Finally some news…New publishing contract!

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Things have been pretty quiet from me on here (and social media in general), but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy behind the scenes.

I’m pleased to announce that the DCI Claire Winters series has been picked up by digital first publisher Carina UK, an imprint of Harlequin – a division of HarperCollins!

Many of you who have followed me from the beginning of this journey know that both novels in the series were self-published in 2013. I have had complete control over the whole process for all this time, so there was a bit of nerves when I clicked the ‘unpublish’ section over on Amazon’s KDP site, BUT the response from the team at Carina UK has been fantastic. They have been so enthusiastic about the series, championing DCI Claire Winters and that’s given me a lot of confidence to sign with them. I feel like my ‘baby’ is in good hands.

This new venture means the books will be available across devices and sites, reaching a far wider audience than before.  There will be new front covers, and a few differences in the text itself.

I’ve spent the last few weeks working on strengthening the first book, ‘For All Our Sins’, after my editor’s suggestions. I’m waiting for her to report back, but I’m hoping (praying, biting nails!) that she approves. I’m certainly happy with it, and I think some changes bring more depth to the central characters and their motivations.

There is a chance the novels will be available as paperbacks if eBook sales prove strong.

A BIG thank you to everyone who bought the novels since 2013, and left reviews. I’m told the reviews should all transfer over to the new listed versions on publication day – fingers crossed!

What next?

Well, I’m currently working on a new standalone novel, ‘The Shattered Ground’, which I hope to really get stuck into now I’ve signed with Carina UK, but a third book in the DCI Claire Winters series is in the pipeline.

That’s all for now. I hope to have more to share soon!

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year 2015 & a FREE ebook

I can’t believe it’s Christmas Eve already. Where has the year gone?

I hope everyone has a safe and peaceful Christmas and I hope the New Year brings every one of you lots of new opportunities and writing success.

I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has bought my novels, and for the positive response and support for my DCI Claire Winters series. It has opened a few new avenues for me, and I’ve had some fantastic advice from people in the publishing industry, that I might not have had if I’d left my manuscripts on the hard drive.

To the other self-published authors out there, I hope your endeavours are working out for you and to those who are considering becoming an independent author the message is simple. Make that leap. It might be the best thing that has ever happened in your writing career.

Because it’s Christmas, my short story ‘Broken Palace’ will be free from tomorrow until the 29th December. If you’re getting a tablet, smart phone or Kindle for Christmas, what better way to try out your new gadget than with a freebie? 😉

Don’t forget you don’t need a Kindle to download from Amazon. You can download the Kindle App for FREE to most tablets, smart phones and even your PC.

Right, I’m off to start the celebrations early, as is the tradition in the Walsh household.

MERRY CHRISTMAS & A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Writers’ & Artists’ – How to Hook an Agent event Sept 2014

Bloomsbury Publishing, Bedford Square, London

Bloomsbury Publishing, Bedford Square, London

Regular followers of my blog might remember my post back in July about the ‘How to Hook an Agent’ event run by Writers’ and Artists’ that I had signed up for.

In July I gave my reasons for wanting to attend the event and promised to blog about my experience, and try to give anyone considering attending an event like this an idea about what to expect and if it would be beneficial.

The event started with teas and coffees at 9:30am where everyone who was attending the event had a chance to mingle. The event was sold out, and I think there was around thirty of us altogether.

We were then split into two groups and shown to our rooms where the talks with the agents would begin.

I was in Group 1 and we were shown into a separate room, where Literary agents Jo Unwin (Jo Unwin Literary Agency, in association with Rogers Coleridge and White) and Juliet Pickering (Blake Friedmann Literary Agency) were already seated.

Jo Unwin presented a how-to session on knowing when your novel is ready, finding the right agent, what to include in a submission package, and how to write a good synopsis.

As expected, there were a few questions about the synopsis and its difference to a pitch or ‘blurb’!

Juliet Pickering then offered advice on writing the perfect submission letter and how best to pitch your book, and challenged us with an exercise in writing our own pitch to be read out to the group.

The pitch is important because the agent may use this along with the synopsis to pitch your work to literary scouts, publishers and at book fairs, so you need to make it count and put a lot of thought into it.

We had about five minutes to write a few lines (around three sentences) about our book and then it was time to read them out.

No pressure then . . .

I hate reading aloud, and I was very nervous, but after I read mine I was told that my pitch was ‘spot on’.

I’m very proud of that pitch and I had prepared most of it before attending the event, and tweaked the pitch based on the advice given by the agents before we had to read them out.

After the pitches were done, the agents swapped rooms.

We were then joined by Lucy Luck (Lucy Luck Associates) and Juliet Mushens (The Agency Group – UK Literary Division).

Both agents discussed what appeals to them in a submission, and showed us real examples and case studies from both successful and unsuccessful submissions. This was followed by a discussion on what happens next when a book is taken on by a publishing house, the role of agents and a Q & A session.

For me personally the best part if this session was seeing real examples of successful and unsuccessful cover letters.

The contrast between the two was astonishing, and we were told that the unsuccessful letter mirrored about 90% of the submissions the agents received.

I was quietly relieved that my cover letter bears no resemblance to the unsuccessful one. My cover letter isn’t perfect and I can see now where I need to tweak it, but I now know I should have more faith in myself.

 

Copyright - Writers' & Artists' website

Copyright – Writers’ & Artists’ website

Soon it was time for lunch, where we got to mingle again while we waited for our allocated one-to-one pitch with the agent of our choice. This was a great opportunity to chat to fellow authors, share our experiences and prepare for our one-to-ones.

In my blog post from July, I mentioned that I wanted a chance to chat with Juliet Mushens, because she read the full MS for ‘The Principle of Evil’ last November.

I was aware that Juliet might not be interested in my third novel, because it was part of my DCI Winters series. Book one and two have now been self-published, so I made sure I had another pitch lined up for a standalone novel I intend to start writing soon.

I also assumed she wouldn’t remember me or my novel but I was pleasantly surprised to find that she did, which was very reassuring.

Juliet said she can receive 600 submissions a month, and she only calls in a very small number of full manuscripts, and very rarely crime.

Needless to say, this did give me a confidence boost. Sometimes when you get rejections it can be hard to keep believing in your abilities as an author. Hearing an agent, who took the time to consider your work, telling you that you are a good writer, is a pretty good feeling.

I pitched Juliet both books and she was very positive about the standalone novel, so I feel much more confident about starting it.

I do have some news, that I can’t reveal on here yet, about the DCI Winters series, but I did ask Juliet for advice on this and I have taken on board what was discussed.

I left the one-to-one session feeling much more motivated and with a renewed confidence in my writing.

All the agents were lovely and took the time to answer questions and gave fantastic advice.

So, I guess the big question is . . .

Was the event worth it?

For me, yes it most certainly was.

Yes, there was a lot covered that I was already familiar with, but there were several tips I picked up, especially on how to improve a submission letter, and of course the one-to-one session was a fantastic opportunity to get instant feedback.

If you’re a complete novice when it comes to agents and the submissions process, then this event is definitely worth it.

If you’ve had more experience, then maybe you might need to think more carefully if this is an event for you, but just think about the potential benefits.

It gets you a seat face-to-face with an agent. You get instant personal feedback on the pitch for your novel, and tips for the cover letter. All of this helps to make sure you stand out. Ultimately the decision made by an agent to call in a full MS comes down to the writing, but giving your submission the best chance to stand out beforehand can only be a good thing.

I have a few tips for anyone who hasn’t attended an event like this before and has signed up for the next ‘Hook an Agent’ in November, or is thinking of doing so in the future –

Do your research

Sounds obvious, but I think it’s essential. Research all the agents who will be offering their expertise at the event. You never know who you might end up sitting next to.

Prepare a pitch

You might get put on the spot earlier than you think!

I’d like to take the opportunity to thank everyone involved at Writers’ & Artists’ for organising a great event and to the agents for their valuable time.

Good luck to those attending the next event!

 

Books released today

COVER ATTEMPT 10 COVER 014

Both my DCI Claire Winters novels, ‘For All Our Sins’ (re-released) and The Principle of Evil’ are out today on Amazon Kindle. I will also be looking at making the novels available on other eBook formats.

Don’t forget – You don’t need a Kindle to download these books. You can download the FREE Kindle app for your PC, iPhone, iPad and other Android devices 🙂

The books are written in a way that they can be read in any sequence. Although they are part of a series, they can be read like a standalone novel. There isn’t any spoilers about book one, in book two.

To those of you who have waited for the second novel, thank you for your patience. There have been several delays for various reasons.

