Wednesday, 6 June 2012

A chance meeting...

A year ago this month I attended the Winchester Writers' Conference. It wasn't my first visit and, as it turns out, it won't be my last, either.

Ten years ago I went along to the Conference for the first time, armed with an excerpt of my writing. At that time I had no prospects beyond an enthusiasm for words and a cache of stories in my head. It proved to be an inspirational visit, with agent interviews and a variety of educational sessions to hone your skills. I came away determined to forge ahead with my book, come what may.

In June 2011 I returned, this time with my self-published novel which I was to introduce at the Plenary session. I also took a book stand in the hope of selling some copies to fellow attendees. I did do so, but not as many as I'd hoped. After a long day on my feet, I was ready to pack up and go home when a lady stopped by my stand and asked about my book. She was an agent and had lived in South Africa. She asked for a copy and I gave her one, never imagining I would hear anything further from her. (I had, of course, sent the manuscript out to many agents in the past with no luck at all, so wasn't hopeful).

But I was wrong. A few days later she phoned me and said she'd loved the book and would I be interested in her representing me?
Would I indeed!
And that's where it started. I worked with her on refining the original manuscript (see last blog) and within a month or so my book landed up on the desk of an editor at a well-known publishing house. The Frankfurt Book Fair was coming up and the timing was perfect. The publishers bought the worldwide rights and subsequently sold translation rights to publishers in Holland, Italy, France, Germany, Spain and China. The book will also be published in the US.

So if I hadn't gone to the Winchester Writers' Conference, if I hadn't manned a stall all day, if I had instead left early to nurse my sore feet...
I would never have had the encounter with an agent who happened to love the book and chose to place it in front of a publisher who would turn out to love it, too.
How's that for luck?

At the end of this month I'll be going back to Winchester to say thank you, and to present the newly-titled The Housemaid's Daughter to the Plenary session, in advance of its publication in August.
Any of you budding authors out there, take heart. Miracles sometimes do happen!

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