A Very Belated Update on Getting Published

Published by: Skylark on 16th Aug 2017 | View all blogs by Skylark

On 12th January this year, I sat with my agent Jo Unwin in two different publisher’s offices trying to act calm and cool and professional while underneath it all I was concentrating very hard on not laughing hysterically or bursting into tears. Both publishers loved my book, both wanted to publish it, and the choice was up to me. I didn't have to make my mind up straight away. I went home to sleep on it. Except I didn't make it home. I got off the train in Macclesfield and ended up stranded in a Travelodge on the outskirts of Stockport because there was too much snow to drive safely over the hills. My husband talked the decision through with me on the phone until the early hours and I went to bed with my head spinning, no clear idea of what I wanted to do just lots of muddled thoughts. But I remember very clearly waking the next morning, in the quiet that you only get when there is a world of snow outside your window, knowing exactly which publisher I wanted to choose, and why. And that was that.

Except it's been so much more than that since then. It was February before I could say anything about the London trip and March before I signed the contract with Transworld and made it official. I then worked with my editor, Susanna, and her assistant editor, Lizzy, on editing the novel. It was daunting at times (removing the voice of one character and rewriting it in the voice of another) but hugely enjoyable because I could see it all working and improving and becoming an even better book than it had started out as. I had a few weeks to breathe while Kate, the copyeditor, went through it and then mid-June, when I was immersed in end of year school reports, I had the novel back to check Kate's corrections and queries. That was my first experience of school work and writing work clashing in a big way - both with deadlines - and it took a bit of shuffling things around and three weeks of doing nothing else but work of one kind or the other to meet the deadlines. However, I really enjoyed working with Kate on the fine detail, ironing out all the inconsistencies and learning a fair amount along the way about how to use commas (or not, most of the time!) and by the beginning of July, this stage was complete and Kate asked me to think about my dedication and acknowledgements.

At the end of that week at the beginning of July, my mother-in-law was diagnosed with very advanced cancer and she died four days later. It was sudden and devastating and doubly hard to accept because we were still coming to terms with losing my father-in-law suddenly last year. It put the brakes on everything else that was happening. We somehow stumbled through to the end of term, and at some point in those couple of weeks I wrote my acknowledgements because it helped to focus on all the good people that I've been so privileged to meet and work with and learn from over the years. There have been many, and Cloudies will recognise quite a few of the names. This place itself, the Cloud, is the best thing that ever happened to me and my writing because it led me to so many different people and opportunities. (And on a side-note, I was looking through some of my old blogs earlier, where I talk about rejection and writing troubles and strategies and perseverance, and I had forgotten in all the excitement of the last few months just how far I've come since I joined the Cloud back in 2009.)

At the end of July, I was sent the page proofs to check through. I didn't really know what this was until I opened it - it turned out to be my book with typesetting and layout complete, but printed on paper rather than bound in a book. There's something very different about reading your book with the typesetting and layout compared to reading it as a Word document. It was starting to feel very real! However, it arrived mid-funeral planning, and finding time to sit down with it was impossible to begin with, but everyone at Transworld were incredibly supportive and lovely and the initial deadline was extended.

I finished reading the proof pages on Sunday, tweaked a bit more on Monday, and yesterday I caught a train to London, proofs in my bag, for a meeting at Transworld where I met the team (I know! My book has a team!): editor, publicist, marketing, sales, design... It's hard to take on board just how many people are involved in the production of a book, and even harder to understand that they are all working for *my* book! It was a brilliant meeting, and a brilliant bunch of people who all understand and love Jesika as much as I do. And.... *drumroll*.... Rich Shailer showed me his artwork for the cover.

Home Book Cover

I'm completely blown away by how perfect it is for the book I have written. Every time I look at it, I see another layer of meaning. It's just brilliant. And the cherry on top was seeing Kit de Waal's quote and realising that an author I admire (My Name is Leon – excellent book - go read it!) not only read my book but provided a quote for its cover.

What next? The book is due to be published in February next year, but the rest is a bit hazy. I was listening, but it was a lot to take in, plus I was concentrating a lot on not laughing hysterically or bursting into tears.



  • SecretSpi
    by SecretSpi 11 months ago
    Hats off to you - you certainly have come a long way, and I admire your persistence for sticking with it, thick and thin. In fact, right at the beginning of the Cloud, Harry told me a story about 'another writer' who I eventually identified, and that story has been a source of inspiration since.

