Today I'm hosting a guest post from Anne Coates - author of Dancers in the Wind. She tells us all about her long road to publication.
"SHE IS HUNTING FOR THE TRUTH, BUT WHO IS HUNTING HER? Freelance journalist and single mother Hannah Weybridge is commissioned by a national newspaper to write an investigative article on the notorious red light district in Kings Cross. There she meets prostitute Princess, and police inspector in the vice squad, Tom Jordan. When Princess later arrives on her doorstep beaten up so badly she is barely recognisable, Hannah has to make some tough decisions and is drawn ever deeper into the world of deceit and violence. Three sex workers are murdered, their deaths covered up in a media blackout, and Hannah herself is under threat. As she comes to realise that the taste for vice reaches into the higher echelons of the great and the good, Hannah realises she must do everything in her power to expose the truth .... and stay alive."
Dancers in the Wind – the long journey to publication
I began writing Dancers in the Wind over 20 years ago. When I thought I had completed it, I sent it to a few agents I’d had dealings with in my role as an editor. Each agent liked it to a certain extent and offered suggestions – which I took on board – but even after changes, no one wanted to take it on.
At the time, as well as my journalism and editing, I began writing non-fiction books and I was having my short stories accepted in women’s magazines. Dancers in the Wind went the way of another novel I’d written (encouraged by an agent) and found it’s way into the bottom drawer of my filing cabinet. Almost forgotten but not quite…
Fast-forward two decades and, having a clear out, I discovered the manuscript (two actually the other still awaits my attention!) and having a free afternoon, I read it. I’d forgotten much of the action and detail so I was almost approaching it as an editor, rather than the writer.
By the time I’d finished reading, I was convinced the story was worth telling – but it needed some work. As I had changed computers and software several times since writing the original, I had to retype the whole thing. Touch-typing is not a skill I possess so it was an arduous task. I bought some dictating software but I found that almost as frustrating. I have never managed to train my Dragon!
Having printed out the pages, I then began the long revision process, checking and editing the timeline, adding and subtracting scenes, reading out loud chapter after chapter. Proof reading. In my other life as a journalist and editor we always had three people proofing. I had no such luxury until a friend and fellow editor offered to step into the breech…
Eventually I thought I had a viable manuscript. Then as I was reading through one last time I realised the ending was a bit weak. Immediately a much more sinister scene presented itself and I was pleased with the result.
Not so, however, with the agents I approached. One didn’t reply at all although I had met him and discussed sending the novel to him. One sent a standard rejection with advice to read her book (I had) and about two liked the idea – but not quite enough. A publisher in the US offered to take me on but the email they sent was full of so many mistakes that it didn’t bode well for their publishing skills.
Then I saw a tweet by a publisher looking for reviewers for one of his titles. And within a short while I had a review copy and an offer to read my manuscript, after I’d sent in the idea on Urbane Publications website.
Matthew Smith was not only enthusiastic about Dancers, he also bought into the idea of a trilogy. To say I was ecstatic is an understatement. A contract with a new independent publisher offering a dynamic and innovative publishing concept of collaboration and care was a dream come true.
So just before publication date for Dancers I submitted the manuscript for Death’s Silent Judgement to be published in May, with the third to be released in the autumn.
The journey to publication has been a marathon which finished in a sprint: from début crime novel to publishing three books – within twelve months or so (plus all those years of preparation).
Dancers in the Wind is out now and you can get it here: