Tag Archives: PFD

NEW Diary of a hopeful author: How I got to my three-book publishing deal

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…

Photo of a Diary

Previously, I had never believed that the phrase ‘a dream come true’ was real. I mean, look at it. It uses the word ’dream’, and dream implies unreal, made-up, in your head. Bottom line: it may never happen.

And so, my friends, to the present day. Mad busy has this year been that I have had to, with hanging head, take a time out from my Wednesday Waffling blog. But the reason – oh the reason – has been a mighty good one, a reason so fantastic, so unbelievable that even now I don’t believe it myself. I’d kick me, but that would hurt.

The reason is this: I have a 3-book publishing deal. And not just one deal, but multiple deals, around the world – digital, paperback, hard back, audio, the lot, from different publishing houses spanning from Random House in Germany to Harlequin Mira in the UK. I have met with editors and sales teams and TV execs and it has been a ball. Yet all the time, all the while as I meet and talk and compute, the same thing goes round and round my head like ticker tape: it’s like a dream.

See, thing is, I’ve been working hard at writing for a heck of a long time now. Years. And I’ve tried everything. Radio sketches, TV sitcoms, plays, short stories, novels. I’ve got my head down and tried it all because you never know. You never know what might just work if you give it a shot, and if it doesn’t go your way? Then at least you got a whole heap of writing practice in.

Recent years have thrown me a few hoop shots: a festival story award, short listed for The Guardian newspaper travel writing competition, long listed for a BBC talent scheme. But each time, I didn’t quite make it, didn’t quite get to the top of the mountain, so to speak. And boy were there times when I just wanted to give up, to chuck it all in, to shout at it and shut the door, walk away, never come back. But I didn’t. I didn’t because I love writing and I knew, I knew somewhere in the deep sticky recess of my head that it would all work out, that if I just kept going one more time, it would all work out.

I stuck with it, did my research, taught myself what makes a good novel, how it’s constructed, how the market works, what sells, what agents want, what readers want to read. And I combined that with my stubborn, heels in the dirt attitude of not giving up. There is a saying that went through my head the whole time: when others give up, we give more. It’s actually an SAS phrase, not that I am in the SAS, although, to be fair, I’d love to give it a go. Just without the guns.

So, the book, the first in a trilogy is coming out in Spring/Summer 2015. It’s called The Spider in the Corner of the Room. It’s a psychological conspiracy thriller, or psycon (I just made that phrase up…). It will be out all over UK & commonwealth, Europe, Taiwan/China, audio in the USA so far, and hopefully, as things are looking, in a whole heap more territories. And the great new is, NBC Universal have optioned the trilogy for a major international TV series (there’s a couple of links below about it all).

I guess, when I look back, when I think of when I started this blog and why – i.e. to document my messy, pot-hole ridden journey at trying to make it as an author – I never really let myself imagine that it would actually happen. I love literature festivals, for example, but never let myself go to Hay-on-Wye festival, telling myself that I only wanted to go there as a published author. And where am I now going in May 2015? Hay Literature Festival. As a published author. Hoozah. I’ll be talking at other festivals too – Harrogate Crime Fest, Cheltenham Lit Fest, ones I have attended myself as a reader. And now I’ll be there – as an author. Surreal.

So, thanks for following this blog, for reading my dirt-ridden ups and downs over the past two years. It’s been really hard, I’ve put in so many hours, made so many sacrifices, but it’s worth it. Worth every single second. Because being a published author has always been my dream. And now it’s come true.

Click on the links to The Bookseller (here) and my agents, PFD (here) to read what they’ve said about The Spider in the Corner of the Room…

Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog…**

Diary of a hopeful author: The interview: meet my agent, Adam Gauntlett of PFD

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

As promised, I am mighty pleased to introduce you to Adam Gauntlet, my agent at Peters Fraser & Dunlop (PFD). I have quizzed him about what it is to be a literary agent, and, crucially, what he is looking for from prospective author, and he has kindly answered below. A true gent. He is a cracking agent – and he won’t mind me saying this – rocks a great hair cut. Let the Q & A begin. Hope it helps…

What qualities do you need to be a literary agent?

A keen eye, strong editorial instincts and persistence.

Adam Gauntlett, literary agent with a good haircut
Adam Gauntlett, literary agent with a good haircut

How did you get started?

I started off working over PFD’s backlist titles, before moving over to work in our Dramatic Rights Department, selling book-to-film/TV rights and book-to-stage rights. Aside from book agenting, I now handle all dramatic stage rights at the agency.

What’s the best part about being a literary agent?

The thrill of closing a deal for a client you love and seeing their work reach a wider audience.

What mistakes do prospective clients make?

Uninspiring pitches fed by half-baked submission letters.

Describe the perfect approach from a prospective client.

