Monday, May 13, 2013

100 Writers Project EXTRA: My first book (without pictures)

Because we want the 100 Writers Project to be inclusive, we've decided to include occasional "extras." At it's core, the 100 Writers Project is about first-time novelists, but some writers are already on their second or  third books. Some writers are published. And we want everyone to feel included and welcome in the 100 Writers community. In that spirit, we'd like to introduce Ken Magee!

I began writing seriously when I was in my late teens. That’s when I started a story called Dark Tidings, but then there was a long gap while I got a job and earned a living. All through that period, I got a recurring niggle which told me that someday I’d have to finish the book, partly just to prove to myself that I could do it.

In 2010, I decided that the time had come to get the book that was in me out. I tried to write every day, but that proved to be too difficult a discipline for me to follow. I’ve always been a bit of a lazy sort of guy, unless I’m under pressure e.g. if I have a deadline to meet. That meant that the best way to get the book finished was to pile on some pressure.

I think I also wanted some validation… was the story any good, was my writing style and ability up to scratch? I decided that I’d start looking for an agent or publisher, and if someone was interested then I’d have no choice other than to complete Dark Tidings.

I researched who’s who in my genre very carefully, Dark Tidings is a funny fantasy which lives under the tagline ‘ancient magic meets the Internet’. I knew there was no point in sending my fantasy to someone who only published romance or children’s books. Also, it was important to check that they were currently taking submissions and the only way to do that was by visiting their websites. They gave the very latest information, unlike listings in books, which get out of date very quickly. The websites also set out exactly what was required in the submission e.g. format, length, hard copy/email. Most of them seemed to want the first three chapters plus a synopsis of the whole story.

I compiled a list of potential agents and publishers. Then I set about editing, refining and polishing the first three chapters. In parallel, I wrote the story synopsis (which forced me to think through the complete story in more detail than I had previously). When I was happy with my work, I started submitting it to my list.

Then I waited, and waited. I used the time to further refine the three chapters and the synopsis. I’d decided not to have more than four submissions out at any one time, so when a rejection arrived, I sent out another enquiry. After seven standard rejection letters, I struck lucky with a small English publisher, Ragged Publishing.

They asked to see the completed manuscript. They wanted at least 90,000 words, but I’d only planned to do 50,000 so the pressure was really on.

As I said, I thrive under pressure and I found that, with someone pushing for the finished work, I was able to write all day, every day. The first draft was soon finished and I immediately passed it on to a professional proofreader/editor. I also worked on it in parallel searching out errors and improving the storyline. Between us, we got the job done and shipped the manuscript off to Ragged Cover... and they accepted it!

There was plenty more to do… design a cover, write the blurb, agree the contract etc., but that’s another story. Dark Tidings is now published and available in paperback, on the Kindle, Nook and Kobo. Here’s the Amazon link in case you’d like to check it out.

My name is Ken Magee and I’m an author. I live in Bangor, County Down. I worked for many years in the computer industry in a wide variety of roles including programming and sales. In the middle of it all, I served in the Royal Naval Reserve for five years... which was hard work, but fun. In 2010, I decided it was time to finish the book I’d started many years earlier (writing not reading). I would have finished it sooner, but life got in the way. The book’s now finished and published, but I don’t think any of the original story survived the process!
Follow him on Twitter

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