Tuesday, 16 January 2018

From Far Off Whisper...

... to printed page
Author, John Jackson
Writing is a lonely business – or it can be.  For an over-gregarious soul like me that can be even more of an incentive NOT to write.
So why did I?
There's an old saying that if you hang around with talented people, then some of their talent might rub off on you.  Whether it did or not is not for me to say, but their keenness to write, and their joy in their successes certainly did.
I got to know several members of the Romantic Novelist's Association.  They were friendly and welcoming, but after a while, the drip started.
"Oh, go on, John. You know you want to give it a go!"
So I found myself up and e-mailing an application to their New Writers' Scheme at midnight on January 2nd.  Much to my surprise, I was accepted!
I had a story in mind.  It was my good fortune to have a couple of ancestors worthy of note (at least for me) lurking there, and one story leapt out at me.   My 5 x Great Grandfather was an Irish peer called Robert Rochfort, and he was a BAD MAN!  Eventually, the story in my mind changed into one I knew I wanted to write.
My first draft was completed inside 6 months, and ran to 95,000 words.  This went through the New Writers' Scheme, where an experienced author in my genre gave it a VERY thorough crit.
So I did a rewrite, and started the eternal search for a publisher or agent, and I have now built up a lovely collection of rejections.  I also had the manuscript edited again by a professional editor.  She was also a tremendous help.
Time passes, but then I had it looked at by an editor with Harper Collins.  She told me what the problem was.  It seems that all readers empathise with the first strong character they meet – and thus they HAVE to meet their hero early, otherwise they will put their emotional investment into the wrong character.
This was easy to understand, and to rectify.  I had to move things round with a good sized structural edit.
I was also advised that the max length for a first historical novel was 90,000 words.  So I cut and slashed about 10,000 words out of it.  This tightened up my writing, and it has meant that the book is a fast-paced read.
I was on the verge of self-publishing on Amazon (as many do), when I was made an offer by Crooked Cat Books.  Crooked Cat are one of the new breed of publishers.  They will publish your book, and provide you with a cover and an editor.  They will also manage your royalties, for a 4-Year period.
I did a lot of "due diligence" on Crooked Cat before signing with them, but heard nothing but praise from their signed authors; I can only agree with them.

Getting a book published is a long, slow process.  Crooked Cat were able to give me a publication date quickly, although this was several months away.  Meanwhile I had to go over the manuscript with their appointed editor.  Happily, an old friend of mine, Sue Barnard.  It was a pleasure working through the manuscript with her, and we got through the whole edit process in about a month.
I had my own ideas for the cover.  I knew there was a large portrait of Robert Rochfort at Belvedere.  Unfortunately, there was no suitable high-quality copy available.  Fortunately, the management at Belvedere were cooperation itself, and told me they were perfectly happy for me to arrange for someone to come in and take a suitable picture.  They didn't even charge for the picture's use.
My proof copy arrived, and I held it in my hands – and at that moment I KNEW I was an author!

Heart of Stone 

You can follow John on Facebook and Twitter


  1. Hi Angela,

    Thank you so much for allowing me onto your blog!


  2. You're very welcome John and it's good to see that book of yours out there for everyone to read. Thanks a lot for taking the time to visit.

  3. Phew, I admire you for your perseverance in getting your book published, I'd have never had that strength even though I've written novels, I've mostly sat on them.
    You have at least tried to market your book with the lovely AW, maybe I might give that a try, but to be honest, haven't the nerve. Robert H Fellows
    Oh and I'm not a robot - I hope.

  4. Hi Robert, thanks for visiting and for your very kind comments. All the best with your own books.