Those of you who regularly follow my blog – a huge ‘thank you’, by the way! –  may remember that it has always been a goal of mine to secure a literary agent and then find a traditional publishing deal.

That is still my ultimate goal at the moment but there are reasons I’m choosing to self-publish my work at present.

Out of the two books, ‘The Principle of Evil’ is my favourite. I feel my writing has noticeably matured since the first book and the plot is much tighter.

‘For All Our Sins’ had one request for the full MS by an agent, whereas ‘The Principle of Evil’ has had three literary agencies interested to date. It is definitely the better received of the two books.

So why self-publish?

Anyone reading this who has sent their work out on submission will know just how hard it is securing a literary agent. The route to becoming a traditionally published author can be disheartening, and thankless. It’s rare you get any feedback, other than a ‘thanks, but no thanks’.

If you get several requests for a full MS it’s very encouraging, but still doesn’t guarantee you’ll be offered representation. Anyone who has experienced this will share my frustration when you are rejected because an agent thinks they’ll have a hard job selling your work to a publisher, despite having excellent feedback about your work.

Talk about so near yet so far!

Those in the business obviously have more of an insight and a wide knowledge of what’s selling and what a publisher is looking for. I do appreciate the detailed feedback I’ve had from these agents.

One thing that is important to remember, however, is that one person’s opinion on your work is just that – an opinion.

Crime is a very competitive and overcrowded genre. It’s hard to stand out and be 100% original. ‘If it can be done, it has been done’, to quote a friend of mine.

Anyone who is a veteran at sending their work to agents will know that, sometimes the only reason that you got a rejection is because an agent or publisher doesn’t see the sales potential in your work – especially if you’re a début author.

Whether you think it’s fair or not – publishing is a business after all – it’s a cold hard fact.

I’ve now decided to self-publish because I believe my novels have a readership.

My work may not be selling as many copies as those in the top ten, but if readers write a review, tell me they love a story or a character, it means a lot to me, and encourages me to carry on publishing my work.

I’m ambitious though. I do hope someday I’ll achieve my overall dream of walking into a big retailer and seeing hardback copies of my novel on the shelf, and it’s a dream shared by many, I’m sure.

Being an author can be tough. It’s not easy, but things that are worth striving for are rarely handed to you on a plate. You have to work for what you want.

If you download a copy of the book(s), please be kind enough to post a review. If you like them, please spread the word! Word-of-mouth is the best way of getting books to new readers.

If you’re a fellow ‘indie’ author, keep writing, hone your craft and support other authors. Us writers need to stick together.

*note* for some reason if you download a sample of book one, you get the old file, even though the ‘Look inside’ section on Amazon shows the new one – weird. Hoping Amazon sort this ASAP.

The 1st DCI Claire Winters novel, ‘For All Our Sins’, released on Kindle today ONLY 77p ($1.20)

COVER ATTEMPT 10

FOR ALL OUR SINS was originally published in February 2011 but since the rights reverted back to me, the novel has undergone a re-write, and this is the new version, released on Kindle today, a snip at only 77p! ($1.20) You can buy it here (amazon UK)  or here (Amazon US)

This novel has been a long journey, from its very first conception in 2007, to the first publication in 2011, through to the new improved version we have today, which is the one I want readers to focus on.

The second DCI Claire Winters novel, THE PRINCIPLE OF EVIL, was originally completed in 2012 and after two requests for the complete MS, the novel is currently undergoing a trim of the initial word count and an extract can be found at the end of the Kindle version of FOR ALL OUR SINS.

Those who bought the old version would still benefit from reading the new version and you don’t need a Kindle to read it on either. You can download the Kindle app for the PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad and Android devices via Amazon.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

‘The room smelled of blood, so thick she could almost taste it.’

A butchered priest.

A thirst for revenge.

A dark secret that won’t stay buried . . .

The murdered, mutilated body of a priest is lying in his own church. It’s something that hard-headed DCI Claire Winters of Haverbridge CID hasn’t seen before.

This is a new evil.

Sent on the trail of a killer motivated by a deep-seated and long-standing rage, Claire and her team must race against time to join together the pieces of a deadly puzzle, before others become victims of the killer’s hatred.

Sometimes there’s a fine line between good and evil.

Who would be willing to cross it?

So, I really hope people enjoy it.

Good luck to everyone else who has their work coming out soon and I hope all us writers can continue to support each other.

‘Us writers’ need to stick together.’ 😀