Source: Review copy
Publication: 17 October 2019 from Thunder Point Ltd
RUN THE GAUNTLET
DI Donna Davenport and her team are under pressure.With the hunt on for the country’s most notorious cop killer, and an ongoing complex international investigation, the murder of a local thug during a football match is the last thing the police need.But as more incidents overload the police, and fear brings vigilante mobs onto the streets, suspicion grows that the mayhem is being orchestrated.
CUT AND RUN
One man can make it stop. With the city heading towards chaos and disaster Donna prepares to abandon caution and the rules, even if it means she is ostracised by her own team.
I am delighted to welcome Jackie McLean to my blog today to discuss her road to publication. Jackie’s latest novel, Run, is the final part of the trilogy that began with Toxic and was followed up with Shadows. Her books are set in the North East of Scotland and her protagonist, D.I. Donna Davenport is unusual in that every day she is living with a condition that would surprise people if they knew.
Jackie joins me today to discuss her publication process and what she has learned from her experience. Welcome Jackie and over to you.
The road to publication
My third crime novel, Run, was published in October, five years on from publication of my first one. Here, I’m going to talk about the road to publication, something of the publication process, and things I’ve learned along the way.
The first thing that I’ve learned, and that many aspiring writers may be unaware of, is how long the publication process can be. It can take a year or more from having your book accepted by a publisher to seeing it in print – and finding a publisher in the first place can take even longer than that.
When I finished the first in my series, Toxic, I decided to try and find an agent. This involved sending it out to several agents who were open to submissions for crime fiction. Agents receive many more submissions than they can ever hope to give full attention to, and so it can take a long time for an agent to get round to looking at one and responding to it. It’s a nerve wracking time for a writer, as you wonder what feedback (if any) you might hear, and as you try and temper your hopes and dreams, being all too aware of the very high chance of rejection.
As it happened, I did receive rejections from the agents I submitted to, although along with those came encouraging words, which helped. Next I sent Toxic into the Yeovil Literary Prize, where it was shortlisted. Emboldened by this, I made further revisions to the book, and prepared to send it directly to smaller independent publishers (which you can do without having an agent). I was fortunate that the first one I sent it to, ThunderPoint, were looking for new work, and they accepted Toxic for publication.
At that point, you then have to hand your book over to be edited by someone who is not your relative, and who does not have to say nice things about it – another thing that can be daunting for a writer! However, if you want to be published, you have to be prepared to see your book at this point as a joint venture. Fortunately for me, the editing process wasn’t too painful, although it did take some time – my editor had to have time to read it and decide on the changes she wanted; I then re-drafted the text based on her advice; she had to have time to read it again, and so on until the final edit was done.
This, I would say, is the second thing I learned about the road to publication – when you finish writing your book, it’s by no means the end. Be prepared to re-write it and re-write it again until your editor says it’s ready. While it’s your work, it’s the publisher who will be taking it to market (with the financial risks involved in that), and it’s important to trust their judgement about what’s going to work best.
Once the editing process is over, however, the remaining road to publication can be remarkably rapid. There’s the book cover to agree, and promotional activity to arrange (book shop events, social media book blog tours, and so on), and before you know it, publication day arrives. The third lesson I learned? Being a crime writer is a whole lot of fun! It’s a lot more important that I realised that you get as involved as possible in the crime fiction community. There are always events, festivals, and online chat to take part in, and it’s a very friendly and supportive community. If you’re a new writer, take the plunge and get involved – other writers, bloggers and readers will have your back.
Writing Toxic, took me a long time (more than ten years, in fact), because back then, writing was nothing more than a hobby. It didn’t matter how long I took to write a book, and it didn’t matter how many times I changed the ideas in it – it was only for my own amusement. Having a book published changed that for me. While I still write for enjoyment as much as I always have, I’m now much more acutely aware of deadlines. So, lesson number four…
Once you get a book published, people will immediately start asking you when the next one is coming out. For me, it was three years later, because I still had to write the book! If I was to do things all over again, I would wait until I had two (three would be better) books ready before approaching a publisher.
One final lesson? The thrill of seeing your book in print never diminishes. I was just as excited with the third one as I was with the first – maybe even more, so here’s to the fourth book (which I’m writing feverishly as we speak…).
Thanks so much Jackie and I look forward eagerly to your next book (no pressure!)
Jackie lives in Glasgow and has a varied background, including being a government economist, a political lobbyist, and running a pet shop in Glasgow’s Southside (ask her anything about pets). She currently works with East Ayrshire Council, where until recently her job involved frequent visits to Kilmarnock Prison.
She also forms part of the Dangerous Dames and Murder & Mayhem along with a number of other crime writers. She was one of Bloody Scotland’s 2019 Crime in the Spotlight authors.
Until recently, Jackie ran the writing group at Waterstones Braehead, and has also run creative writing sessions with the men in Kilmarnock Prison.