My Route To Publication by Adrian Dawson

On September 5, 2011, in Article, Author, Books, by Milo

by Adrian Dawson

Adrian Dawson

Adrian Dawson

Picture the scene… It’s late summer 1999 and a young writer has just finished the first manuscript he’s ever been truly happy with. Inside another novel he really likes the agent who represented said book is thanked and so he decides to send him a copy. Throwing etiquette fiercely to one side he bags up the entire tome and, at great expense, sends this weighty package all the way down to London. He does not know who this agent is specifically, only the agency he works for and in those carefree pre-internet days that was about as far as his basic research took him. All he does know is that said agent likes the same kind of book that said author likes, so this must be the agent for him. It’s a done deal.

So he sits back and waits. Patiently.

A week or so later that same author, deciding that patience is a vastly overrated concept, picks up the phone and contacts said agency only to be told, quite tersely, that his work is in the slush pile and will be read within the next 6-8 weeks.

So he sits back and waits. Again. Patience, it seems, is not an optional virtue.

Another week passes and said agent calls said author. At 9pm on a Monday night, no less. He asks who else has been sent this manuscript and is told, quite honestly “No-one!” “Don’t!” he says, so excitedly that to put it in writing requires an overuse of the Shift-1 key. “I want it! I’m half way through! I love it and I’ll be back to you in a week!” Placing the phone down and looking out of the window, the author sees that every bird in the parish is singing in harmony, the last vestige of a rainbow is dissecting the evening sky and everyone is dancing in the streets. Life is good.

“But wait,” he thinks. “What if said agent does not like the ending?” He voices this to a friend who says, “You worry too much!”

So author, wisely, decides to keep his fears to himself. It’s like Ronan Keating is singing on the radio: “You say it best, when you say nothing at all.” Quite right, Ronan. Well said. Though it might have been better if you too had said nothing at all, because guess what…

A week passes. The phone does its job and rings when somebody in London tells it to and said agent doesn’t like the ending. It’s ‘a bit flat’, he says. Rewrite it, better, and we’ll talk again.

Author spends two weeks wondering what the hell could be the problem with the diamond his mind has manufactured by applying heat and pressure to the graphite of a seemingly ordinary pencil. Surely, it’s perfect. Flawless. It can’t be any better. Except that it can. It takes those two weeks before another ending slips into the author’s head. Instead of one guy dying, he could become the key and another guy will take his place in the ‘no longer alive’ department. This is wicked. Wicked, and better.

Author submits revised manuscript and agent calls author for a meeting in London. Apparently, from where the author is sitting, that’s down south. They sit across a very nice table – mahogany, I think – and agent says, in the same excited tones he’s been known to use over the telephone: “This is probably the best ending to any book I have ever read. It’s genius. You say you like Michael Crichton but if your next novels are even half as good as this you’ll wipe the floor with Michael Crichton!”

Yes, he actually says that. But then, he’s an agent. Flattery is in his genes.

It doesn’t matter, because surgeons operate for approximate five hours but still cannot remove the smile from the author’s face. That is, until one of them hears the agent say, “In fact, the ending is so good it kind of makes the beginning look weak, doesn’t it?” One swift comment and the surgeon pounces. The smile is gone and in some bizarre transplant operation a Cheshire cat gets it instead.

Long story shorter, not least because the beginning gets tightened, and the agent sets about pitching said novel to publishers.

Let the feeding frenzy begin…

It turns out that this literary agency is quite large. At the time, they handled names like ‘J.K. Rowling’ and many other people that our author has heard of. He suddenly realises he’s just signed to one of the largest literary agencies in the UK. The sun is shining so brightly now that the author is convinced that the ozone layer has finally decided that the world can stick its CFCs up its own aerosol, has packed its bags and is now looking to touch down in pastures new – the ‘nzone’ perhaps.

Codex by Adrian Dawson

Rejections pile up. Without exception, all are flattering in the extreme. Rejections usually are. ‘Great writing’, ‘engrossing characters’, ‘thrilling action’, ‘excellent plot’. Unfortunately, however, there’s a computer in the author’s novel and that computer is quite powerful. Consequently, all the publishers are of the opinion that his novel is a bit ‘millenial’. You know, because it has computers and stuff.

A year passes; no takers. Another year passes and a gentleman by the name of Dan Brown appears on the scene. Dan writes about codes, and there are codes in our author’s novel so now his novel is rejected, with no less emphasis on flattery, not for being millennial (because being millennial is so the year before last) but for being too much like the guy who appeared out of nowhere years after our author completed his opus. Ah well.

Ten years pass. Our author has all but given up on his novel. He still thinks it has legs, and good looking legs at that, but some of the key themes in his work have been used by another guy in the years that followed. Our author can’t take those themes out of his novel because they are the novel’s raison d’être. In the meantime, with the literary agency long gone, he’s been hard at work on an untitled Magnum Opus #2 in which he creates a complex sequence of events spanning centuries. It’s an idea that no other author has ever tackled. If only he can think of a title which somehow sums up this sequence…?

Either way, no more unfair comparisons for this author. No, sir.

Then a small publisher appears in the author’s home town. They are only looking to publish science fiction, scientific fiction, religious thrillers and techno-thrillers and that’s right up our author’s street – almost literally. So, author, submits manuscript – for a laugh really – and they call him in. After lengthy discussions they outline their business model. Initially, they agree to publish digitally and, if it sells and generate hard cash, then a full scale print run will ensue.

On publication, author’s novel races to the top of the charts, ultimately becoming the number one best selling thriller of 2010 on the UK iBookstore. The print run follows and the success continues. Comparisons are drawn, that’s a given, but they are all favourable.

The sun is shining again. Codex, under Last Passage’s expert guidance is still doing phenomenally well. Sequence (a title which the author felt best summed up the theme of the novel) is released next week and the author – ‘Adrian Dawson’ – is hard at work on ‘[Sequoia]’. Author thinks he sees a rainbow and, when he’s finished writing his next chapter, he might just head off to see if he can find a pot of gold at the end of it.

It might take him ten years to find it, but he’s sure it’s there.

Adrian Dawson is the author of Codex and Sequence. For more information on Adrian and his books please take time out to visit his website and follow him on twitter.

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2 Responses to “My Route To Publication by Adrian Dawson”

  1. James Aach says:

    Congrats on the lucky break. I’ve read a lot of publication stories and it seems once you have a good product to offer, mainstream publication usually comes down to either personal connections or happenstance. It’s an interesting business model. I’m always happy to see the break coming to someone who has put their time in. My own tale, which has not quite ended, is at http://www.lablit.com/article/83

  2. James Aach says:

    I think I hit Post before providing email and website, but it took the comment anyway. I’ve put them in this comment. You can delete – I just didn’t want to seem secretive. Regards, James Aach — author of “Rad Decision” – the insider novel of nuclear power.

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