for his next book, which we had already discussed.
After lots more discussions, I received the first draft of The Zarathustra Principle in March 2010. This was Roger's most ambitious book yet. Set in Cologne in the 1920s, it told the story of a relationship between a young agnostic man from an Orthodox Jewish family and a fellow student, the two united by a shared love for Nietzsche. That scenario, and the central European setting in the days before Nazism took a hold, has been explored in literature before but what made Roger's book stand out was that there was a strong spiritual element in the form of a latter day prophet.
What worried me was that this unique quality was both the book's greatest strength and its fundamental weakness. We all know how publishers like to pigeon hole books and my concern was that this one was straddling genres. But damn, it was good!
Meanwhile, Roger and I finally had the chance to meet face to face in York. Later in April, I received the second draft of The Zarathustra Principle for editing.
And now? Roger is still pitching his previous books and has amassed a sizable pile of rejection slips.
Think 'water' ... Think 'duck's back' ... He's published all four (neither of us count Sylvia) on Lulu and he's cooking his next book.
It sounds as though it will incorporate his undoubted strengths.
It sounds as though it will avoid both the genre-straddling and the too similar/too different conundrum that has dogged his previous books.
I know it will be very well-written.
It sounds like this could be the one ...!
By now, you're probably asking yourself why I'm sharing all this with you. Maybe you're exhausted just thinking about Roger's prodigious output and his determination to keep on writing and pitching.
'After all,' you might say, 'Roger still hasn't fulfilled his ambitions in spite of all that incredibly hard work.'
But there's the point, y'see. Roger's writing skills, which always had genuine potential as far as I'm concerned, have gone from strength to strength. At times his creations have tortured him to the point of obsession, but most of the time he has derived wonderful satisfaction from the creative process. He is also determined and persistent, rolling with the punches and never allowing rejections to make him lose sight of his goals.
I'M CONVINCED THAT THE DAY WILL COME WHEN I HAVE A GEN-U-INE ROGER HARDY BOOK ON MY SHELVES THAT HAS THE LOGO OF A MAJOR PUBLISHING COMPANY ON THE SPINE.
I wanted you to hear his name here first!
Incidentally, if you have a book that's ready to be released into the world, you might be interested in the Getting Published Day this October, which should give you many of the tools you need.