SO the novel is written: a sure-fire bestseller. It’s got everything – humour, action, mystery, suspense, so many twists, infact, that even Olympic gymnast Beth Tweddle would find it difficult to keep up.
Any moment now my phone will ring and the auction will start, London agents streaming in to offer me big, fat advances to throw in my lot with them. I know this is the way it happens because that was the way my friend Laura Kemp, author of the Mums chicklit series of novels (Mums Like Us, Mums on Strike and a third in the pipeline), told me she got her deal. I’ve images of my book sitting proudly in the window of Waterstones between Lee Child’s latest Reacher novel and JK Rowling’s Harry Potter box set.
Then I woke up. While I’m dreaming of a world where a reader at a top agency is engrossed in my every sentence, the truth is my superbly crafted prose are lying around on the floor of some office, jammed between someone’s hard-drinking private detective novel and another person’s Revenge of the Fairy King fantasy adventure. My poor old hero Micky Biggs is going to have to shout louder than an entire store cupboard of other leading characters to get noticed, and though Micky has plenty of Del Boy in him it’s a hard task. The full extent of the hard sell hits home for me when the rejection slips come rolling in.
First, though, a word about the title. It is going to be the first thing the agency sees of your novel apart from, perhaps, your introductory letter. In fact, I’m not even sure if they look at that before or after they’ve studied the sample chapters to make sure you can actually write. As my novel has a pretty heavy rugby-related theme I also wanted to inject a bit of the humour aspect into it from the word go so I began with “Rucks, Mauls and Sausage Rolls” – a play on words based on the old Ian Drury and the Blockheads single Sex and Drugs and Rock n Roll.
Here are some of the replies I got… all very pleasant but when others responded in the same way a pattern was developing. Thank you… Enjoyed reading… won’t fit in with our list.
Lowering my sights, I thought perhaps the Welsh publishing companies would go for it better. After all the Welsh love rugby, and sausage rolls and… I tinkered with the title. It became “Sex and Rucks and Sausage Rolls”. There wasn’t a massive amount of sex in the book, to be honest, but if EL James has taught me one thing it’s that sex sells.
Surely I would get someone to at least ask for the whole manuscript in Wales?