Thursday, February 26, 2015

The road to publication-Tricia McGill

Ah, what a rocky road it is. There aren’t many writers who can tell you their first completed manuscript was picked up by an editor at the first attempt. I fear that if they do tell you this they might be telling fibs.

Each writer’s personal journey is different in so many ways from their fellow authors. In each journey there are many hurdles to jump and lessons to learn along the way to publication.

The hardest to take at the start are those pesky rejection letters. But then we learn that each one is really just another stepping stone and when all is said and done they just reinforce our desire to write and our determination to pass the publication milestone (that depends of course on the level of our desire to see our books read).

While sorting through old letters and papers the other day on one of my spasmodic tidy-ups I came across my first valued critique. This four page document was written by a lady I never had the good fortune to meet, but her words of wisdom set me on the road to eventual publication. Her name was Leticia, and unfortunately although I have hunted high and low I cannot find the personal letter that accompanied this critique so cannot recall her surname. If by any chance Letitia should happen on these words someday I want to thank her from the bottom of my heart for the encouragement she gave me to keep going along my rocky road. The wording went something like this: “Unfortunately I am not a publisher of fiction but when your husband walked into my office with your manuscript in his hand and asked me if I would be kind enough to read it, I could do nothing but agree to his plea. He assured me you were a wonderful writer and had been disillusioned by one or two harsh rejections. I can see why you are a romance writer as you have your own love affair going.”

Not word for word, but you get the picture. Leticia actually worked for a medical journal publisher but that didn’t deter my husband who had more cheek than I would ever possess. To him a publisher was a publisher, so that was that. So, some time later the critique arrived. I can’t remember if my husband picked it up or if it came by post. Leticia went into the marketing problems I had with this novel, then went on to give me her honest opinions on each character and how I could improve them, how I could change my story to make it more marketable. As I said at the start, this was over four full pages. But it was the words mixed in with the first few paragraphs that were uplifting.

“Well, in line with my remarks, serving the bad news first, the good news for you at this moment is that I found your writing very impressive. You show a real talent and the ability to become an even better craftsman as you go along.”

Well, that was all I needed. I was off, scribbling like mad (I had not acquired typewriter or computer at that stage). Of course there were many more hurdles to cross and mountains to climb but that one letter was my personal catalyst. 

Next step was to join a reputable critique group. One of these groups and the best was the Melbourne Romance Writers Guild, where I met fellow Books We Love authors Margaret Tanner and Cheryl Wright along with many other talented writers who taught me so much.

In case you are wondering which of my books was that first scribbled manuscript, it never did get published in its original state, but ended up with many changes so that it was unrecognizable from my first effort which was called “Trip to Paradise” and as Leticia warned me the title was the books' main marketing problem. I notice on looking through published books on the internet there are currently many books with that name or Paradise in their titles, but I guess times have changed and my characters’ mildly romantic trip to Far North Queensland way back then is not what they mean by paradise now.

The sad part is that my husband died before my first book was published but I dedicated it to him. Without his perseverance on my part and his faith in me it might never have happened. He was the wind beneath my wings.

You can find all my Books We Love books here: 
Or read excerpts on my web page: