This is why writing that novel is only half the battle

When Sue Clark wrote her novel ‘Note to Boy’ little did she know that writing that novel is only half the battle! In this post, she explains the highs & lows of getting her work published.



Many people reach a stage in their life when they think they’d like to write a book. Some start and abandon the project when they realise what extraordinarily hard work it is. Some finish writing it. And then what? How do you go about getting it published?

That was me. In a long and varied writing career, my work had been printed in newspapers and magazines and broadcast on radio and television. I’d written scripts for comedy shows, and serious pieces for commercial companies. I’d had an exciting and satisfying life as a journalist and writer, but something had always been lacking. I’d written all those words but never achieved what I’d always wanted to: write a novel, and get it published.


Going to do it!

Like many aspiring novelists, over the years I’ve written several, and started and abandoned many more. They sit gathering metaphorical dust in a file on my laptop optimistically named ‘Works in Progress’. Then along came retirement. I had the time. I had the ideas. I no longer had any excuse to put it off. Publishing a novel could be more than a pipe-dream. I could make it a reality. I would write that novel and get it out in the bookstores.

The first part of my scheme went to plan. I wrote the novel, called Note to Boy. I was successful in getting it taken on by a literary agent. But, as I quickly found, that was only half the battle. Publication proved trickier. Unless you’re already a well-established writer, writing in one of the mainstream genres that dominate today’s publishing industry, have a celebrity profile in another field, such as acting, or are very, very lucky, it seems in today’s highly competitive market, it is close to impossible to get a novel published. I was none of those things.

My agent received flattering responses from commissioning editors in the big publishing houses. They liked my humorous tale of what happens when the worlds of a fashion celebrity from the 1960s and a withdrawn sink estate kid collide. But ultimately they all said no, and a flattering rejection is still a rejection. I was disheartened but not despairing. I believed in my book. There had to be a way to get it out there.


Lightbulb moment

Shopping in the supermarket one day, I picked up a paperback by the sitcom writer Andy Hamilton; he of Drop the Dead Donkey and Outnumbered fame. I flicked through to the frontispiece and my eye was caught by these words: ‘The book you are holding,’ it began, ‘came about in a rather different way to most others.’ Since that moment, my life has been a roller-coaster.

Andy Hamilton’s book was produced by the crowdfunding publisher, Unbound. I contacted them, pitched Note to Boy and, last November, it was accepted for publication. Now, here I am, busily working with them on promoting it for publication.

What is crowdfunding publishing? It is not, definitely not, the same as self-publishing or vanity publishing. Books accepted by crowdfunding platforms like Unbound have to show real merit to be accepted. The standard is high, and some crowdfunded books have gone on to be best-sellers or award-winners.



The difference is, with crowdfunding, books are produced once sufficient support has been demonstrated. Readers pledge for them in advance and every supporter has his or her name printed in the book as a way of saying thanks. It builds a closer relationship between reader and author and, most important of all, gives a chance to books like mine: quirky creations by new voices.

For me, the added bonus has been experiencing incredible support from family and friends, other authors, and most amazingly, from complete strangers, who have all shown faith in my writing. As I write this, Note to Boy is close to 50% funded and I am well on my way to, at last, achieving my ambition of becoming a published novelist. I’m also working hard on novel number two.


Have you got a novel waiting to be written?

NOTE TO BOY by Unbound author, Sue Clark, is crowdfunding now.

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