Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Jane Adams: Without a Safety Net!

It is a very funny feeling, having striven for so long to get into print with a 'legitimate' publisher and feeling that this is the only way I could validate my writing to suddenly be going it alone. True, I've still got a publisher (fingers crossed and all that!) and I continue to write both the Rina Martin and Naomi Blake series for Severn House, but this entry into Kindledom is really very different.

You can kind of blame Michael Wood, the historian and TV personality. Years ago I'd got an idea for the book that finally became PRIEST, part one of the Swordweaver sequence - I think there'll be four. I'd got stuck on the research and when I met the venerable Mr Wood at a reading I asked for some advice. It was just a simple question (and I was really well behaved, bought a book for him to sign and everything) but it led to a conversation, others joined in and it led to a bigger conversation. I got the direction I needed for the research and Michael Wood missed his train - for which major apologies to his publicist who had been desperately trying to usher him out of the door.

So I started to write the book, in between other projects. Originally, it was just the one book and it was called Swordweaver, the idea being that would echo the notion of pattern welded swords and also of women either being shield maidens or peaceweavers, but, as these things do, it got a bit out of hand. The idea grew, the scope of the story expanded - and my husband adopted the name for his armoury (he makes metal clothes for medieval knights).

Mostly, I write crime. Often, I write crime and something else - supernatural, historical...whatever takes my fancy really. This was certainly Crime and Something Else and the something else became more important as time went on. There's a modern crime story with an investigating officer and there's a story set in the time of Alfred the Great and they wind through one another, linked by location and also by the effect the characters have one one another, despite the time and distance between....and, guess what? No one wanted it.

I've had some lovely rejections for this book. 'Compelling and involving but too long for us'; an expression of disbeleif that anything convincing could be written set in the Dark Ages (that conclusion reached without actually looking at the book) and, my favourite, one I take as a major compliment in fact, that it was, 'at times, like Alan Garner writing for adults- but it wouldn't sell in Tesco.'

Tesco.
Ok.

So, here I am, entering the Kindledom and bringing a book that I hope will be read so I have reason to write the others. And it is both terrifying and liberating. No safety net, no external validation, just my own judgement that this is a good book and so many new skills to learn.

But, you know what, it actually feels pretty good and being in the company of other writers that I admire and who have also taken that leap of faith is validation in itself. And I have other books that have received equally lavish rejections and a backlist - finally reverted -that deserves to be allowed another chance so this is just the beginning of the adventure and a long and exciting one I hope it will be.

10 comments:

Emma Barnes said...

Welcome to the exciting new world. I really empathise with your post, as like you, I had an idea which grew, which didn't belong to one clear genre, but which I happened to love and believe in.

Those are the kind of books, ultimately, that most of us want to read: ie books that contain something new, that their author really wanted to express, and that weren't written because they fitted neatly on a particular shelf in the store.

And why not the Dark Ages? To give just one example, I have always loved Mary Stewart's Crystal Cave, squarely set in that period, and so do a great many other people - they seem to have established themselves now as lasting classics. It was a fascinating, bloody, exciting time - perfect for the novelist.

Debbie said...

Sounds like Barbara Erskine to me - and she sells well. I'm off to go and get a sample...

Linda Gillard said...

Publishers DON'T want "Alan Garner writing for adults"?! Oh... my... God...

Good luck, Jane. :-)

Susan Price said...

I shop in Tesco! And I'd buy that book!

madwippitt said...

Can't say I've ever seen Alan Garner in Tesco ...

But there are loads of dark ages books - I have seen Bernard Cornwell, who is responsible for not a few of them - on supermarket shelves.

Good luck with this, it sounds intriguing

Jane A Adams said...

Thanks to everyone for their comments, it's nice to have company! OK, I'm being really dim here. Debbie mentions samples and I suddenly realised I hadn't even thought of that! Duh! How do I do it?

dirtywhitecandy said...

Alan Garner... a name you don't see mentioned enough - congratulations for causing such a namecheck!

As for samples... Kindle gives them automatically, you don't have to do a thing. But you can also get a sample 'look inside'-type widget from a company called Bookbuzzr (google it) and the widget is free - upload a PDF to it and you get a widget of your book to put on your blog. You can set it to send tweets every day. I've used it for my writing book and I'm sure it's sold loads of copies for me.
Also I've recorded an audio trailer of my novel - the first 4 chapters, which readers will be able to download as a free MP3.
The friend who helped me has already sworn that he wants my book on the strength of listening to it.
Best of luck!

Katherine Roberts said...

My new children's series about King Arthur's daughter is set in the Dark Ages (they'll be "proper" books published by Templar next year).

But I think the Dark Ages do sell to adults - I've just bought Phil Rickman's new book "Bones of Avalon" on my Kindle, and am off right now to download your Swordweaver sample...

Jane A Adams said...

I love Phil Rickman and I've just realised some of his earlier ones are Kindled, which is good news. Alan Garner is one of the reasons I write - ok, so I went a bit off track with Crime but that was accidental anyway...When my kids were young I read Alan Garner books to them; my son was as besotted as me, my daughter has taken until her children came along to really 'get' him.

Thanks to everyone for tips and information. There is sooo much to learn.

madwippitt said...

Bookbuzzr sounded good - but when I looked it up, it's not free. :-(