Brief Update - Posts A Go Go

It's been a busy few writing days.

Writers & Artists have published a piece I wrote called 'Should You Really be a Writer?' It's a collection of my thoughts on the differences between writing out of passion and writing out of a desire to be famous / rich / just like your favourite author. It's something I care about and something I feel can trap people if they're not careful. Give it a read and let me know what you think.

I also have a guest post up on Kat Ellis' blog that you can read HERE. This one's about what it was like to be offered a two-book deal right from the get go, and what it looks like to write a book that's already under contract. Kat was also good enough to write about her path to publication, and balancing UK and U.S. edits, right here - it's the post below this one (or HERE).


My Photo[Edited] - Totally forgot to mention that I'm acting as a Bouncer / Judge in the new Cupid's Literary Connection Blind Speed Dating competition - details HERE. This is a great way for unagented writers to get their work in front of literary agents - including, I see, Victoria Lowes from The Bent Agency. The info's all in the link, and the submission window is now open. Time to send in that book you've been working on and take a shot at landing an agent! You can also follow Cupid for Writers on Twitter as @CupidsLC.


The Path to Publication - Guest Post by Kat Ellis

Happy Monday, all. Today's post is not by me - it is, instead, by author Kat Ellis, who wrote a great piece back in February about New Adult literature. Since then her book, Blackfin Sky, has sold in the UK and the U.S., and will be coming out in May and September, respectively. Congrats, Kat! And now, over to you.

Thanks, Simon, for inviting me back to your blog – I promise not to leave coffee stains on your carpets.

Simon and I are both members of We Are One Four, which is a group of authors whose debut novels are due for release in 2014 (and one in 2015). On the WAOF site we’re announcing our big pre-publication milestones – at the moment, that’s mostly showing off our fabulous covers, and as each of us creeps closer to being published, we’ll be showing off lots of other bookish highlights – book trailers, merchandise, events we’re attending and stuff like that.

But there’s a lot that happens behind the scenes on the path to publication that you might have an inkling about, but maybe not. Before I signed my publishing contracts (yep, 2 of ‘em – my book will be released in 2 different versions, one for the UK market and one for the US) I’d seen a few authors online go through the traditional publishing process. But there’s a lot you can’t know before setting out on that path yourself, as I've discovered.

Blackfin Sky's UK cover

The first thing I expected was that I’d be very busy working on edits. Doubly so, as I’m working with 2 different – and incredibly brilliant - editors.

I was not wrong about this.

But as it turned out, as soon as a round of edits was complete for one editor, a revision letter came in from the other – it’s almost as though they were conspiring to keep me busy, but to never overlap. Don’t cross the streams, as they say on Ghostbusters. (You really can’t go wrong living your life according to the ghostbusting ethos.) So that was good, and excellently timed, if somewhat hardcore.

Don't cross the streams!

What I had no expectations about was the other stuff. Marketing stuff. Merchandising and interviews and events. The whole book package.

Let’s look at covers, then, because that’s one way in which my publishers have differed. One had an in-house design team, and one didn't. I will be absolutely upfront and say I feel like I struck gold in terms of covers, with both publishers. I will also admit that I was terrified it wouldn't work out that way.

Before the finer details of the contracts were finalised, I didn't know how much input – if any – I would have into what my book cover looked like. When it came down to it, I suggested Shane Rebenschied to my publisher for the UK artwork, and my US editor has consulted with me at every step with the development of the US cover by the publisher’s in-house designer. Different approaches, but both have worked really well.

In both cases, my editors have sent me and my agent, the Amazing Molly Ker Hawn, drafts for our comments, and they've taken our feedback on board. I don’t think this is something that happens with every book or every publisher, so in that I’m really lucky. I've also ended up with a book that has 2 amazing covers – one you've seen, and one you’ll be seeing soon!