I don’t think there should be a prescriptive answer to this. What I will say, as a continuation of the above, is that a well-wrought and thought-out submission letter can really make all the difference.

How would you summarize your personal agenting philosophy?

Beautiful and erudite writing will always transcend the whims of the market and ultimately find its natural home.

 What do you expect from an agent-author relationship?

I expect an author to be dedicated to the refinement of their craft and be willing to take onboard constructive criticism.

What’s something coming out now/soon that you’ve represented and are excited about?

 A memoir by Bob Dylan’s tour manager, Victor Maymudes, titled Another Side of Bob Dylan. It will be published by St. Martin’s Press in autumn 2014.

What sort of genres are you on the lookout for in submissions?

On the whole I’m more drawn towards commercial literary fiction and narrative non-fiction, though am perennially interested in crime and thrillers. That said, good writing can often be difficult to categorize; I’m happy to consider most things.

How can aspiring authors contact you/send in a submission?

Email (preferred) or postal submission. My email is: agauntlett@pfd.co.uk

 What’s your advice to an aspiring author?

Believe in what you’re writing and always be aware of the market.

 

So if you needed to discover what agents are looking for, now you know! Adam is open to queries. To read more about what Adam & PFD represent, plus see their submissions guidelines, please go here. A huge thank you to Adam for taking the time for this post.

 

**Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog…**

Diary of a hopeful author: I’m chasing the real dream

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

I do love a dream. What’s not to love about a dream? Good stuff happens in dreams, great stuff, stuff that, in your regular every day, moment-to-moment movements and routines and bill-paying tasks, would never ever occur. Like flying without a plane, or scoring a cracking goal or, in my case, last night, being an awesome surfer (don’t ask. Actually do. And my answer would be that my daughter wants me to take her surfing this weekend and I’m slightly scared. The dream surf was nice. I rocked.)

Thing is, dreams end when you open your eyes. In a way. There is, of course, the line of argument that your dreams should always stay with you. To this, of course, there is only one answer – they should, but only when those dreams are real, are reflections of what you actually want from life, what you really, really wish you had/did/were. And for those dreams to come about, to step out of your sleepy head and morph into living wonder, you need one thing: reality.

Let me stick this in context. My dream is being a massively successful author. This summer just gone has been a step towards that. I have, now, a literary agent, an event that bowled me over so much that instead of jumping and whooping (like I had dreamed), I gave one smile then got on with what had to be done. And now, how is the dream as I am in touching distance of it, as I am working with my brilliant agent (still weird saying that) and amazing editor as we shape my novel to be the very best it can be for publishers to read?  It is real. That’s what it is. It is, right now, all very real and very hard work, and, at times, is pushing me to think things through in a way I never have before, in a way only experienced people like agents and editors can help you do.

Because that is the reality of the dream. When you’ve blinked awake and realized that, even though you’re not asleep, you can still actually see your dream, see the thing you’ve wanted for so long. The reality of the dream is that you have to work hard. Really, really hard. It’s like the saying goes, ‘You can’t have the rainbow without a little rain.’ And that’s me, right now, working hard through the rain to make that rainbow appear. Or, in this case, a big publishing deal.

Turns out, this weekend, the forecast on the coast is for rain, pattering, British rain. But I’ll still go surfing with my daughter, because, like she said with a shrug at the weather report, ‘When you go surfing you’re in the sea so you get wet anyway.’  Too, right, honey. So I may fall off (lots), I may only be able to stand for five (two) seconds on the board, but I’ll be living the dream. The real dream.

 

Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog…**

Diary of a hopeful author: What makes a good psychological thriller?

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

This week I am knee deep in plotting.  Following an edit meeting last week, my task now is to re-analyse my thriller novel and pick it apart, spot any plot holes, tie them back up.

I tell you what, this is a huge shocker. Seriously, I have had my plot pulled apart and picked so much that I feel like I’ve been spun round with a blindfold on then told to walk.

But no fear! Because – and I do mean this – it is all good. Yes, being asked questions about your plot is a right old tester, but without it, without questioning every single element of your story, you cannot get it to the very best it can be. And then it is bye-bye publishing deal.

All this editing has also meant re-visiting the main thesis and threads of my book. This is vital because the function of the plot is to communicate the thesis (theme). The thesis is like glue – without it, nothing sticks. So I have been today reminding myself what it’s trying to say in my novel and what I wanted it to be way back in the very first place. And all this has to be thought through in the context of the genre of the book. And breathe.

So, with all this in mind, I have for you this week a question. And it is this: What makes a good psychological thriller?

Below is a link from Wikipedia on this genre – see if it stacks up. What have you read that’s good and not so good? And what made it that way? Class – discuss. It will mess with your head.

