Sunday, 18 December 2011

I have a book deal!

The Writing Bit
This week, I have some rather wonderful news: I'm delighted to announce that my debut novel, The Things You Didn't Know, is to be published by Simon & Schuster in 2013 as part of a two-book deal. I am thrilled to bits about this, as I'm sure you can imagine!  So my message this week is, don't give up! This novel has had long journey, and as the publishing climate has become more and more difficult, I began to wonder if my beloved characters would ever see the light of day.

So I thought it might be interesting if I were to outline this novel's journey:
After completing the novel, then titled Footsteps, to the best of my ability, I began to seek representation. I was lucky enough to receive an offer very quickly, although I was unable to take it up because the agent concerned was about to go on maternity leave. However, this gave me the confidence to keep approaching agents. I then received a number of rejections and began to wonder if the first offer had been a fluke. But then I received two offers of representation in the same week!

I met both agents, and chose Kate Shaw (then of Alexander Aitken, but now of The Viney Agency)  because she had ideas for the book and suggested revisions - including a major structural change - that I just knew were good.

So, I spent around seven or eight months doing these revisions, and after a bit more tinkering, we felt the novel was ready to go, and it was sent out to several major publishers. It didn't sell on that occasion, but came very close indeed, with three of the editors saying that they'd been very tempted, four wanting to see my next novel and one - oh joy - actually taking my agent and me out to lunch. This particular editor had reservations about one of the characters, and so I set to work on more revisions, more subtle this time, perhaps rather too subtle, as it would later transpire, because Kate felt I hadn't quite gone far enough with the changes. We talked about sending the book out with the new title to the smaller publishers, but then decided to put it aside for a while and concentrate on a second book.

I put the manuscript away for a whole year, during which time I wrote a radio play (currently under consideration with the BBC) and played around with a few different ideas for my second novel.  When I looked at The Things You Didn't Know again, I saw things I hadn't seen before, and did yet more rewriting. I was still unsure about a particular section, so I sent that section to a freelance editor for some professional feedback. Getting a fresh pair of eyes on your ms can be invaluable - you become far too close to it after a while. The editor made a brilliant observation about the order of events - by rearranging things slightly, that character's story would be much clearer and more logical. Hurrah! I knew this was the right thing to do, and I spent the whole weekend busily re-ordering and rewriting, then rereading for 'continuity' errors.

The novel went out again, and bingo, a two-book deal with the wonderful Simon & Schuster! I couldn't be more thrilled and excited!

So, if you're trying to get your novel published, my advice is: don't be in too much of a hurry - if a major revision will improve your novel, take the time and do it. Consider putting your work aside for several months so you can view it more objectively. Consider obtaining professional  feedback on your work and be open to suggestions, (only if they chime with you, though) even if it means a lot of work, and finally, don't give up!

The Reading Bit
No reading bit, this week, I'm afraid. We've been busy and preoccupied with a family bereavement - my father-in-law died rather suddenly earlier in the week following a fall just a week before. This has obviously had a huge impact on the family, and things are in a state of flux at the moment.  It's very strange to have had the good news about the book deal in the same week as this very sad news about my father-in-law.  
Next week's blog will appear a little earlier than usual - hopefully midweek - with The Reading Bit covering  my 'Top Reads of 2011'.

The Food Bit
No food bit either for the same reason (see above). However, watch this space for some gorgeous, vegan-friendly Christmas recipes in the next few days - it'll be a bumper crop: a wonderful nut roast, some apricot and walnut stuffing and the nicest and most festive red cabbage with apple you have ever tasted!  Trust me!

For more about me and my work, check out my website:


  1. Congratulation! So, so happy for you xxx

  2. susan elliot wright18 December 2011 at 17:01

    Thanks Nettie! xx

  3. One very significant contributory factor in your success in securing a publishing deal, Susan, is that you're a bloody good writer!
    (You can't say that about yourself, of course, so I thought I'd do it for you.)
    best wishes and many congratulations,
    Martyn x

  4. Susan Elliot Wright18 December 2011 at 18:22

    Martyn, you're a sweetie! Thanks so much! Always nice when someone (who is also a bloody good writer) says something lovely.

    I still haven't read Flip, though fully intend to (despite having never been a teenage boy!) I've been hanging on to see if I could get to a reading so I could buy it and say hello at the same time. It's clearly doing brilliantly and I have my fingers crossed for all the prizes I'm sure it'll win! x

  5. Congratulations on the novel deal. You must be so pleased. The nearest I've got is a publisher saying he wanted to publish mine but had to persuade his partner to like it. He didn't! Shucks.

  6. Thanks Fran! I'm thrilled to bits, obviously. And it just goes to show that even after a difficult journey, it's possible. Just hang on in there, my friend.

  7. Thanks for sharing the sequence of events leading up to your publishing deal. It was so reassuring to read that there are still opportunities out there for writers who have talent and not fame/notoriety/contacts. Am looking forward to seeing The Things You Didn't Know (great title) in shops and, of course, buying a copy!

  8. Susan Elliot Wright19 December 2011 at 11:51

    Thanks Janet! I really hope I can help reassure people that it DOES still happen, even in this difficult climate - you just have to keep the faith!

  9. ooh! Just read this. Many congratulations on your book deal. That's fabulous news!

  10. susan elliot wright5 January 2012 at 12:20

    Thanks Alicia!