When the voices in my head got so loud they needed to be heard I sat down and wrote a Young Adult story. I thought that was where my voice was so I gave it all I had. My first manuscript was quickly hashed out and revised at least eight times. I proudly sent it off to six different publishers and sat back waiting for the postie to pass my gate every day with good news.
The rejections flowed in. I was upbeat at first but after the last one I was devastated. Everyone liked my story and I had already completed book two and was onto book three. I couldn’t understand where I had gone wrong. I used the services of an editor as well as a critique group so it was a major blow to my confidence.
Neither of us made it to the top twenty one but the contest taught me a lot. I had a good voice, my hero was a little bit too alpha but he was redeemable. I had some lovely comments about 'The Farmer Wants a Wife.' I was glad I had made the effort.
Maybe this is the genre I should be writing I thought.
I went back to the computer and after thinking about it I started another story. I wasn’t ready to turn Magnus into the nice guy. I still loved him as an overbearing rich hunk who was used to getting exactly what he wanted on his terms.
So I wrote about Libby, the single struggling mum who finds herself the new owner of not one but two outback stations. Taming the Outback was submitted to Mills and Boon and rejected. I found it hard to understand what I was doing wrong.
One night I ranted on Facebook. Not entirely professional but I was frustrated. "Yes you have a great voice but this story is not developed enough." How many times was I going to hear this?
What did that mean? I asked my dear Facebook family and got many answers. I was still none the wiser though until I got a message from a freelance editor Annie Seaton. She asked me a few questions and offered to look at my work.
The next day she told me what I was doing wrong. Nothing major, but obviously enough to mark me as a new writer. Another rewrite of Taming and it was ready to submit.
This time I decided to try different publishers that seemed to be doing well, had great writers and I submitted to eight in total. That’s when the email stalking started. If anyone tells you it’s a fallacy --don’t believe them. I checked mine every few minutes, sad but true. Within twenty-four hours I had three contracts sitting on my desk. I was over the moon and I'm sure everyone could hear me screaming. Thank God for Annie.
Before I accepted the Breathless Press offer, I emailed a few of their writers to make sure I was signing with the right publishing house. They were only too pleased to help out. The publisher is always available and my editor is awesome. She is making me a better writer and I appreciate the help every day.
What happened to my young adult you might ask. Well, I had trouble letting it go so I sent it to Annie. She in turn sent it to a freelance editor in USA who deals with primarily this genre. Apparently, and they both agree, this is where my voice is. I was shocked because of the rejections earlier but after working with an editor who knows her stuff I understand where I went wrong and how to fix it.
Witchling is due out in time for Christmas in print and ebook and Changling, book two in the series has just contracted. Book three and four are almost complete. Lycaon Press are a new but innovative publishing house with an experienced team and I'm enjoying working with them as one of their early authors.
Do you ever ask yourself 'Is it worth it to enter a competition? There are people so much better at writing than me.'
If I hadn’t entered the New Voices Competition in 2011, I never would have had the success I have had so far. Eventually, maybe but I think I would have struggled. I believe things are meant to be and happen for a reason. It is my feeling that all of the rejections and consequent contacts I have made would not have happened as they did.
Give it a go next time round. What have you got to lose?
You can find Ann on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/annb.harrison.7 or at her website http://www.annbharrison.com/