My Debut Novel.
Since I finished my second creative writing course (Curtis Brown Creative aka CBC) and a few years since I decided to actually sit down and write a novel. My journey began with acceptance on a writing course (Faber Academy aka FA) which is both a very very long time ago, and a New York minute, depending on what mood you find me in.
I left CBC full of hope and mindful of how blessed I am to be able to afford the luxury of the experience. I have extensively shared my knowledge of both courses and remain a committed fan of all and every form of education.
Let me share with you – if you decide to write a novel. Your debut novel IS NEVER GOOD ENOUGH. No matter what you do, someone will find a reason to fault, and of course, they will be right.
After writing my book, then came the first challenge – what is my book? It isn’t crime, as no one gets murdered; it isn’t a typical romance in the traditional sense; and all the thrillers without murders seem to have covers of people where their clothes have been ripped off! Oh err. Yes, my novel has romance, and mental health, and there is a psychological aspect, but it straddles all of those areas. The word straddle leads one back into the thriller section. See, you have to be so careful. It dawned on me that in years no one had copied the Amazon bands of genre and said, ‘Here you are – we can only sell within these boundaries, either find me a murder or make it more mad!’
So if you are yet to finish your first draft, download the Amazon categories and make your novel fit, before you write another word. If that stifles your creativity, just think, you will sell a shed load more if it fits perfectly.
After publication of my debut on Kindle unexpected events happened which deserve a mention.
No 1. I received a ‘let’s nip this in the bud’ letter from a major publisher (legal speak for I’m going to come over there and rip your teeth out one by one if you don’t do as I say) suggesting I was imitating one of their novelists and objecting to my tweets!
I would have been concerned in some small way if I hadn’t been submitting my MS to anyone who could read for months. My outline and back cover synopsis had been submitted to many London agents and all at CB & their subsidiaries twice over the previous two years. Upon their request. My lovely debut novel ( 1st edition) was published on Kindle BEFORE their author's book was published.
So politely but firmly we agreed to disagree. It helped, the advice from my lovely legal expert, a Pinot swilling, posh, sweary, beer buddy who also runs a very non - sweary somber chambers. He knows who he is. I also sent him a copy of my MS after FA and CBC.
Another lesson learnt – copy and let someone you trust have copies of every one of your drafts and titles. When he suggested it at the beginning of my journey, the weekend before I started at FA, I thought he was mad – but listened; see – all forms of education. Oh, and you may believe you are a middle aged women tweeting to no one in particular in the middle of a night sweat but …
The other book – by the big publisher – with a great legal department – was tepidly received by the press and readers. My daughter read it and said it was OK but mine was better. She is smart.
I decided, to amend my title – to the original title. The one all the agents said they hated and I had loved. Limerence, Losing You Saving Me. I believe firmly that you have to be true to who you are.
So many people wished me well. I remain charmed. Two small publishers got in touch. My local library asked me to do a reading to their book group. I received an initial book order from the USA.
The reviews began. It’s actually worse than sending your MS off to agents, waiting for a response. So far so good. Amazon promoted my book via email. Then again. I experienced a Kindle Countdown Deal – that is a whole other blog.
The downsides have been few. People are truly delightful, critical but flattering with a few angry, snooty or just downright patronising. I have experienced the same nonsense in my past, regarding my accent, the size of my house, the schools my kids go to. I received a load of five star reviews. OK ten or so. But all five star. Then someone posted a horrid review. I spent a whole hour and checked the source, (grateful for years of IT training), it lead me to what I now know was one of my close friends. The review was written incognito. That’s life I guess. We did discuss it. There are no winners, just a deep sadness and regret that I checked. Maybe. The five stars keep coming, smattered with a few others, but it’s all good.
The book reached no 66 in June 2015 in the US Amazon Kindle chart, psychological thrillers, only for one day, but again another high. I sent out book copies and a press release in July. In return I have a few articles coming out this year and one of the books, (they have a slightly different cover), appeared for sale on eBay. You have to laugh.
The first print run sold out, then another. I crunched the numbers and began a trial offering book shops two for one deals. It has gone well as I only have one left. Upps. Am I making any money? Noooooo. Not in return for the time I have devoted. Even at 70% the earnings are Calcutta-like and pitifully poor.
But if I convert the joy of a stranger saying, “I read your book and I loved it. I couldn’t stop – my book club are all reading it for next month,” not much else beats that feeling. But feel good doesn’t pay the bills. It could be worse, I could have been drawn to yogi chanting, or knitting.
Where next? I got booked for a couple of writing slots, which were paid. I am half way through a first draft of book two. This time edited within an inch of its life and fitting a specific genre. Someone suggested I donate the earnings from my first book to Cancer Research and it suddenly seems like a lot of money. If I gave it away, that is. For me, the education of my first book has been time consuming but hugely rewarding. I have met some really wonderful people who have spent their time and effort helping and advising me, wishing me well, for no other reason than they can. I have always enjoyed helping people more than being helped. Maybe that is why my dreams tend to come true. Who would have thought, little old me, a paid writer, a published author…
(c) MC Browne
About Limerence, Losing You Saving Me
A contemporary thriller – with edge. A triangle of grief, mental health and unrequited love.
Set in New York, Thailand, Sydney and London, it is the summer of 2014. Juliet tells of leading a duplicitous life of appearing to be in a happy, successful marriage with the seemingly steady Mark, while beginning to obsess about her ex – lover, Luka. Interspersed throughout the book are the perspective of Juliet’s husband Mark, and the object of her obsession, Luka. Filling in the parts of Juliet’s life that she cannot see or understand. Can Juliet trust herself? Events unfold that change everyone’s lives forever.
The back cover
She Loves Her Husband
She is Obsessed by her Ex
She is a devoted Mother
She is risking Everything
She is Living Two Lives
She has to Choose One
Ultimately she has to make a choice: to accept an ultimatum or lose everything.
Limerence Losing You Saving Me : now unpublished but secondhand paperback are available from Amazon.co.uk and .com