On the Perils of Publishing

This may come as a surprise, but I don’t only write novels. This year, in fact, I will be a contributor to both The World Wide Ward Cookbook and Famous Family Nights. I also had an article published in LDS Living magazine a few years ago. However, the publications I am most often seen in are dull periodicals issued by the various branches of the British legal profession. My day job, you see – the one that actually pays the mortgage - involves regularly writing articles to advise British lawyers on subjects such as stress and alcoholism.

Recently the two worlds collided when the Law Society Gazette published an article about solicitors who are also authors. Most of them were much more prolific and successful than me and yet they too still needed to keep the day job in order to pay the mortgage. There were two points raised in the article that made me start nodding furiously to myself and mentally muttering “Amen”. First, a quote by Sean Longley, a London lawyer and author, who said, “You are built up to the idea that [getting a book published] is great and magical and life-changing, and it’s not. It just becomes something that you have done.”

I have rarely read anything so true (with acknowledgements and apologies to Holy Scripture). Holding your book in your hands is a wonderful moment, but people don’t bow and scrape as I walk past, and I still have to trudge though the rain to collect the children from school. Once the “Oh, you wrote a book, how clever!” comments have run their course, everyone politely forgets that they have a genius in their midst, and no one really wants to hear about what I’m working on at the moment.

Another author mentioned in the piece commented “Staying published is as hard, if not harder, than getting published in the first place.” Further nodding and muttering on my part. Covenant just turned down my latest masterpiece, the once I designed specifically to appeal to their audience (exotic location, romance, comedy and intrigue) and before that it took me six years to get a publisher for Easterfield. Which, you’ll notice, hasn’t been shortlisted for a Whitney, because there are so many, many authors who are much better at their craft than I am. An author’s life is a tough one, and those who are good enough at it to be nominated to an award are worthy of my bowing and scraping.

Anyway, I have had something else published very recently. A Letter to the Editor of the Law Society Gazette, congratulating him on such a pertinent and excellent article.


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