With the release date for The Little French Guesthouse less than a fortnight away, I found myself thinking about its long journey to publication. I started to write a long, rambling post about it and then thought, crikey, that will take forever and nobody’s going to want to read it! So here it is in a quick(ish) nutshell:
Sometime in the mid-2000s: I get the idea for an opening scene to a humorous chick-lit novel in my head. I’m not writing at this point in my life (young family and job = no time and too tired) so in my head is where it stays.
Summer 2009: On holiday in France, we stay in a gite in an outbuilding to the main house where the owners live. I feel a pull as I leave, as though I belong there – which I know is ridiculous. But the feeling stays with me, and I realise it’s my story idea that belongs there (or an imaginary version of there).
Autumn 2009: Can I start writing again? Do I have the time or energy? Maybe I could get that opening scene down and see what happens. With no real plot outline, the floodgates open and the characters take over.
Autumn 2011: I tell myself to step away from the keyboard, quit with the obsessive editing-and-polishing, and send it somewhere. It’s twenty years since I last tried to get published. Naively, I start sending the opening chapters to agents, entering into a depressing cycle of posting it off, waiting weeks or months for a rejection letter, sending it somewhere else.
January 2013: It’s taken eighteen months, on and off, to be rejected by just half a dozen agents. I’ll be old and grey at this rate! I decide the manuscript should take a long rest, and I go back to writing shorter, straightforward romances (a genre I’d tried in my twenties).
Spring 2015: I’ve now had two ‘sweet’ romances published by a U.S. digital press, but my humorous chick-lit novel is still calling to me. I re-read it and realise how much I’ve learned about writing (and the publishing world) since I wrote that first draft. It definitely needs a serious rewrite, and that’s what it’s going to get.
July 2015: Done! Now to find a home for it. I research very carefully and decide to submit it to Bookouture, who have a growing reputation as a dynamic digital publisher.
September 2015: I get an e-mail from Bookouture. They love the ‘voice’ and the opening, but they’re not convinced about the next couple of chapters. They might read further if I’m willing to rewrite those. I’m willing.
October 2015: I resubmit, all fingers and toes crossed.
November 2015: Bookouture e-mail to tell me they would like to publish it! Not only that, but they are keen on a sequel. I’m over the moon! I’m also grateful that, by sheer chance, I’ve just handed my notice in at work, meaning I will be able to really concentrate on my writing after Christmas.
December 2015: Structural/content edits will be more rigorous than I thought. I’m trying to wind everything up at my job, too. Oh, and Christmas is nearly open us. Aaargh!
January 2016: More content edits. Having finished at work, at least now I have more time to get on with them. But there is a sequel to write . . .
February 2016: I get seriously stuck into writing the sequel. Then the copy edits for The Little French Guesthouse arrive. When they’re done, it’s the line edits. In the meantime, the book is now available for pre-order at Amazon.
March 2016: The Little French Guesthouse is now available on NetGalley and reviews begin to trickle in. To offset the nail biting, I get to see the print copies of the book. I’ve never had a book in paperback form before. Exciting!
And to top off the month, I also get the news that Bookouture have decided to do an audio version! Woohoo!
April 2016: Busy with the sequel and with answering blog interviews and writing guest posts, I’m exhausted . . . but The Little French Guesthouse is due to release at the end of this month, on the 28th. It may have been a long time coming, but it’s been worth the journey, to find the right publisher and to get Emmy’s story just how it should be!