SO the top English agents don’t want me, but I’m only just starting to appreciate what the competition is like out there. Never mind, the novel is largely based in Wales and the Welsh know good writing when they see it. At least they keep telling me that: “Dylan Thomas this… Dylan Thomas that”. Perhaps I can use my honorary Welshness to find a publisher. I’m lucky here, too. I have an “in”. OK, it’s only a slight one, but I used to work with Penny at the Western Mail and Echo news organisation in Cardiff and she now works for Seren, an Independent Welsh publisher which has a growing reputation. I also know that she is quite a sports fan, which is bound to help when my novel involves a. a Welsh newspaper and b. sport, in particular Rugby Union, a Welsh favourite. Where can it go wrong?
I make contact, usual stuff… cover letter, sample chapters and, yippee! Penny gets back to me and says she likes it. Not only that but she asks to see the full manuscript. I’m on a roll. Or so I think. Then the bombshell drops a couple of weeks later.
… that’ll be a ‘no’ then. Bloody Welshies, what do they know about good writing? They spent hours walking around, smoking pipes, dripping angst into their pint of Old Scrote and for what? God, I am starting to sound like my character Micky Biggs now.
Anyway, I can’t give up yet, and at least Penny has given me some good tips. I get in touch with some of the other publishers she mentions, but some don’t even reply and one in particular puts my nose out of joint. The bloke at Gomer is far too busy to glance at my work, while one of the others – from out Swansea way – suggests I might benefit from a creative writing course. Me? How very dare he? Don’t these people know who I am?
I need a more discerning reader for my material, someone completely independent but with an eye for genius writing. I know, the wife! Mrs Rippers is ideal, being a journalist, sub-editor and expert on the grammar front. I hand over in excess of 400 pages of A3 and she dutifully ploughs through it, though I sense the subject matter isn’t really to her taste. When she gets to Chapter Nine I get the first really positive feedback… “This is really good, funny and well written”. I look at it. It’s when my hero meets the ex-rugby player known simply as The Legend, who trawls around the hostelries of Cardiff recounting tales of the 70s in turn for drinks. Brainwave: Why don’t I rewrite the novel, bringing Chapter Nine to the front, and work from there. Brilliant.
Back to the drawing board I recraft my masterpiece so that The Legend’s appearance in the story is at the forefront. Click here to read it…