    Very sorry to hear about your mother-in-law - what a dreadful shock and so tough for Mr Skylark and the whole family. It goes to show that behind even the most successful author, there is a human being with a life, worries, joy, bereavement, little niggles etc. etc.

    Anyway, über-chuffed for you and look forward to reading this one.

    P.S. Will have to get used to 'Amanda'!
  • Skylark
    by Skylark 11 months ago
    Thank you, Spi, and re Amanda, yes, me too!!
  • AlanP
    by AlanP 11 months ago
    Extreme highs and lows but through it all you have made it. Life eh? Can't live without it. I always thought you would be one that would make it. Well done. I expect my copy to be signed.
  • Skylark
    by Skylark 11 months ago
    Of course, Alan :-)
  • Debi
    by Debi 11 months ago
    Let's take a moment to reflect on the 'firsts' here:

    * Harry always told me Mandy was WW's first client, and the first person he did a critique for under the WW banner.
    * Mandy was on the first ever self-edit course, back in 2011.
    * Mandy's novel is based on her short story, A Home Without Moles, which was the first story in the first edition of Stories for Homes.
    * Mandy was my first official mentee - and will remain my only one for the foreseeable future.

    What an incredible achievement - and a perfect cover for her brilliant debut novel. No one deserves this more.
  • stephenterry
    by stephenterry 11 months ago
    Great update and great end result. The amount of work that goes into a published book by you and your team is enormous, and I can see why only the best M/S's get accepted. Excellent news, and fingers crossed it'll sell millions.
  • Jill
    by Jill 11 months ago
    Echo all the comments above, Skylark. Well deserved success. Sending many congratulations in respect of 'Home' and also condolences for your and your family's sad losses. Look forward to reading and no doubt being very moved by 'Home' next year.
  • Hilly
    by Hilly 11 months ago
    Absolutely all the above. You give us all hope. Well done and good luck with the next stage of your adventure.
  • Squidge
    by Squidge 11 months ago
    And to add to Debi's list of firsts... I think Skylark was my first friend on the Cloud when I joined. It is so good to see your achievements, Mandy - especially in light of what your family's gone through in the last twelve months - and you are an inspiration. Wishing you much success with Jesika xx
  • J.net
    by J.net 11 months ago
    Wow, what a journey, Skylark, and how heartening to hear that you carried on along it regardless of everything life threw at you. Fascinating to read about the agent/publishing process as you progressed, and Debi's right - no-one deserves this better, apart from which you are a top-notch person who held out the hand of friendship right from my first, daunting, visit to York. Much love to you - and I can't wait to buy my copy.
  • mike
    by mike 11 months ago
    Dear Skylark,
    Best wishes for your book and I can only echo what other people said,. I will buy a copy as it will be available in bookshops. (I cannot buy over the internet.)
    I think you wise to have persevered with a traditional publishing route. I had been trying to edit a grandfather's novel and the project has been rather abandoned for lack of professional input.
  • Noodledoodle
    by Noodledoodle 11 months ago
    Delighted for you, Sky and thank you so much for sharing your journey with us. Wishing you heaps and heaps of success and cannot wait to read it xx
  • Skylark
    by Skylark 11 months ago
    Thank you, everyone. I can't say it enough that I would not be where I am now without the help, support and encouragement from an enormous number of people, amongst whom there are many Cloudies :-)

    @Debi - couldn't have done it without you
    @OFP - I thought it would be difficult handing my 'baby' over to a team of people but it's been fantastic because they're working with me and completely understand the book and characters. It's been another learning process, but a positive one. Plus, if I'm not working on something, I'm bored, so although there have been times when juggling various commitments has got a bit hairy, I'm happiest when I'm being productive :-)
    @stephenterry @jill @hilly @mike - thank you all :-)
    @Squidge - and you were one of my first friends too, and an inspiration with all you have achieved (and my boys agree!)
    @J.net - our chats at York are one of the things I look forward to - are you coming this year?
  • Skylark
    by Skylark 11 months ago
    Crossed with you Noodles - thank you!
  • Tony
    by Tony 11 months ago
    A really inspiring story. Hats off to you, 'Amanda' :-) And thanks for making the time to share it with us.

