How did first time author, Garth Gunston, go from complete unknown, to offer of a publishing contract, in less than eight months? He believes it was two accidental steps that made the difference.
I had done all the text book advice actions: buying and studying the Writers’ and Artists’ Year book; writing a submission cover letter and synopsis plus my first three chapters and getting my manuscript seriously proof read.
I had endured my first rejection after a friend had recommended my first novel, The Tissue Trail (now called The Tissue Trail Conspiracy), to a top UK literary agent, Curtis Brown.
I had moved on to the normal process of selecting agents and publishers from The Yearbook, who were listed as handling my sort of material – a conspiracy thriller based on Singapore’s zero tolerance Class A drug laws – when my wife mentioned a publisher who claimed to specialize in new authors – Zeus. I duly submitted the requisite information, but for some reason, they refused to acknowledge my submissions. When I telephoned to ask why, they told me they did not deal with unsolicited material and recommended that I approach somebody like Writer’s Services.
I followed their advice and found that Writer’s Services were a group of online literary editors who provided assistance to writers, from critiquing submissions, to reviewing whole manuscripts, and even working with authors to recommend books which were good enough to agents and publishers with whom they were associated.
I sent them my submission, and, although they were critical of my ‘too quirky’ covering letter, they were complimentary about the synopsis and first chapters and encouraged me to submit the full manuscript. I did and was rewarded with the sort of response I thought could only happen in a dream: : “The Tissue Trail… is a complex but well thought out thriller – it flows with tension and intrigue. We think this is good enough to recommend to agents and enclose our instructions as to how to approach xxxxxxxx.” I thought that whatever happened from this point, the advice from Zeus to approach a group of professional editors had proved invaluable.
This had happened by accident, and it was a second accident which proved to be even more significant. I had continued looking for the ‘get published’ magic bullet, and set about reviewing various outfits offering a variety of publishing services. These included a Texas based operation, SBPRA, to whom I had sent my submission. They almost immediately approved my manuscript. I didn’t take this very seriously as it was pretty clear that I was an anonymous number in an automated and very large pool.
However, this lead to my eldest daughter – a terrific graphic designer and digital formatting expert – to suggest I put my synopsis on Harper Collins showcase website, Authonomy. I did, and within a few days, I had picked up the support of an American author, who told me she thought The Tissue Trail was good, and that she would recommend it to her publisher in Maryland USA.
Eleven weeks later, Old Line Publishing (OLP), a fast growing progressive publishing operation emailed to tell me they liked The Tissue Trail and would like to publish. I was delighted. To have an offer from a publisher recommended by an existing author who already worked with them, took 90% of the risk out of the decision to go with them. I studied the contract and was immediately impressed by the speed and professionalism of their responses.
From finishing writing The Tissue Trail Conspiracy on 13th March 2013 it had taken eight months to be offered a publishing contract with a target date for publication of 28th March 2014.
If this was not enough, OLP suggested commissioning a film script and a means of raising the money to pay for it. On 9th January 2014, less than ten months from completion of the book manuscript, work started on the film version!
One thing is for certain, this journey has reinforced my belief that tenacity, and perhaps a hint of bloody mindedness, are indispensable when trying to work a miracle.
The Tissue Trail did in fact appear on time in both e-book and paperback versions on 28th March 2014. The first paperback editions appeared in the UK on Monday 30th March. The scheduled date for completion of the film script is April 30th.
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Illustration of the development of The Tissue Trail front cover by Caroline Gunston