Read the Wikipedia link here

**Coming soon: Interview with PFD’s Adam Gauntlett on submitting to agents**

Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog. This week I’m talking about  the Severn Barrage in Gloucestershire…**

Diary of a hopeful author: High five! I have a literary agent.

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

I bring you good news. I have myself a literary agent. Tis the really lovely Mr Adam Gauntlett of literary agency Peters, Fraser and Dunlop (PFD), and I am chuffed to bits. With everything now confirmed, the work has begun immediately. I have an editor meeting next week and already things are afoot to prepare to get the MS ready for Frankfurt Book Fair – a big get together where agents and publishers do their business thang.

It’s all still a touch surreal, but oh my days, I am LOVING having the opportunity of a very experienced team of people helping me get this novel to the very best level it can be to secure a publishing deal. I know! I know!

So, due to the amount of work I’ve now got to do over the next month (and I still have a column to write today. Heck) I am keeping this post short. But, just wanted to keep you updated. Adam has kindly agreed to do a Q&A for the blog, so once I get myself organised, I’ll get that sorted. If there’s anything specific you would like me to ask Adam – say getting an agent etc – do let me know.

Right, off to roll a shoulder then continue writing.  Have a cracking week.

You can follow Adam on Twitter @Albioneye

You can take a ganders at PFD’s website here

Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog. …**

Diary of a hopeful author: My top ten fantasy party people…

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

Do you sometimes find yourself getting lost in your own little world. God, I do. It’s a nightmare. Not where I get lost to, although sometimes…But no, I refer to the art or rather action of ‘getting lost’ in my own world that’s the nightmare.

The reason I say this is due to The Sunday Times. Not the entire paper per se, but rather its magazine. You see, Christmas is coming and what with pressie frenzy, teeth-grinding on-loop Xmas jingles in the shops and the constant requests by kids of’how many sleeps till Christmas day’, the world has gone festive crazy. And specifically, party crazy.

Now I love a party. Who doesn’t? What more opportunity do you need to prove to everyone how much your body can’t handle in drink whilst simultaneously bad-mouthing the entire cast of X Factor contestants? When I was little, parties meant people. Friends, if you will, who charged in, grabbed food and generally made a mess.

30-odd years later and things are still the same. Not necessarily the mess (actually, maybe), and certainly not the food grabbing (unless you count drunken New Year’s table tumbles), but people. People maketh a party, and, according to The Sunday Times, we should have a wish list of said people.

Now, since I am mid-book edit, I am finding that, as it is all going surprisingly well and I have now just 6 (only 6!!) chapters to complete, I have realised that I clearly need to issue myself with some procrastinating distractions. Step forward daydreaming. Yes, getting lost in my world whilst writing is coming to the forefront, and, courtesy of The Sunday Times, that world now consists of my fantasy party people.

But, since this blog’s all, you know, writery stuff, I thought I’d give my list a literary edge. And I use that word literary loosely. So here you go, my Top Ten fantasy writing party people….

10. God – he’d do, wouldn’t he? Okay, so the chances of the big fella turning up at the table I know are slim, but imagine the dirt he’d have on everyone. Not that’d he’d blag. And we couldn’t get him drunk either.

9. JK Rowling – I’d feed her, say, newts, then get talking Potter. At some point I may ask how much she’s earned. Worth a shot.

8. Stephen Fry – need I really explain?

7. Someone from a publishing house – anyone would do. Preferably an MD, then I could implore to them how just really great my latest book is.

6. A literary agent – now that’d be handy, obvs. Juliet Mushens at PFD is a sharp dressing dude. And Oliver Munsen at Blake Friedman is really lovely. For a Spurs fan.

5. Caitlin Moran – Sunday Times columnist, in case your question marking. Trouble is, I think she’s so great, I’d only sit there staring at her, get trolleyed and then beg her to be my best friend. Not pretty. See guest no.1 for help.

4. E.M. Forster – he’s the man. A legend in the novel-writing world. I mean, okay, he may be dead, but this is fantasy, right? His legend lives on.

3. Miranda Hart – okay, so a comedy actress entrant here, but she just seems so much FUN, and what’s a party without a bloody good laugh. Oh, and she’s just written her autobiography, so writing box ticked.

2. Tina Fey – for the same reasons as Miranda. And, the Fey is a comedy screenwriting LEGEND.

1. My best mate, Katrina – she clams right up in social situations, which is the ying to my verbal diarrhoea yang. So, if at said fantasy party I waffled on too much because I was star struck, she could administer a strategic dig to my ribs to silence me (see guest no.5…). And when she’s too quiet ‘cos she’s star struck/asleep, I can stamp on her foot. Ah yes, no party would be complete.

 So, what’s your fantasy top 10 writing party people? Come on, fess up.

Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog. This week I’m talking about cuts, communities and why we should all pull together…**