Confessions Of A Debut Novelist.

Posted on 18th March, 2017

During the week of this blog, it will be March 22nd, three months to the day until The Deserter's Daughter is published, so I thought I'd share what has been happening since I signed with Allison & Busby and officially became a debut novelist.


It turns out that the most obvious feature of debut novelist status is getting novel number 2 written. My contract with A&B includes the rather scary deadline of July 1st. Six months to write a book! I've never written one in under a year before, let alone in six months, but there's nothing like a deadline to concentrate the mind. Between the day job and the writing, I'm working seven days a week. It's hard work but I'm managing. I have asked at the day job if I can drop a day a week, but so far it hasn't happened.


Quite early on in the debut novelist process - much sooner than I was expecting, actually - there was the excitement of seeing the Amazon page on which The Deserter's Daughter is available for pre-order, though my pleasure was tempered somewhat by the fact that Amazon listed the book by title only and my name as author was missing. But that disappointment was nothing compared to what happened next.


When the author's name appeared on the page... it wasn't my name.


That mistake was there for nearly a fortnight, during which time I asked for the mistake to be rectified, as did A&B and various wonderful writer friends, including Catherine Boardman of Catherine's Cultural Wednesdays and fellow debut novelist Maddie Please, who will be appearing on my blog in April; also Kirsten Hesketh, who will be here next week, Karen Coles, author of the edge-of-the-seat Mesmeris trilogy, Jane Ayres and Christina Banach, author of the wonderful YA novel Minty. I should also thank Chris Manby for her excellent suggestion as to what I should do with the Other Name.


Earlier this week, I had my author photo taken. Some people manage to look marvellous on a casual snap, but since this picture will go on the book jacket (yikes!), I decided to go to a professional photographer. As the photos were being taken, two stood out as the likeliest candidates and when I was sent the link to download the set, one was just right for the purpose. If you're in North Wales and you want to have your picture taken, I recommend North Shore Studios. Geoff and Jane are highly professional but at the same time friendly and relaxed. They also displayed extraordinary patience with an author who started off wanting one sort of picture and then changed her mind and went for a completely different look.


Also this week, the copy edits for The Deserter's Daughter arrived. Apparently, the copy editors commented to my editor at Allison & Busby on how rare it was to work on an MS that turned up so few queries. Excuse me one moment while I try to look modest. It was clear from the queries they did flag up, however, that they had investigated every detail in my book. For example, The Deserter's Daughter is set in a real place, Chorlton in Manchester, and includes some real roads and landmarks, as well as one or two I made up. The copy editors checked my spelling of all the real places and also queried my fictional places in case they were mistakes. My heroine's family lives in (fictional) Wilton Lane - was this an error? Did I really mean Wilton Road?


And just to round off the week in a happy way, the lovely pansies that saga writer Carol Rivers sent me when I signed with Allison & Busby have produced a second flush of blooms. Perfect!


Have a great week, everyone. Think of me on Wednesday - three months to go!    



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Comments (20)

Thanks for your message, Kirsten. Does it feel real yet? Good question. Sometimes yes, other times, no. The copy edits felt very real - and scary. The copy editors were marvellous - so thorough. And I have just been asked to write my Author's Note and Dedication. Mainly, though, it is book 2 that gets the attention and fills my mind. Looking forward to welcoming you back here to my blog this weekend for your monthly round-up of your writing life. xx
Christina, a thousand apologies for not including your name in the list of friends who nagged Amazon on my behalf. I have rectified this oversight. I am replying to your lovely comment at gone 10pm, having been at the computer since a little after 9am, getting the copy edits finished. I sent them off to my editor about half an hour ago. Thanks for your kind words. xx
It's all so exciting Susanna and so very well deserved. Are you still pinching yourself, or does it feel 'real' yet? So very proud of you and all you have achieved and will be thinking of you tomorrow!! xx
What an exciting time you're having, Susanna! So frustrating for you, though, that the wrong name was attributed to your book (I also messaged Amazon to ask them to amend it). Very happy to see that they've corrected the mistake. I've pre-ordered my copy of The Deserter's Daughter - can't wait to read it! Hope the copy edits are going well. As for book 2, I have no doubt that it will be shaping up beautifully. Enjoy the pre-publication ride. You deserve it!
C xxx
Thank you, Jan. I'm so glad you enjoyed reading my blog. You aren't the first person to say the time will fly, but actually I would prefer it to slow down a bit so I feel I'm getting more writing time for book 2! Thanks for dropping by, Jan. I enjoyed reading your current blog about writers' notebooks.
It's so good to read about the last lap of your journey towards publication, Sue. I can't wait to read 'The Deserter's Daughter'. Very well done on the comments from your copy editor(s). The next three months will fly and you'll soon see your name on the cover of your book! 🙂📚
Jen, thanks for your support. I agree with you that the role of the copy editor is hugely important. I am filled with admiration for the skill and professionalism of mine. I feel that my book has passed through a very safe pair of hands - or two pairs, as it was a team of two copy editors.
Kate, thanks for being interested in my photo. I didn't like to include it - that would have seemed terribly big-headed. As for thinking you couldn't write a book in six months - I bet you could, if circumstances put you in that position. Thanks for dropping by.
Carol, how lovely to hear from you. Thank you for your kind words. I agree with you that challenges bring out your strengths. I'm so pleased that your next book is going to be the first in a series. Stand-alone novels are wonderful, of course, but you can't beat a good series!
Thank you for sharing this 'countdown' to your book release, Susanna. I'm so looking forward to reading 'The Deserter's Daughter,' and will share it with North American friends.

Nothing focuses the mind quite like a publisher's deadline, and you know I'm cheering you on as you write your second book. Congrats on 'clean' copyedits and a shout-out to all copyeditors who have the keen eyes for detail all authors need. xx
I was hoping for a sneaky look at your author photo, but you're clearly keeping us in suspense! Well done for the great comments from the copy editors. I'm sure book 2 will be brilliant too. I'm not sure I could write a book in six months, so you definitely have my admiration! x
Keep the mind set, Susanna! You are doing brilliantly. And don't we find our greatest enlightenments in the difficulties? Your Ying and Yang are enviable. Thank you for all your news, to be read and savoured many times before bed! xx
Catherine, I'm so happy that you and the other LLs are part of this exciting time. We all support one another and it makes such a difference. Looking forward to the next lunch!
Julie, thank you for your lovely comment. With two novels under your belt, you'll know exactly how I'm feeling at the moment. Thanks for saying you will read my book - I do hope you enjoy it.
Moira, I'm glad you enjoyed the blog. Yes, the positive feedback from the copy editors was most flattering. It has made me determined that the second book will be of an equally high standard.
Only three months to go! So exciting and privilege to be a small part of your journey xx
How exciting to know that in just a few months, your début novel will at last be out there :) There's nothing quite like that feeling. I know you're working incredibly hard but you're so determined that I'm confident you will meet the deadline for your second book, especially as there were so few queries in your copy edits for The Deserter's Daughter. Well done again!

Good luck with everything. I'm so looking forward to reading your book.
Lovely blog, what a journey you have been on, looking forward to reading The Deserters Daughter, and well done on all the positive comments re your MS
Thanks, Karen. I'm not sure about wanting the three months to fly by. I've got a lot of work to do on book 2 and I need as much time as possible! Thanks for commenting. Enjoy the rugby this afternoon.
It's so lovely to follow your exciting journey to publication, Susanna. Can't wait to read The Deserter's Daughter! Three months will fly by, I'm sure. So happy for you :)