One of the biggest things I've learned is why authors don’t generally know a lot about this stuff before entering the swirling pre-publication vortex: it’s because it’s a different process for each author, in so many ways. So far mine has been an absolute thrill, and I can’t wait for everyone to see the finished product of Blackfin Sky, and to be able to hold my real, tangible book in my hands.

I’ll have to try really hard not to get snot on it.

Kat Ellis is a young adult writer from North Wales. Her debut novel, BLACKFIN SKY, is forthcoming in 2014 from Firefly Press (UK) and Running Press Kids (USA).

You can read more on Kat's blog, follow her on Twitter, and be sure to add Blackfin Sky on Goodreads.


Artwork! Illustrator! Eren!

Taking some time out from writing to share something pretty special (at least, to me) - the first artwork from Eren.

When Eren is published there's going to be an introduction (which I wrote) to the whole book. My publisher felt it would be a good way of explaining what the book meant to me and how I'd come to write it in the first place. There are also going to be several illustrations, drawn - I can now share - by the amazing Ellie Denwood. I am Very Excited by this.

Anyway, in place of the book cover (although watch this space for news on that...) in the C&R book catalog, they came up with something rather special:

Lines from the introduction made into this beautiful imagine. Do you see? DO YOU SEE? I am rather excited by it all. 


A Look Back (I Steal Things)

Inspired entirely by fellow WeAreOneFour'er Kat Ellis' great post My 2013 In Review, I thought I'd start off the new year on m'blog by looking back at where I've been. After all, "Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal," as T. S. Eliot probably wrote (He did, actually - see this helpful investigation into the quote's source).

What I Got Up To in 2013


At the end of 2012 I found out my short story The Storyteller's Jig would be published in an anthology of fairy tales. January, then, saw e-mails flying back and forth about edits, titles, author info, and more. It was exciting - and the first time one of my stories would be in a real, live book. Eren, meanwhile, was still on submission to publishers across the world.


More edits, more writing. I wrote a guest post on Kat's blog and she wrote a great one about New Adult fiction on mine


THE BIG ONE: News broke that Eren had sold to Constable & Robinson in a two-book deal. Can't even express how this made me feel. Everything got a little strange and mad and good.


A calmer month, but lots going on. Eren's sale meant edits were on their way - and there were still plenty of short stories I had in the works. Found out that October Rules would be published in a new anthology from Elephant Bookshelf Press.


Modern Grimmoire launched, and now I had a book I could show people that had my name in it. More happiness. More disbelief.


Neil Gaiman's new novel came out - and my wife and I went to see him in Brooklyn. Magical and wonderful - a reminder of what writers can aim for.


A quiet month! Well, almost. Summer's Edge was published - a great collection by some amazing writers and another one to add to the part of the bookshelf where Eren would one day sit.


Working on Eren took up more and more time - and I took a break from this very blog. Well, kind of. I also helped launch We Are One Four, a 2014 debut writers group that is just now coming into its own. Go, check them all out. They are good people.


Edits. Edits. I dream of edits. Edits are the only thing that exist. Edits for breakfast. Edits for everything.


With much pomp and exhaustion, I sent Eren back to the publisher, all smart and polished and nice-looking. To celebrate both that and the general awesomeness of stories, I held the 1031 Story Challenge here on the blog, asking writers to pen a new tale in 1031 words or less (10/31 being the U.S. date for Halloween). Some truly fantastic submissions. I was humbled.

Also took part in Chloe Banks' Zodiac Series. I wrote about Cancer the Crab. You can read it if you like - it's here.


My short story Billy McGuire's Faerie was published by Stone Crowns in their free YA magazine. The first time I'd seen original artwork based off one of my stories. MANY feelings.

Look, isn't it pretty?


Another great highlight - seeing Neil Gaiman again! His 'An Evening With...' series, with Amanda Palmer, was baffling and incredibly fun. A birthday gift from m'wife, who is amazing.


Well, that was 2013. 2014 looks like it's going to be busier and more amazing than ever - and I can't wait. What have you been up to? Time for me to get back into blogging. Thanks for sticking around.