I was lucky enough today to attend a talk as part of the Books East Festival with three exceptional new authors: Eimear McBride (A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing), Andrew Michael Hurley (The Loney) and Jessica Cornwell (The Serpent Papers). It was hosted by Sam Jordison, author, journalist and co-director of Galley Beggar Press, a Norwich-based publishing company (which is worth checking out btw, they are quite unique in their approach. They are one of the few that accept unsolicited manuscripts so I’m now waiting with bated breath for them to reopen for submissions…).
Under the heading of Bright Futures, the three writers described their respective routes to publication, which was both encouraging and inspiring. I was astonished to learn that it took nine years for Eimear McBride to get published? She endured rejection after rejection for five years – FIVE YEARS – before she put the thing in a drawer to forget about it. This is Bailey’s, Goldsmiths and umpteen-other-awards winning modern masterpiece, A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing, we’re talking about here. Being rejected time after time after time. Although some of them ‘were really nice rejections’ apparently. Well that’s alright then.
Andrew Michael Hurley got rejected by so many agents he submitted to an independent publisher, who agreed to take The Loney on and did an original print run of 300. Then some guy at a bigshot publishing house read it, loved it, bought the rights and the rest, as they say, is winning the Costa First Book Award no less.
Jessica Cornwell’s story is equally as exciting, with her manuscript ending up in a bidding war that resulted in her getting a three book deal to complete the trilogy. It’s not her fault her Grandad is John Le Carre… That aside, she read an extract of The Serpent Papers and it sounds fantastic.
I shall be reading all three of these books, beginning with the Joyce-esque A Girl Is A Half Formed Thing.
For now, please excuse me. I have an unpublished masterpiece to work on…