    As for 'firsts', you were the first Cloudie I met at the first WW conference in York. You were easily recognisable as you were very pregnant with your first child. (I think it was your first.) To think how far you have come since then. Very well done; hearty congratulations - and I want to buy a signed copy, too, please! Can't wait for February.
  • John Taylor
    by John Taylor 11 months ago
    It's been quite a journey, Skylark, and it's been the deepest privilege to travel with you a good deal of the way. I didn't know a children's book could be so scary (in a good way) until I started reading your growing novel Stone Dead, back in (I think) late 2010. Your writing gripped me from the start – I still think there's a place for that book – and I've seen your confidence grow through some breathtaking short stories, and then following Jesika's journey from Stories for Homes to Home. The leaps of imagination into Jesika's head really make me stop in wonder.
    And alongside all that, your friendship and encouragement has kept me writing and hoping, and you've made me a better writer. Seeing this book cover, that so perfectly fits Jesika's story, fills me with hope. Good things are on the way xxx
  • RichardB
    by RichardB 11 months ago
    Such talent! Such perseverance! It's obviously been a long hard road, but you got there. Congratulations! You are an example to us all.
  • Seagreen
    by Seagreen 11 months ago
    Oh, this is marvellous! Well done, you!
  • Cissy
    by Cissy 11 months ago
    How wonderful, congratulations! *Deep bow* and look forward to reading it!
  • Philippa
    by Philippa 11 months ago
    I am thrilled, thrilled, THRILLED by this news. Since witnessing your freak out in response to the deluge of agent offers at FoW16, I have been thinking of you regularly and wondering how it was all progressing. It was great to see your tweet when you signed the contract and now... that cover!!! I will be on-it-like-a-bonnet to buy when it's out in February. Wow. I am just so thrilled (did I say that?)

    So sorry to hear about your mother-in-law. Thoughts to all your family.
  • Hil
    by Hil 11 months ago
    Very interesting (and encouraging and uplifting and exciting!) to read about your journey, Skylark. Sorry to hear about your mother-in-law. Best wishes to you and your family. xxx Also, of course, can't wait to read the book!
  • L.
    by L. 11 months ago
    Sorry to hear about your mother-in-law. Best wishes to you and your family. Congratulations on your book being published and that Kit de Waal's seal of approval! I look forward to reading it.
  • Berks
    by Berks 11 months ago
    Congrats Sky! Nothing new to say that hasn't been said already, but well done nonetheless! Also sorry to hear about the loss, but the triumph through adversity is something i'm sure she would be super proud of you for. xx
  • Mezz
    by Mezz 11 months ago
    Well done, Skylark. Just adding my congratulations.
  • BellaM
    by BellaM 11 months ago
    This is such a wonderful culmination to a mind-boggling amount of hard work and dedication. You deserve it. Hope it becomes a best-seller.
  • Raine
    by Raine 11 months ago
    You've had such a brutal time of things these last two years, Sky. It would be enough to derail a lot of people, but instead you've managed to cope with both those lows and the frantic, dizzying highs on this publishing adventure. You deserve champagne and chocolate and probably a holiday!! Well done, chica, I am so happy for you and so excited to see this taking wonderful shape.
  • Skylark
    by Skylark 11 months ago
    @Tony - you were the first I met at that festival too, I believe. And I remember ending up on a table with you and Whisks and John and others feeling like I'd known you all for years, even though we'd only met in RL minutes earlier. It was my second child I was pregnant with - and my first proper, just-for-me, child-free weekend away from the first!
    @John - a privilege always to travel with you too :-)
    @Philippa - I'm definitely handling The Fear a bit better. That was a rollercoaster weekend!
    @Giselle - see you there! :-)
    @Raine - don't worry, I've indulged in the first two on a few occasions and a holiday is just round the corner :-)

    And thank you everyone for your kind words. You are all so lovely.
  • Skylark
    by Skylark 11 months ago
    Also, it has been a really tough couple of years but I am surrounded in life and online by people who continually make the best of whatever situation they are in. It's not hard to find people to draw inspiration from. My mother-in-law was the best example of all, living most of her adult life suffering from chronic pain yet getting on with life and always with the most wicked sense of humour. And even in the last year, which she said often was the hardest, most difficult year of her life, she never stopped finding things to laugh about and she never stopped looking forwards. It's so much easier not to get dragged under when you have people like that giving you the best example of how to live well.
  • Jillybean
    by Jillybean 11 months ago
    This really is inspiring, Skylark, but I am so thrilled for you. It's been a tough few years - and from your other blogs a tough journey - but you've taken it by storm. Best wishes for the success of 'Home'. Hope you're willing to sign copies for a few old cloudie friends when it's released ;)
  • Sandra
    by Sandra 11 months ago
    So very very good to hear of the success of your book, Sky, (although sorry how much it had to go hand in hand with sorrow at times. And although I've no idea what your book is about, the cover is a wonderful 'must buy' piece of artwork.
  • John Taylor
    by John Taylor 11 months ago
    I knew you would appreciate the cover, Sandra. I've actually never seen a book cover with so many layers of meaning directly related to the pages inside the cover. But to say much more would be sending out spoilers.
  • Daedalus
    by Daedalus 11 months ago
    You know what I think of all this Sky - for such a talented writer and such a unique voice, only the best will do. So richly deserved. It's bittersweet I'm sure, but as a reward for ability and dedication to the cause this deal and the attention the publisher is lavishing on the book is no more than fair. I'm looking forward to seeing the debut novel prize lists.
  • Daedalus
    by Daedalus 11 months ago
    PS I'm very intrigued by the cryptic comments on the cover, though I'm not sure I needed another reason to read this as soon as it comes out
  • AlanP
    by AlanP 11 months ago
    And here's a hostage to fortune. I have seen bits of this, although not recently. But as it's out there, I can see telly in this. Wouldn't that be something.
  • John Taylor
    by John Taylor 11 months ago
    That made me smile, Alan. I'm thinking of all the takes that would be needed with very young child actors! But as a Miyazaki-style animation, it would be simply stunning.
  • J.net
    by J.net 11 months ago
    Yes, Sky, I'm coming to York, ready to run the gauntlet again with my own WIP. Can't wait to see you x
  • Skylark
    by Skylark 11 months ago
    @jillybeans - of course :-)
    @sandra - it is indeed a beautiful thing and I am a very lucky author!
    @daedalus - there are many cryptic clues hiding in the cover ;-)
    @alanp/@john - wouldn't that be something - though I can't even begin to imagine it!
    @j.net - hooray!! See you there :-)
    @ofp - thanks, and I will :-)
  • Daedalus
    by Daedalus 11 months ago
    John - Studio Ghibli, what a great idea!
  • Barb
    by Barb 11 months ago
    What a journey you've been on! So sorry for your loss.
    But also big congrats on this fabulous achievement!
  • Lizzielion
    by Lizzielion 11 months ago
    A fantastic achievement. Well done. Hard work really does pay off...oh, and bags of talent. Hope your book becomes a best seller. X
  • Skylark
    by Skylark 11 months ago
    Thank you Barb and Lizzielion :-)
  • Woolleybeans
    by Woolleybeans 11 months ago
    So pleased for you, Skylark. It's exciting following your posts on this. :)
  • KazGinnane
    by KazGinnane 11 months ago
    So happy for you, Skylark! What an amazing achievement. Congratulations and ENJOY! x
  • Newbie
    by Newbie 11 months ago
    Well done, Skylark. Looking forward to buying it. Very sorry for your loss.
  • sirtanicmills
    by sirtanicmills 10 months ago
    Just called in Sky, as I do every month or two.

    This was the sweetest news :) Put me down for a few signed copies!!
  • Skylark
    by Skylark 10 months ago
    Thank you, Woolley, Kaz, Newbie and Sirtanic. Sirtanic, I missed you again! Hope all is well with you :-)
  • Marina
    by Marina 10 months ago
    I really enjoyed reading this post, Skylark, despite the news about your poor mother in law. Many congratulations.
  • Skylark
    by Skylark 10 months ago
    Thank you, Marina :-)
  • Bric
    by Bric 9 months ago
    Late to this. What a wonderful blog. Can't wait to read Jessika's story. So sorry to hear about the in-laws. Rough, tough stuff is life.
  • Skylark
    by Skylark 9 months ago
    Thanks, Bric. Life isn't ever one thing or another, is it? We've had all the extremes for the last couple of years!
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